Affordable housing is a challenge on many minds as the cost of living in Indian River County continues to rise. United Way recently brought together community leaders from the civic and nonprofit sectors to discuss ways to address this growing problem and determine actionable items.
Over 50 people attended the Housing Forum at Indian River State College’s Richardson Center. Ashon Nesbitt of the Florida Housing Coalition and Indian River County Commissioner, Susan Adams set the foundation for the discussion by providing background information, updating on current programs, and sharing promising practices.
Nesbitt pointed out that the Florida Housing’s Home Matters 2022 Report indicates that not only is Florida becoming more expensive, but it is also becoming more expensive compared to the rest of the country. Notably, the Sebastian-Vero Beach MSA fell a staggering 76 places, moving from being a relatively affordable place to among the least affordable communities in the country.
“We are keenly aware that it’s an issue on everyone’s mind and that it was going to take our entire community coming together to create actionable items that will positively impact the housing crisis,” said Meredith Egan, Chief Executive Officer of United Way. “Families are spending more and more of their income on housing, forgoing personal and economic stability that safe, decent, and affordable housing provides. It remains clear that safe and affordable housing matters, and not having access to it takes a toll on the health and wellness of families, the workforce, and the community as a whole.”
Following the presentation, attendees worked in small groups to determine the needs and brainstorm possible solutions, prioritizing them by feasibility and impact. The results will help determine a strategic plan for key players to continue the work and move the needle on affordable housing. United Way will be releasing the outcomes in the coming months.
“We (the Florida Housing Coalition) applaud United Way for its leadership on this issue, and the great work being done by Indian River County and local nonprofits. The issue of affordable housing is imperative to the continued growth and development of Indian River County,” said Ashon Nesbitt. “Local government cannot address this issue alone. As this touches every part of the community, the entire community needs to come together, bringing ideas and resources to bear to reduce the housing cost burden and increase access to housing that is affordable for everyone that calls Indian River County home.”