Housing and Health: Pinellas County Housing Assessment Reveals Inequities, A Community Call to Action

Sep 27, 2018News

Today, the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg released a new, in-depth report that explores how income, race, and an insufficient supply of housing at a variety of affordability levels are barriers to achieving a safe and healthy home for thousands of Pinellas County residents.

Among the findings documented in the report, Home: A Pathway to Health Equity through Housing, market rates for all types of housing — apartments, single-family homes and condos — have increased by 22 percent over the past six years. As a consequence, more than 19 percent of county residents report “severe housing problems,” with black or African-American residents disproportionately experiencing homelessness.

Today, an audience of nearly 200 community members, local housing advocates, nonprofit leaders, elected officials, home builders, and developers gathered to hear from a panel of national housing experts on the critical state of affordable housing in America and what solutions and strategies are working in other communities. Many participants pledged their support for a countywide, cross-sector approach to creating long-term, systemic improvements.

The event also marked the public launch of a series of convenings organized by the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg to explore countywide solutions to housing that will positively impact health and equity. The focus on housing is a response to the high priority consistently placed on the topic in Foundation grant applications, surveys and community listening sessions during its first three years of operations in Pinellas County.

“The Foundation is making a major commitment to housing because if we improve equity in housing, the health of the community will improve,” said Randall H. Russell, President and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg. “This effort will require all sectors of the county working together over the long term to fundamentally change our broken system of housing. We stand ready to help support this process for as long as it takes.”

The report, Home: A Pathway to Health Equity through Housing, is a joint project developed by the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg and Collaborative Solutions, Inc., an Alabama-based national research and training firm that supports the need for stable housing. The report analyzed the county’s housing sustainability along the metrics of affordability, availability, accessibility and adequacy. It documents the many physical and mental health benefits for people who have stable housing. And, it presents a detailed list of recommendations for public and private sectors to engage in next steps in improving and increasing affordable housing in Pinellas County.

Applying Pinellas County housing data within a national context at Thursday’s event were panelists Fred Karnas, Senior Fellow at the Kresge Foundation, Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition and Peggy Bailey, Director of the Health Integration Project at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“This report challenges all of us to acknowledge the impact that healthy, affordable housing can have in changing inequities that have existed for generations and prevent households with low incomes, and households of color, access to safe, decent and affordable homes,” said Karnas, Kresge Foundation’s housing expert. “I hope this report serves as an inspiration and motivation to Pinellas County residents and beyond, challenging us to create strategies to address housing and health inequities,” he added.

Highlights from the report’s focus on the 4 “A’s” of Housing Sustainability:


  • There is only 1 public housing unit for every 100 people living in poverty in Pinellas County.
  • Pinellas County has a shortage of approximately 19,820 housing units for extremely low-income residents and 34,000 for very low-income households.

  • Workers in Pinellas County must earn more than $25 per hour (nearly 3.5 times the federal minimum wage) to afford the median estimated mortgage payment.
  • For a worker making minimum wage, it would require 148 hours of work per week to afford the median estimated market rate rent in Pinellas County.

  • Among the top 10 neighborhoods in South Pinellas County with the best walkability and access to transit, only two contain assisted housing developments — downtown St. Petersburg and Jordan Park.

  • Pinellas County has the oldest housing stock in Florida.
  • Low-income families are more likely to live in homes that have lead-based paint hazards than higher-income families.

The Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg will host an in-depth data walkthrough of the housing report on Dec. 14. This event will also have the goal of setting priorities and creating an action plan for a multi-sector, countywide housing convening to begin in early 2019. Registration is open to all interested parties, but limited to 80 participants.

The Home: A Pathway to Health Equity through Housing report is the latest community briefing commissioned and released by the Foundation under the banner of Research and Data for Healthy Equity. This is a wide-ranging effort to bring evidence-based approaches to advance equitable health outcomes in Pinellas County. The Foundation supports research conducted by nonprofit and governmental partners with expertise in key areas impacting health, including social determinants of health such as education, housing, economic justice, and food and nutrition.

Download the full report at healthystpete.foundation/research.

About the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg

The Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg is a private foundation formed in 2013 following the sale of the nonprofit Bayfront Health St. Petersburg. It is the steward of almost $180 million in assets to support health equity in Pinellas County. The Foundation inspires and empowers people, ideas, information exchange, organizations and relationships to end differences in health due to social or structural disadvantages and improve population health.

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It is through our collective actions and ideas that we will achieve racial and health equity in Pinellas County. Keep pushing the movement forward. Connect with the Foundation and subscribe to our emails to stay updated on opportunities, developments, and events around equity.

Thank you for your interest!