Low income and unaffordable house prices have caused Gainesville to become one of the least affordable cities in Florida.
On Jan. 17, homearea.com, a website that uses Census data to create housing statistics for cities, updated its “Cities in Florida with the Most Affordable Homes” list, which showed Gainesville ranking 35 out of 53 surveyed cities with a population of more than 60,000.
The list used 2017 Census Bureau data to compare local incomes with local home prices to determine the housing affordability in the area, the website said.
Gainesville received a rating of 4.6, which is higher than the Florida average of 4.1. According to HomeArea, anything under 3 is affordable.
This is considered to be severely unaffordable, according to the housing affordability rating categories outlined by Demographia’s International Housing Affordability survey, which also uses the same rating scale.
Jessica Cowart, a 40-year-old real estate agent at Keller Williams Realty, said the average price of a home in Gainesville is significantly lower than the average for the entire state.
“If you compare Gainesville to its nearest neighbors, those areas tend to be slightly less expensive, but in an overall comparison to the state, we are one of the better places to purchase,” Cowart said.
The median price for a home in Florida is about $178,700 and in Gainesville is about $147,500, according to the Census Bureau American Community survey five-year estimates. The median income in the city is about $34,004.
Cowart said there’s been a sharp spike in buyers moving to the city from South Florida where homes are more expensive.
This influx of wealthy residents to the city could be preventing the local market from readjusting to match the low income of its native residents, which is making it increasingly unaffordable for locals, said Hector Sandoval, a UF assistant economics professor.
Mona Gil de Gibaja, president of United Way of North Central Florida, said that there are many residents living below the poverty line that can’t afford current mortgage rates and rental prices.
About 57 percent of residents are living below the poverty line, according to a United Way annual Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed report, which outlines challenges faced by the working population.
She said that with the current rates of housing students may be able to survive with financial assistance from parents, but for residents it is almost impossible.
“You might be making a relatively decent salary, but it can be difficult to have a balanced budget if the price of housing is too much,” she said. “You’re always going to be in debt or need other assistance like a food bank.”