With real estate prices going through the roof, homeownership is getting out of reach for many moderate income families.
Port St. Joe, trying to make the conversion from a mill town to a tourism destination, is feeling the crunch. Local officials are beginning to criticize the lack of affordable housing.
Gulf County's local developers have been coming under scrutiny lately. Local politicians want to know their plans for creating low cost housing.
John Hendry, St. Joe Co. VP, said, "Well, we all know that we're living at the beach where people are desperate to come to. Therefore, prices have gone up remarkably over the last couple of years."
St. Joe Company, the county's biggest developer, says they're doing their part. Bridgeport is a 37-lot subdivision specifically targeting the needs of moderate income families.
"The first home in here sold for under $100,000, and the last home selling in here are selling about $130,000.
And in an effort to keep speculators from driving up the price, owners are required to live here for at least five years. If they sell early, a portion of the proceeds will go back to the Community Development Corporation.
Danny Bolden of the corporation said, “We like to call it obtainable housing, but we're also focusing primarily on providing workforce housing."
With grants and help from some local banks, the development corporation was able to help a number of families obtain the American dream.
"We managed to get at least five families in this project with down payment assistance and in some cases we brought up to $26,000."
This is the first development of its kind that St. Joe Company created in Gulf County. It affects 37 families in a county of about 15,000, and no one will deny that more needs to be done.
St. Joe Construction Company officials say they're also working with apartment developers to create an affordable rental community in Gulf County.