It’s no secret that homeownership is becoming more and more difficult for service workers to obtain. Here in Marion County, we’ve seen unprecedented growth – a 12 percent increase in population between 2010-2020. Many of these new residents arrived thanks to the addition of packing warehouses or “fulfillment centers” in our region, and while we are thankful for the economic growth, many of those positions pay below what most households need to afford housing. Add to that the tremendous demand-created housing crunch rapidly rising costs during the pandemic, and it is nearly impossible for our service people – waiters, retail workers, cashiers, firefighters and many of those who make up the backbone of our community – to find and afford a home for themselves and their families. Special care needs to be taken to ensure that this area continues to be a good place for people to live, work, and raise families rather than becoming a region where everyday workers struggle to make ends meet. As Realtors®, this is a cause that is dear to our profession – and to our hearts.
That’s why OMCAR has partnered with the Florida Housing Coalition and the Housing Finance Authority of Marion County, as well as other concerned community organizations, on the Homes Matter Workforce Housing Action Plan. Designed to help meet the housing needs of the growing workforce in Ocala and Marion County, the plan is rooted in in-depth research and proposes innovative solutions based on the findings. Recommendations range from hiring a housing ombudsman to establishing a high-functioning local affordable housing trust fund. You’ll find the full report here (link to report). From here, the report and recommendations go to local legislators for review. We are proud to be a part of this incredibly important initiative and look forward to a positive outcome and a brighter future for our community.