Property insurance and housing costs still plague SWFL residents
NEWS AT A GLANCE
Florida’s legislative session ended without major legislation to help Floridians who are still struggling to find real relief from rising insurance rates and a lack of affordable housing.
With palm trees, green grass, and the glow of the Florida sun, sunny homes are beautiful, but they cost an incredible amount of money to insure.
“Property insurance is skyrocketing,” said John Heichelbech, a homeowner in southwest Florida.
“Property insurance is so high,” said Betty, a homeowner from Southwest Florida.
How high ? “So property insurance when two years ago my premium for a condo was around $1,100. I just got my renewal. And then it’s $1,900,” said Jeff Ford, a homeowner in southwest Florida.
That’s a peak of $800 in 18 months. Ford said he doesn’t know now if he should even keep his insurance. “Insuring $80,000 worth of content for $1,800, is that good value or not? Ford said.
A few streets down, a woman named Betty said for her that property insurance is just too valuable to give up. So to keep it, she started staying home to pay for her home insurance. “I don’t go out as much, I stay at home. It shows the social life. You know, there are other things to do. He can ride a bike and stuff like that. But still, it’s always nice to go out to eat,” Betty said.
Heichelbeck said his insurance in southwest Florida is twice what he pays for his spot in Indiana. He can swing it, but not all of his neighbors. “They have to tap more into the pensions you know, down the road and that probably means less that our kids will have kids when the day comes,” Heichelbeck said.
Ford said he hopes the day has already come when he sees help from the Florida legislature. “I think something has to be done about it,” Ford said.
The legislator talked about offering insurance companies help by reducing the number of people who depend on citizens’ insurance, but nothing happened.
Senate President Wilton Simpson previously said that if the legislature did nothing, it would have failed. He hinted at a special session dealing with the matter later.
What happens in Tallahassee, in the chambers of the state legislature, is politics, but what happens there, or doesn’t happen there, affects real people.
“We have a seven-year-old girl, she is almost seven. And we have another one on the way,” Daniell Akel said.
Akel said last year she had started looking for a bigger place for her growing family. If they had moved then, it would have cost her about $500 more per month, which she could have afforded. Now, “It’s about $1,500, maybe $2,000 more, almost double our rent. It’s just that if we were talking about buying and paying for a house that we were going to own, that would be one thing, but paying rent for nothing and paying for nothing? Akel said.
She’s grateful to have something she loves, even if space is tight.
WINK News interviews people who can’t every week. “My children can go to school in this region. My daughter is in daycare but now we can’t afford to live in this area.
Lawmakers allocated more money in the budget for affordable housing this year than in previous years, but there’s no rhyme or reason as to how that money will be spent.
Lawmakers have not passed a single affordable housing bill.
“To focus on the idea that there were disagreements on two or three major policy points would not do the session justice,” Senate Speaker Wilton Simpson said.
According to John Burns Real Estate Consulting, rent in Lee County rose 26% last year. In Collier County, it was up 38%. The highest percentage increase in the country.
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