By Toby Tobin
The Housing Element Section of Palm Coast’s Comprehensive Plan says, “Citizens of all income levels shall have the opportunity to obtain quality housing at a reasonable cost.”
Further, it Finds: “The cornerstone of a City’s quality of life is its housing stock. Citizens of all income levels desire safe, secure, good quality housing at a reasonable cost.” And “the public sector plays a role in helping to ensure that the housing needs of all citizens are met by attempting to balance the cost of housing with the income levels of available jobs in the community.” The affordability goal remains unfulfilled.
A Palm Coast family with the city’s median household income of $51,208 (US Census Bureau) can afford a monthly housing budget (rent or mortgage, taxes, insurance) of $1,280 (at 30 percent of earnings). Flagler County’s median income is $51,049, carrying with it a maximum monthly housing budget of $1,276. That means that half of the local population cannot afford a $200,000 home. Yet:
- The median selling price for a single-family home (2019 year-to-date) in Flagler County is $241,500, affordable only for those earning more than 38 percent above the county median household income.
- Only 31.3 percent of homes sold countywide were within reach of those with a median household income. In the city, the percentage of affordable homes rises to 36.8 percent.
- Of nearly 900 county homes listed for sale by MLS, only 12.3 percent have a listing price below $200,000. By the same standard, only 16.4 percent of Palm Coast homes are affordable.
Two sides of affordable housing
Most people conflate the two sides of affordable housing. On one side is the very difficult and seemingly intractable issue of housing for those that are, or should be, in the social welfare system; the homeless, the mentally ill, the disabled, the indigent, those simply down on their luck, etc.
This commentary addresses the second side of affordable housing, dealing with the segment of society that is employed or employable. Simply put, the housing stock in Flagler County and Palm Coast is inadequate to suit the needs of the bottom half of the earnings ladder.
To have a meaningful discussion about affordable housing, one must understand its two sides. Whether I call it affordable housing, workforce housing, or entry-level housing, nearly everyone reflexively jumps to the conclusion that I’m talking about the social welfare side of affordable housing. They dig their heels in, citing the dark side of Section 8 housing and using euphemisms like “those kinds of people.”
The Flagler County School District is the county’s largest public sector employer. The starting pay for Flagler County teachers and first responders is roughly the same; under $40,000 per year, well below the median household income. Their maximum monthly housing budget is about $945 (30 percent of earnings). Their house hunting is limited to homes selling for no more than $150,000, or only 4.5 percent of the homes sold year-to-date and only 1.2 percent of all county homes listed for sale. There is only one Palm Coast home currently listed below $150,000.
The rental side is similarly bleak. MLS lists a total of 95 homes, duplexes, apartments and condos available as long-term rentals. Only two are listed for $950 or less. Only 24 meet the budget of the median household income family. The median rent is $1,450.
The lack of available housing options hinders efforts to recruit employee. Our largest private sector employer is our growing hospital. Entry-level healthcare workers face the same housing affordability dilemma as teachers and first responders. Hospitality, service, and retail workers, at the heart of our county’s economy, are even more challenged. Housing stock is one of the criteria evaluated by companies contemplating a move to our location.
An exhibit at the National Building Museum, based on data from Fannie Mae, reveals that nuclear families account for only 20 percent of American households, down from 43 percent in 1950. Singles, living alone, account for nearly 30 percent of today’s households. U.S. housing has not kept up with these trends.
Can we build a $150,000 home in Palm Coast?
Palm Coast has roughly 15,000 undeveloped (but buildable) 10,000 SF lots which can be purchased for a median price of $20,500. This is less than half of what a developer will pay to develop a community of lots from raw land, but I’ll talk about that later.
Assume the minimum-sized single-family residential home allowed in Palm Coast; 1,200 living square feet with a two-car attached garage. In the list of costs below, all but a small percentage of the permit and inspection fees are fixed.
The two most expensive rooms in a house are the kitchen and baths. Adding another bedroom or two, a foyer, a flex room or a den/study costs less per square foot, encouraging builders to build larger homes so they can amortize the lot cost, water & sewer connection fees, and impact fees over a larger space, thus lowering the overall cost/SF. This discourages builders, as a matter of policy, from building smaller, less expensive homes.
Building a Minimum-Sized Home in Palm Coast:
|Land (existing Palm Coast infill lot)||$20,500|
|Park System Impact Fee||$849|
|Fire & Rescue Impact Fee||$223|
|Education Impact Fee||$3,600|
|Transportation Impact Fee (for infill lots)||$1,632|
|Water & Sewer Connection Fees||$10,144|
|Building and Permitting Fees||$865|
|Construction at $120/SF (including landscaping and driveway)||$144,000|
|Total Cost (exclusive of builder/developer profit)||$181,813|
Even if the land is free, we can’t realistically build a new single-family home in Palm Coast for a starting teacher or first responder. And there is a dearth of affordable existing home inventory.
Is new development, either an undeveloped parcel within Palm Coast or elsewhere in the county, a better option for affordable housing? Not really. It costs nearly $600 per lot frontage foot to build a road and infrastructure with buildable lots, assuming a double loaded road (homes on both sides of the road). Double that number if the road is single loaded. That puts the raw lot cost of a 60-foot lot at roughly $35,000. Add to that the cost of the raw land, the cost of engineering, wetland mitigation, surveying, platting, rezoning, entry features, amenities, additional sewage lift stations, etc. Realistically, the final cost of the lot approaches $50,000. Additionally, the city transportation impact fee for non-infill lots is $1,349 higher per house.
There are several impediments to affordable housing. Not the least of them is the institutionalized NIMBYism of Flagler residents. Everyone wants their pizza delivered expeditiously, but they want the pizza delivery person to live in Putnam, Volusia, St Johns County, or at least Mondex. This feeling is visceral. It is powerful. It is also irrational. Who among us has never lived in rental housing, a one-bath home, a home without a garage, or a home smaller than 1,200 SF? Are we saying that we do not want to live near our 25-year old selves?
Palm Coast City Council recently ignored a nearly unanimous (6 to 1) recommendation by the Planning & Land Development Regulation Board (PLDRB) to reduce the minimum requirement for a permitted single-family home to a one-car attached garage from the currently required two-car attached garage. Does a single teacher or nurse need a two-car garage? Such a change would affect only a small percentage of new homes but would reduce that home’s cost by roughly $15,000. There are hundreds of pre-Land Development Code single-car garage homes in Palm Coast. They go unnoticed because they are, well, unnoticeable.
We can allow greater density. There have been no building permits issued in all of Flagler County for multi-family construction in over four years. With a maximum allowable density of only 12 units per acre, Palm Coast has effectively discouraged apartment development. Apartments are so scarce that apartment rents rival single-family and duplex housing rents.
There are new apartments in the permitting cycle with construction planned to begin this year. At least some of the rents are projected to be less than $1,000 monthly. These are made possible by subsidies available through Palm Coast’s Opportunity Zone and Innovation District within Town Center. Yet their arrival is being met with much-anticipated NIMBYism.
On the single-family home side, narrower lots will require fewer linear feet of new roads and reduce stormwater management needs (and costs). Smaller lots will reduce environmental impact and the need for landscape irrigation. Smaller footprint homes will lower construction costs and reduce stormwater runoff.
Modular homes are the product of a more efficient method of construction, built in an environmentally controlled factory rather than on-site. Modular homes meet Florida building codes and are not prohibited as a class in Palm Coast. Yet there are no modular homes here. The reason lies within the Architectural Design Regulations of the Land Development Code (LDC). Requirements dealing with pitched roofs, massing requirements, articulation, fenestration, shutters and awnings tend to be incompatible with modular construction standards.
Manufactured Homes: Revisiting the Palm Coast Comprehensive Plan: Policy 220.127.116.11 – Within one (1) year of Plan adoption, the City shall establish a mobile/manufactured home (bearing the HUD approval insignia) zoning district, which is not subject to the same architectural and aesthetic regulations as applied in the City’s other residential zoning districts. The City’s LDC shall provide that lawfully existing mobile homes may be allowed, subject to conditions, to continue as non-conforming uses.
Regarding manufactured and modular homes, the LDC states as follows:
13.03.05. Manufactured dwellings and mobile homes bearing a Florida Department of Community Affairs Seal. Manufactured dwellings and mobile homes that bear a Florida Department of Community Affairs Seal shall comply with the regulations for single-family residential and duplex architectural design. In addition, they shall meet the following:
A. A continuous perimeter stem wall foundation or monolithic foundation floor slab system that meets all criteria of the Florida Standard Building Code, shall be provided. Exterior walls of these dwellings shall bear directly on the foundation. Isolated elevated pier foundations are prohibited. Interior load-bearing foundations and/or walls shall be continuous.
B. The electrical service entrance shall be located on the dwelling.
C. The exterior face of all stem wall foundations and/or monolithic design shall be architecturally finished with Portland cement stucco, brick, stone, siding materials, or other durable material approved by the Land Use Administrator.
D. The main entranceway shall be covered with a roof structure. The roof structure shall be consistent with the roof structure of the principal dwelling and shall cover, at a minimum, the required exterior landing at the door. The entry roof structure may be an extension of the main roof system or a separate roof system that matches the main roof slope, materials, and architectural style. If separate, the roof structure shall be consistent with the principal dwelling.
To put the meaning of the preceding text in other words; “Not In My Back Yard.” Palm Coast has neither mobile home communities nor modular homes. This is akin to red-lining. It is exclusionary zoning.
Lack of action is far-reaching. The median age of Flagler County residents rose from 47.2 in 2010 to 50.3 in 2017 (US Census Bureau). That’s 5.3 months per year. 30.2percent of Flagler’s population is 65 or older, making it demographically one of the oldest counties in the country. [Thank God for The Villages.] Don’t think that this rather dramatic shift is not the result, at least in part, of our inaction on affordable housing.
Inaction effects not only the quantity but the quality of our available labor force. Those earning below the median household income are more likely to be transportation-impaired; without reliable transportation or without the income to cover long commuting expenses. The best workers, especially in these times of full employment, will find work near home. Less qualified employees will have to seek employment further away. By limiting nearby affordable housing, Flagler County is lowering both the size and the quality of its available labor pool.
Living up to the Comprehensive Plan
The Comprehensive Plan was not created by a third party. It was not thrust upon an unwilling City Council. It was not a preemption document emanating from Tallahassee. It was written locally and adopted by the City Council. It should not be treated as something to hang on the wall to put your benevolence on display. It should find itself not only in the text but also in the spirit and implementation of the Land Development Code.
My comments are admittedly focused on Palm Coast, in part because the clear delineation between their “goal,” as reflected in the Comprehensive Plan, and the reality of their action is most stark. It’s also because Palm Coast represents nearly 80 percent of the county population and therefore, its housing stock. It is the “gorilla in the room,” a moniker of which they are generally proud.
But my commentary is aimed at everyone; both elected officials (in other municipalities and at the county) and residents. It is a connected world. There are lots of moving parts to affordable housing. For instance, the abundance of cars parked in driveways (and swales) on your street is less due to the lack of garage space than to the lack of affordable housing. Homes designed to be single-family residences are now housing multi-generational families. Many residents are renting extra rooms to non-family members to help cover the cost of their own housing.
As the Comprehensive Plan says, “The cornerstone of a City’s quality of life is its housing stock. Citizens of all income levels desire safe, secure, good quality housing at a reasonable cost.” And “the public sector plays a role in helping to ensure that the housing needs of all citizens are met by attempting to balance the cost of housing with the income levels of available jobs in the community.”
Prompt action is required. The health of our local economy and our quality of life depend on it.
Toby Tobin, a Realtor, is the editor of GoToby.com, where this piece originally appeared.
Love this article !!
We should pay teachers more! It’s disgraceful how little they are paid. No wonder teachers around the country are striking.
I propose that every town within Flagler County set aside a minimum of 60 acres for the sole purpose of manufactured homesites. In fact the County can get the funding by offering municipal bonds. If each homesite was between 1/4 acre to 1/2 acre there would be enough room for each town to have 200 to 400 affordable manufactured homes. And, with funding by the sales of bonds, as well as federal grant money, each town within the County would benefit from increased tax base!
And the only thing that I have to say about adding section 8 housing is this…come up with a set of rules for the people who live there, and evict EVERYONE who breaks those rules. It’s that simple.
A dose of reality. GL cause the problem wont go away and or get any easier. Nice job with the article.
TERRY JOHN MELTON says
AFFORDABLE HOUSING? IS THIS A RETIREMENT COMMUNITY? IF NOT, THEN WHERE ARE ALL THE JOBS FOR PERSPECTIVE HOME BUYERS? POLITICS, POLICY, ETHICS, & MORAL OBLIGATIONS ARE NOT THE ISSUE. ITS JOBS. SOMETHING WE EXPORTED TO CANADA, MEXICO, CHINA.
PC Citizen says
While the article contains many good points the statement:
“The best workers, especially in these times of full employment, will find work near home.”
is both an insult to many of us and incorrect on its face. I have degrees in Engineering and Physics along with decades of experience in Technology and still need to commute to Jacksonville to work.
If anyone knows of a job for someone like me within 30 minutes drive from Palm Coast please let me know.
Yes there is a need for affordable housing in the area but the need for good jobs is even more urgent.
Mary Fusco says
Unfortunately, the reality of life is that you can’t always live where you work and you can’t work where you live. When my husband and I bought our first home in the 70’s we bought in an area that we could afford. The downside was that he had to commute 70 miles each way for 25 years in order to make a living and support our family. When I first started working back in the stone age, I worked in Manhattan. I certainly could not afford to live there, so I commuted daily using a bus and 2 subways. Thankfully I come from a generation that is aware that you can’t have everything. LOL.
There is no reason whatsoever for not using the land located on the west side of US 1 which is within the city of Palm Coast to properly zone and build a manufactured home and mobile home community for people who can’t afford new or existing housing currently available in Palm Coast. Unless of course it happens to be swamp land.
Vincent A. Liguori says
Modular homes should without doubt comply with the regulations relegated to single family residential and duplex architectural design. Absence of the comprehensive plan provisions would lead to severe financial losses for homeowners.
Mr Tobin: You said that the reason there are a lot of cars parked in swales and full driveways is because people are renting rooms out to meet expenses, therefore more cars on the property. You didn’t include the fact that the younger families have teenagers or very young adults in the house, and they have cars that need to be parked somewhere.
Perhaps if the city reduced some of the impact fees, especially the water hookup. $10,000 to install a water hookup? Really! Of course, on the other hand, the builders would take advantage of that and not reduce the price of the house, or actually increase the price a tad.
You give the impression that you are glad the senior population is decreasing. A lot of seniors have nice homes and pay a good amount of property taxes on them, and use the amenities Palm Coast has a lot more than the working group because seniors have more time. Yes, there are some that don’t have it so lucky, but they manage to keep their less expensive home nice looking and neat.
If a city builds a lot of small houses (1200 sq ft) with one car garages, it will collect a lot less in property taxes and the resale value wouldn’t be very good, as no one, except a single person or seniors would probable not have to much interest in them. Those couples planning a family would find it too small I would think. Kids use up more space than adults. Perhaps a builder buying some land and build a few small “communities” of workforce or affordable housing 1200-1400 sq ft with 2 car garages might work ? Just a suggestion
I know it is very difficult for the average person to find something that is within their budget without making themselves house poor because of the high payments. If lot prices were reduced a bit, builders prices reduced a bit and the $10,000 water/sewer connection reduced, it might shave enough off to make the house more affordable. Also the financial institutions rip off the buyer with their exhorbitant closing costs!!! It barely costs anything for the lenders to get onto their computer and check things out to make sure everything is in order. I understand that closing costs are 3 to 4 percent of the price of the house. That would make a 150,000 home have a closing cost between $4500 and $6000! of which most new buyers add the to price of the home and now will pay interest on closing costs as well.
Impact fees total $17,313, NOT INCLUDING price of the lot, according to Mr Tobin’s figures. Add that amount to 4500-6000 closing costs and you have a whopping 21,813.00 to 23,813.00 to the price of a home selling for $150.000 making it more like 173,000 after those exhorbitant closing costs and some of the impact fees. Even if a buyer is buying a pre owned house, they still have closing costs, but don’t have to pay impact fees. I have seen some existing homes for sale which are way overpriced for what they are, and that doesn’t help either, although most of them appear to sell in a decent time period.
It certainly is an illusion, and not by accident. Palm Coast is a retirement community by design, and it is not for the poorer retirees either. Everything here is predominantly to support that retirement community. Now they may be cutting their noses off to spite their faces when it comes to attracting the necessary business and talent to support itself, but its not really going to change until the covenants mentioned in this article change. Devastating fires nor a housing financial collapse was able to effect it long-term.
Maybe call it what it is (not unlike what The Villages has done), and capitalize on that. A coastal retirement community, and stop with the charade of tourism or a great place for big business.
The economy here is more closely aligned to that of the northeast. Not surprisingly, because much of the population is from the northeast (retired or semi-retired). Compared to the rest of Florida, gas is more expensive, groceries are more expensive, office space is more expensive, pretty much everything is above the state averages in costs.
US1 north and south of Palm Coast are currently sitting rural wastelands. Lax some of the rules in those parts so that the developers can build the much needed affordable housing there, and incorporate a public transportation system to get the folks that ACTUALLY make things work into town to support the community.
Funny, this is the only town I’ve seen that has what look like bus stops (pretty park benches on the sides of major thoroughfares), yet no buses.
Doesn’t matter, since the councils comprise mostly old white fogies stuck to the status quo.
Palm Coast Resident says
Wow, FlaglerLive, do you feel like you’re breaking open all the sources of ailments in the world? I feel like we’re starting to get good conversations going, and I’m catching a wiff of some sort of fragrance. Is it a blossom? Action?
You’ve been covering the county and it’s disorganized manner of approach toward engaging citizen participation. You’ve covered the Flagler County Jail and the reality of inmate care. You’ve covered homelessness–the problem for them and the strain it causes for the residents and the staff of the library, now housing. It’s overwhelming isn’t it?
Let’s not forget these stories that become the latest flavor of the week. Let’s not forget Anthony Fennick or what’s being done to address inmate care, and in a week, let’s not forget what the library director is probably still going to have to contend with.
These issues are all interrelated. Housing availability affects homelessness–maybe not directly, but it affects the possibility of working individually with someone who has the potential to reenter society productively. Housing availability affects a productive citizen’s risk of devolving toward a path of depression and substance abuse.
Inmates incarcerated for substance-abuse related crimes are either facing homelessness or narrowly avoiding it. How we care for them in their fight for self-actualization matters to our community. Adequate housing options for citizens seeking upward opportunities matter for all of us.
I’d like to submit another topic of the week for Flagler County: Accessing mental health services. How can the average citizen access, say, therapy, psychiatry, counseling? Is a challenge for everyone or just for Medicaid recipients? Because we can’t forget Shauntiana Stafford, whose beautiful face graced the front page of Flagler Live on the second week of January 2019, reminding us that we need to pay attention to how we serve those experiencing mental health issues.
specifically, why does it cost
$10,144 to connect to the water/sewer?
Concerned Citizen says
Mr. Tobin is apparently against Affordable Housing and has the not in my back yard attitude. That’s to be expected from a Realtor who only wants to sell higher class homes to retirees.
And there in lies the problem with Palm Coast. Palm Coast was designed by ITT as a retieree community. It was meant to be a residence for Northerners who were tired of the snow and cold and wanted to “get away from it all” Alas times changed and those dasterdly younger folks started moving in.
Keep in mind those younger folks include types like Teachers, Nurses, Figherfighters and Law Enforcement. Not all are minimum wage retail or burger flippers. Flagler County/Palm Coast would eventually become one of the fastest growing counties in the region. Now keep in mind growth isn’t a bad thing unless there is no housing or jobs.
We need to move away from the mind set that affordable housing is all section 8. And will bring nothing but ruffians and derelicts. I imagine all of us at one time were first time home buyers in need of a break to get started. And there are plenty of programs out there to help.
In regards to comments about mobile/modular homes. I just bought one and own it on land. It has been well kept and maintained. Does that make me any less of a home owner than having a 225K home in Palm Coast Plantation? Or a 180K condo sandwiched in Tidelands? To me it was an affordable way of owning my first home after renting for 10 years. Gotta start somewhere.
John R Brady says
I had a letter to the editor published in The Observer and my idea was for the County to step up and provide housing for seniors that by circumstances can no longer afford to stay in their home. By no means is this a solution but it is a step towards a solution. Here is the letter
In every local political race the issue of affordable housing comes up and candidates struggle to find a middle road answer. The struggle is to find a middle of the road approach that would be at least acceptable to both extremes. The one extreme thinks affordable housing means Section 8 and bringing in “those kind of people”. The other extreme pushes for affordable housing because of the low paying jobs here and the need for young people to be able to find housing, get married, and raise a family.
There is a currently a silent and increasing population that will be in need of affordable housing. That population is composed of seniors, whose retirement dream has turned into a nightmare. It maybe that a spouse died and that source of income has ended. It maybe that a couple moved here on a fixed income and a rainy day fund and that rainy day fund has dried up due to some significant major household expenses. A perfectly good roof that the insurance company requires to be replaced is an example. Also included in this group are folks who have an income based on investments that have slowed and the expected income has diminished or disappeared.
Another sad option to make up for lost income is to seek employment. It is sad that a person at this stage of life must seek employment. In additional to age imposed physical limitations there is the embarrassment of competing against children as young as their grandchildren for an entry level job.
Many of these people can look to see if they can sell their home and use whatever equity to move to another home or apartment but here is the rub. When they look at available replacement housing, they find that the monthly cost will be far greater than their existing monthly cost. They can move and use the equity to cover the increased shelter cost but they know this is a temporary solution as the equity will be eaten up at some point.
Since that solution is temporary, many turn reluctantly to relatives and in most cases this means their children. What could possibly go wrong with this solution, let us count the ways. Remember when these adult children came to visit you for a week with their children. Remember how happy you were to see them and how more delighted you were when they left.
Sadly a third solution is to look into public senior citizen housing in the locale where their lived prior to coming to Florida. In most public housing your rent is calculated at 25% of your gross income.
I am suggesting a more humane solution and that involves either the City of Palm Coast or Flagler County building and maintaining senior citizen housing. The timing could not be worse in both the City and the County but this population is growing and from the ones I know, they would choose to live here.
This population is your friends and neighbors and may one day be you. Time to start the discussion.
Percy's mother says
Suppose we have some transparency from you, Toby. AND, by that I mean what business entities are you directly or quietly legally involved with from which you might benefit financially by continually pushing “affordable housing” (aka LOW INCOME HOUSING) down our throats?
Also, in the past (in comments on your radio show and in postings) you have alluded to the fact that perhaps the citizenry is so stupid that we need to be enlightened on “affordable housing” . . . that we don’t “understand” what it is and how it works.
So, what’s really behind the continual commentary from you about Palm Coast needing LOW INCOME HOUSING?
Are you quietly legally attached to any real estate development entity from which you would benefit financially by pushing LOW INCOME HOUSING continually down our throats?
Time to move on from it Toby. We’re not all as stupid as you and Ms. Holland seem to think. We don’t need to be “enlightened”.
How about putting an “affordable housing” development right across from Grand Haven? OR, Hammock Beach? How about that? Any Section 8 in Grand Haven or Hammock Dunes?
If you are looking for cheap housing and sevtion 8 , simply move to daytona, jacksonville areas. Palm coast has decent housing for working or retired people, not the low life crack dealing illegals! It one of the few nice places left in Florida that you can say that!
oddly enough,by moving out of palm coast we raised our median household income from around 55k to 120k….that city is an ecomonic disaster that will never be fixed.
Flagler fan says
A few key points:
1-how would they qualify? what proof of ALL income will be required?
( I have seen instances where all that is required is ONE paycheck! )
2-how will the new buyers be taught about budgeting, expenses, etc?
( Some recipients in Habitat have had liens, etc imposed. You cannot
just give them the “keys to the car without showing them how to drive and maintain)
3-as their income increases (hopefully) above the low income status, how do you ensure that they move up and on and provide this entry level housing for another candidate?
( There have been instances in some locations whereas the candidate qualifies, starts succeeding in their jobs, and stay. I have seen many, through the low costs associated with living in these homes, be able to actually buy SECOND homes somewhere else!)
Perhaps there should be more rental communities in which tenants would have to continue to income qualify annually.
ALL assets should be considered…not just one paycheck.
The spirit of the effort is an admirable one….let’s just think about the execution of it!
Eventually they will have to address the impact of vacation rentals on the availability and prices for long-term rentals.
Franklin Clair says
It’s a shame that the people we depend upon to teach our children and protect us cannot afford to purchase a house or rent an apartment in Flagler County , and especially in Palm Coast our largest municipality.
John DeWitt says
Wow! Imagine a town like Palm Coast with such shitty housing and neighborhoods, like in all the lettered sections, and yet this crappy housing is still unaffordable to half the people. And the people who do live there are so low class they wouldn’t be welcome in like half the cities in America. Something is truly wrong with that picture and it starts with high property taxes and impact fees. Get those two things under control and you come a long way towards solving your affordability problem.
Robert Gordon says
This is obviously a well thought out and researched piece, but it missed at least one significant concern specifically about the low income apartment project in Town Center. If the intent, as expounded by the Mayor and the City Council is to ultimately make the Town Center the crown jewel centerpiece of Palm Coast, it’s doubtful that a government subsidized low income apartment complex will be an effective catalyst for further meaningful development there. It’s very possible that the “not in my back yard” syndrome, usually driven in this case by the right or wrong perception that low income housing breeds crime, may result in the opposite effect for both prospective businesses, their patrons and further residences in Town Center. It’s a big gamble economically and politically and seemingly not the smartest way to kick start this hopeful endeaver. Real or imagined, perception is key.
Johnny Kent says
There is also a third side to affordable. As Palm Coast home owner would I be able to afford my real estate taxes that are set to rise sky high because those affordable housing companies are EXEMPT!?
Take for example MID Florida Housing company that owns 16 affordable single family homes in Palm Coast and pays NO TAXES at all. They get AFF HOUSING – 100% EXEMPTION. Yet every family I saw living in one of their homes has 2-3 kids. Do they go to private school with parents paying for it? NO! They use public school system with transportation provided. So who pays for it? You and me, dear home owners of Palm Coast! Who pays for services city and county provide? You and me again, dear home owners of Palm Coast and Flagler County!
Shall we be able to afford our homes if we set to pay taxes for all those affordable houses they are about to build here? I doubt it.
Then again question of affordability is an interesting one. I want to live in West Palm Beach but can’t afford it. Maybe owners of those multimillion dollar homes are going to build me something affordable in a midst of their paradise and pay taxes so I can use their excellent school system too?
Have to send Toby there to make it happen! LOL
Field of dreams says
This is quite the thesis statement for what has to be addressed if the area is to become more than a large neighborhood. Palm coast is a great place to retire or raise a family or commute to work, but if you truly want to live here you’ll have a hard time finding a job that will pay well enough to make it affordable to do so. As a local employer I can tell you there simply isn’t any skilled labor to hire so there can be no growth besides more residential housing. I would like to see town center intelligently laid out with many shops on the ground floor and apartments above in a truly walkable community. I don’t think any of our local leaders have the will to envision anything beyond more of the same.
Denise Calderwood says
Toby Thank You Thank You Thank You for writing such a great article and Thank You FlaglerLive for posting it. It is important for everyone to understand this issue. We need people to work. They are willing to work but they can’t afford to live here and then on a $9.00 an hour job they can’t afford to commute in to work here either so something has to give…and then let’s talk about marriage divorce sickness, major purchase car breaking down etc.
And not to.mention death of a spouse when one does purchase a house when they retire here what then…..homelessness can occur because average rent and or our affordable rate rent is still posted at $1,200 ..which they can’t afford and we don’t have enough subsidized senior housing units here in Palm Coast and those apartments that are have a long waiting list. So any developer out there willing to partner please.contact me since I have the opportunity for a grant to build six new units……but the impact fees made our financials not viable for underwriting…..I can be reached at 386-225-3053
Fight till you make it, then shame anyone who hasn’t made it as far as you. That seems to be the way in Flagler County. No one wants affordable homes built near them , and then they complain when the homeless have no where to live.
Wayne guess says
Very well spoken, and spoken like someone who lives in a very exclusive neighborhood! What about YOUR BACKYARD Mr. Tobin?
There are not enough entry level jobs to support “affordable” housing in the area. Why would we bring people to flagler on the basis of affordable housing if the only jobs here are at a gas station, resturaunt, or grocery store? If we do this NOW we will be bringing families that will become totally dependent on welfare here who might get desperate and start stealing to survive.
You can go to any decent city in the US and find the same characterization of the housing in their example of their Comprehensive Plan. I still don’t get the article, homes are for sale, people are buying homes and people are moving here and either building or buying a home. Nobody asked people to move here, they just do hence the growth of this area. Now if the author wants Palm Coast to have dirt cheap super low income housing for people that HAVE NO money and need a place to live,my question is why did these peole come to Palm Coast in the first place. And this statement “”” abundance of cars parked in driveways (and swales) on your street is less due to the lack of garage space than to the lack of affordable housing. Homes designed to be single-family residences are now housing multi-generational families. Many residents are renting extra rooms to non-family members to help cover the cost of their own housing.:, “”” are these people even legally supposed to be in this country. Also kids grow up, get cars and if you have a family of 5 the 3 kids grow up go to school have cars and still reside at home. Again people chose to live here, they knew the job situation in this county, why should the city subsidize these people through what NEW taxes for homes, medical care, transportation and even food. The FED GOVT already does that is you qualify. And people get old its a fact of life in every town in the USand every county on this planet.
A Concerned Observer says
“Affordable Housing” is a great “Feel Good” idea in theory, but basic economics dictate that initial property, buildings and common grounds must be first obtained or created and must maintained in perpetuity. Property taxes, insurance costs and utilities must also be inserted into the equation. So, with that in mind, how “affordable” can housing be priced to meet the desires and expectations of those residents of limited means? Any slack must be made up by someone, and that someone will be local taxpayers. I encourage all those of sufficient means and a willingness to support those unable or unwilling to pay their own way to pony-up and pay for it and find a suitable location meeting the desires of the residents and those already living in close proximity to the chosen site.
When I moved here I checked out the cost of living, I knew what I was getting into.that’s why I didn’t move to Beverly Hills,just sayin
If Palm Coast taxpayers subsidize low cost housing for low income workers. they are really subsidizing businesses that pay inadequate wages as well as workers who will not relocate for better pay. The majority of jobs in Flagler County low paying service jobs.
No one that grew up in Palm Coast should be forced to move away from the city they love because there is no work and no jobs. That is the sign of a failing city. A City that provides no work for its residence is asking for high levels of crime. There will also be a surge in homelessness due to lack of resources. People have family and roots here, they will not just move away from what they love they will just find other ways around the problem, like finding illegal ways to make money and living in cars or on county property.
Excellent – thank you.
@The usual suspects
Start here – Flagler County, Florida https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flagler_County,_Florida
The City of Palm Coast, and much of the retired in floriduh, dropped in here (Flagler, Lake, Volusia, etc) for a high standard of retirement living that is still far below the cost of living where you came from. You’ve been followed by a continuous flow of people with even more money – and the same idea. Now, you’re living in same place, but you’re older and poorer than those who’ve come after. Maybe you can learn a new language and immigrate again
Vaya con Dios
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
Why not just erect a billboard on I-95 that says “Welfare Deadbeats and Spongers, Please Exit Here.” Like so many others have said, this county has remained unspoiled, unlike much of South Florida, which is rife with trashy-looking mobile home parks. Do we have to gobble up every piece of natural land and destroy the trees for the sake of shoebox housing that will blow away with the first good wind? I would rather see construction of nicer houses that teachers and first responders can afford by means of 0% mortgages backed by the city or county. That’s what many cities in the Northeast have done to keep good teachers from fleeing to suburbs or other parts of the state. If they’re paying a 0% mortgage rate, our teachers would be able to afford a nicer house and we would attract quality educators. Since first moving here, I have thought that one of our great shortcomings was not having a person working exclusively on bringing quality employers to our county. We have so much to offer, especially now that half of New York is moving to Florida to escape state taxes. We could plan this county beautifully so there’s plenty of room for parks, residential areas, schools and a REAL city center with first-class shopping. Taking the attitude that we have to keep lowering our standards and moving down the food chain with housing is not the right way to go. Can’t afford Flagler? There are plenty of other counties where you’ll find your own level of affordability. But this county should not be sacrificed. It’s one of the last great, unspoiled regions in Florida.
Oh, by the way, all you self righteous fools that want to MAGA, while at the same time in the same breath want “affordable housing”, or “higher wages”, or better “health coverage”. Roughly 70% of Flagler County helped put in power one of the most ignorant individuals to ever walk the streets of the United States, and that power trickles down to the other federal agencies (HUD!), state and local levels (Scott and Desantis). So now you’re all left with a pile of trickle down piss on your foreheads while they try to tell you it’s sweet luscious kool-aid!
The new 2019 federal budget just published… 5% increase in military spending, along with a nearly 2 BILLION DOLLAR decrease in Medicare/Medicaid over the next decade. Drop that on top of a 2 TRILLION DOLLAR deficit for our kids to figure out a way to pay back.
Yeah, MAGA! While your dumb ass ends up in the woods behind the public library in Podunk Town USA.
John DeWitt says
After reading the comments here, I have to agree with those who say if you can’t afford to live here, don’t move here. I can’t afford NYC although if I could I would live there. Society owes nothing to anyone and it is really not the government’s role to interfere with the marketplace. I am particularly appalled by any government program that would let someone buy a house and be tax exempt thus forcing the burden on everyone else.
How many years did palm coast advertise in states like Ohio ,begging for low income families to find a home in an affordable Palm Coast family Parsdise. LOL
Mary Fusco says
@stretchum.. Hey, back in the day Old White foggies did without. They did not go out to eat regularly, if ever. They did not get manis and pedis weekly, they did not have very expensive cell phones, etc. etc. etc. I am what you would consider an old white foggie. We did not have a vacation EVER. We concentrated on the job at hand which was raising our 4 children. They had no real luxuries. But, on the up side, they grew up in a home with 2 parents. They are all college educated and living life with their families. Life is about sacrifice. Those that refuse to sacrifice and want everything handed to them will always be whining and crying. There will always be a pity party somewhere for these fools.
Outside Looking Out says
I just recently moved away from Palm Coast. It is the worst place I have ever lived. It is no place to raise a family. There are no jobs. The only available jobs are servants to the assholes that came here from the upper east coast. They expect people here to cater to them and they consider we folks who have lived here all our lives to be ignorant and below them. They left their homes in order to find cheap living conditions while expecting to be serviced by people who have lived below their lifestyles. They made their livings in an area where the pay scales were much higher than here in the south and they consider us dumb and subservient.
They treat people here rudely and with disrespect.
Unfortunately, the local government officials are, for the most part, other east coast assholes who try to get things there way. Palm Coast & Flagler County are terrible places to raise a family!
Tim B says
Tulip hit it right on the head…you want affordable housing in palm coast, get rid of the useless impact fees!!!!
Why did they build schools? and offer pre-k? for retired peoples’ toddlers? No. give young people a place to live. Who will be your cashier at the gas station, or your server at Cracker Barrel, if everyone here is 60+? You want people to drive from Daytona to work in a retirement community? No, it’s just a town. that everyone needs to be able to afford to live in.
How ignorant can you be…
David S. says
Stretchen you have said it best…..
Zoning in the current neighborhoods should remain the same. Impact fees are necessary to provide infrastructure expansion to keep up with new growth and to minimize the cost of that expansion being put on current home owners. Town Center was designed just is its name implies. Shops, offices, other commercial, apartments ( multiple dwellings). Walkways, etc. The ability to walk to shop or eat out.
The single, adult generation does not need three bedroom houses with two car garages. Palm Coast is still a great place to live.
Growing up in California, My mother wanted to Live in Malibu, But it was too expensive, so we lived in Compton………..She still worked in Malibu.
Agkistrodon, I’m just curious, was your mother born and raised in Malibu? That’s the only way your statement makes sense to me. Or did your get advertised to , saying there is affordable housing in Malibu? Because that’s the whole point.
Well, I guess you all that can afford to live here don’t want to go out to eat, or have cashiers in your grocery stores or labor to build your big homes, huh? Who, exactly, do you think is going to do these jobs? Do you really think a new teacher, firefighter or policeman is going to commute in from Elton or Palatka? Smarten up and look at the big picture. Stupidest statement here “ you can’t always afford to live where you work, blah, blah” and using NY as an example?! Get real. We’re a long way from Manhattan, sweetheart. I don’t think an apartment in Palm Coast is asking for much of anything, much less “everything”
Remembering ICDC, a division of ITT says
About affordable housing….what you’re not saying is jobs don’t pay enough around here for people to buy regular housing. Who wouldn’t want a job tearing movie tickets in half for $25/ hour ? Anyway, when Palm Coast was being developed, it was a 100% PLANNED COMMUNITY. Everything was planned for you and the questions you have about your clothesline or parking your dump truck in the yard have already been answered. Sure there were the canal homes in “sailboat country”, but there were also vast regions south of Route 100 and to the north – even Belle Terre Pkwy that were woods. I knew a secretary for ITT who got in on that company’s deal that she could buy a NEW smaller home built by ICDC for $85K provided you lived on certain streets (to keep the water flowing in the pipes). Huge numbers of people bought lots for $7000 but had to build within 7 (?) years of they took the lot away from you. So Palm coast slowly grew as the sales teams set up shops in Norfolk luring the NAVY and others hit the Rust Belt heavily telling people how miserable they were in Detroit, Flint, Akron, and to spend that union pension in Florida. The New Jersey, NY, and Long Island region was another big retiree market who would use that new bowling alley. but Palm Coast wasn’t just for the golf courses and “the good life”. Huge parcels were for commercial and industrial use. That the retiree part of the planned community worked out pretty good shows us that the ICDC- ITT planned community would continue to thrive BUT the pulled out and sold acreage to developers. Where ITT was luring companies, the next generation not so much. In time, the chain saws cut so much the beauty of tree lined roads mostly disappeared. Jobs haven’t kept up. Town Center isn’t the Pavillion in Port Orange. We can only hope it will be. So the covenants and 100% planned community defined neighborhoods from the get-go of Palm Coast from comfortable but smaller to the top of the line. Affordable housing it out there just not the jobs to pay for it. Mobile homes and manufactured housing was never allowed in the ITT days. Can the original covenants be ignored ? I don’t think so.
We dont need strip malls and gas stations every 1/2 mile my god! Leave some trees and palms!
If you thought palm coast Florida was unaffordable then , well now in 2023 with this fake bubble prices is not that smart to buy and lock up on a 30 year mortgage , forget about renting , rent are stupid fake high prices , around here you would not make enough on any job to pay rent , best thing to do invest out of the country , in south America or Mexico , buy the same style house better build all concrete blocks even the roof , tile roof , inground pool , for only $145 k cash , never pay rent or Mortgage in your life , got to think outside the bubble , the world is big my friends