In Brevard County, where the rental market has become prohibitively expensive for many, two young professionals, Emily and Rachel, find themselves in a unique living arrangement. Both in their mid-twenties and working in entry-level positions, they struggle to cope with the average rent prices, which have soared to over $1,900 for a one-bedroom apartment.
Faced with limited options, Emily and Rachel decide to share a single room – and a bed – in a one-bedroom apartment. They are not just roommates but bedmates, alternating their sleeping schedules to accommodate their work hours. Similar to ‘hot desking‘ which became popular during Covid-19, the trend is known as ‘hot bedding’. Emily, who works in a local coffee shop, has early morning shifts, while Rachel, employed at a call center, often works late into the night.
This arrangement, born out of necessity, is not without its challenges. Privacy is virtually non-existent, and personal boundaries are constantly tested. They have set up a strict schedule and rules for bed use, cleanliness, and personal items. Despite these efforts, the situation is far from ideal, with both often feeling the strain of such close quarters.
Emily and Rachel’s story is not an isolated incident but a reflection of the broader housing affordability crisis in Florida. According to the Florida Housing Coalition, the state has one of the highest rates of cost-burdened renters in the country, with many spending more than 30% of their income on housing. In cities like Tampa, Orlando, and Miami, the situation is even more dire, with rents rising at a pace that far outstrips wage growth.
The University of Florida’s Shimberg Center for Housing Studies reports that the state’s rental market is one of the tightest in the nation, with a vacancy rate of just 5%. This shortage of available and affordable rental units is pushing more residents into unconventional living arrangements like that of Emily and Rachel.
Florida’s housing market has been particularly affected by the housing crisis. According to a report by the Florida Atlantic University, rent prices in major cities like Miami, Orlando, and Tampa have been rising at alarming rates, outpacing the national average. The report highlights that in some areas of Florida, rent prices have increased by over 30% in a single year, making it one of the least affordable states for renters.
The situation in Florida reflects a broader trend across the United States. The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports a significant gap between wages and the cost of rental housing nationwide, with Florida being one of the states where this gap is most pronounced. The average worker in Florida needs to earn nearly three times the minimum wage to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.
In Florida, there has been growing concern that Republican lawmakers are prioritizing legislation on social issues and engaging in culture wars, rather than focusing on pressing economic challenges such as the affordable housing crisis. Critics argue that the legislative agenda has been increasingly dominated by policies centered on hot-button social topics, diverting attention and resources away from critical issues like housing affordability. This shift in focus has led to frustration among those directly affected by the housing market’s volatility, who feel that the urgency of their situation is being overshadowed by more politically charged, but less immediately impactful, legislative debates. The perceived lack of substantial action on the housing front, amidst the fervent pursuit of social and cultural agendas, has raised questions about the balance of priorities in Florida’s political landscape.
The escalating home insurance rates in Florida have significantly contributed to the increased rent prices, exacerbating the state’s affordable housing crisis. Homeowners, grappling with soaring insurance premiums, often pass these costs onto tenants, leading to a steep rise in rental prices. In recent years, Florida has seen some of the highest home insurance rates in the nation, driven by factors such as frequent natural disasters, including hurricanes and floods, and the high cost of reinsurance. These escalating costs not only strain homeowners but also indirectly impact renters, who bear the brunt of these increases in the form of higher rents.
Moreover, the response of the Florida legislature to this crisis has been under scrutiny. Critics argue that there has been a lack of effective action to address the root causes of the housing affordability issue. While there have been attempts to mitigate the impact of rising insurance costs, such as proposed legislation to reform insurance laws and provide relief to homeowners, these measures have often fallen short in offering a comprehensive solution. The focus has predominantly been on immediate relief rather than long-term structural changes that could stabilize the market and make housing more affordable.
The affordable housing crisis in Florida is further compounded by the state’s rapid population growth and the increasing demand for housing. This demand-supply imbalance has led to a spike in housing prices, making it even more challenging for low and middle-income families to find affordable housing. The legislature’s efforts, while acknowledging the problem, have yet to result in significant policy changes that effectively address the multifaceted nature of the crisis. The need for innovative housing policies, increased funding for affordable housing projects, and a more robust regulatory framework for insurance rates is critical in ensuring that the dream of affordable housing becomes a reality for all Floridians.
Canada is also experiencing the financial strain of increased housing costs and exploring similar situations. A Toronto-based realtor highlighted a Facebook Marketplace post that showed someone offering to rent out half of their queen size bed for 900 Canadian dollars ($650) a month.
“Looking for an easy going female to share the master bedroom and the one Queen-sized bed,” the listing read.
“I have been previously sharing the bedroom which only has one queen size with roommate I found on Facebook and it worked out perfectly well!”