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TUESDAY April 26, 2022: 'Unaffordable' AMERICAN DREAM by award winning Tampa Bay Times photographer Martha Asencio-Rhine and journalist Lauren Peace: As Tampa Bay's housing prices continue to skyrocket, ordinary people are feeling the g-forces of a rapidly changing region. A shortage of houses for sale has resulted in a unprecedented competition for those in the market to buy a property. This market trend has taken the dream of homeownership well beyond the means of middle class Americans, who are increasingly up against higher income buyers for what seems like an ever decreasing smaller pool of homes. For some, the climbing demand and soaring costs are a sign of prosperity, while for others, the change is proving devastating. As the housing supply is dwarfed by demand, longtime residents are left with nowhere to go. Suddenly, people who once lived modest but comfortable lives are bracing for homelessness. Voices from the front lines of Tampa Bay's housing boom, including would be home owners, tenants, landlords and those just trying to help describe this moment in their own words. Welcome to 'Unaffordable' AMERICAN DREAM
© zReportage.com Story of the Week #836: TUESDAY April 26, 2022: 'Unaffordable' AMERICAN DREAM by award winning Tampa Bay Times photographer Martha Asencio-Rhine and journalist Lauren Peace: As Tampa Bay's housing prices continue to skyrocket, ordinary people are feeling the g-forces of a rapidly changing region. A shortage of houses for sale has resulted in a unprecedented competition for those in the market to buy a property. This market trend has taken the dream of homeownership well beyond the means of middle class Americans, who are increasingly up against higher income buyers for what seems like an ever decreasing smaller pool of homes. For some, the climbing demand and soaring costs are a sign of prosperity, while for others, the change is proving devastating. As the housing supply is dwarfed by demand, longtime residents are left with nowhere to go. Suddenly, people who once lived modest but comfortable lives are bracing for homelessness. Voices from the front lines of Tampa Bay's housing boom, including would be home owners, tenants, landlords and those just trying to help describe this moment in their own words. Welcome to 'Unaffordable' AMERICAN DREAM
TATIANNA MARINO outside the apartment she rents which is considered affordable housing and she received rental assistance to be able to keep up her payments. Wages aren't increasing at nearly the same pace as costs and as the housing supply is dwarfed by demand, longtime residents are left with nowhere to go. Suddenly, many people who once lived modest but comfortable lives are bracing for homelessness.
© Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire
From left: ALLISON LAMB, 14, ENYA DENISE LAMB, 16, ANA LAMB, 47, and ROBERT LAMB, 48, stand in front of the vacation house they rented for a few days. The family recently sold their home in New Port Richey to relocate to a home in Wimauma. Delays in closing have left them in-between homes and they have decided to go stay with Ana's family in Mexico for free rather than pay the high cost of short-term rent, until their Wimauma home is ready.
© Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire
Artist MELANIE POSNER, sits in her art studio located below her apartment. She has been told to vacate in two weeks but has not found an affordable place to go. 'The art community in St. Pete is really special. Everyone is supportive and since there are so many art appreciators here I feel like there's always work, but I'm finally at this point where I don't know if I can afford to live here anymore,' says Porner.
© Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire
ADRIAN AYE outside his apartment building in Tampa. Aye works in marketing but has taken up selling on Ebay and driving for Uber as side hustles in order to afford the 30 percent increase in rent.
© Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire
JENNIFER LUMM, a special education teacher at San Jose Elementary School who recently mobilized teachers and others she reached through her Facebook posts, to help one of her students, a kindergartner who lives with his father and who were facing eviction with nowhere to go.
© Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire
TATIANNA MARINO stands at the door to the apartment she rents for her and her three children. The apartment is considered affordable housing and she received rental assistance through 'Our Florida' with the help of her landlord but Marino still struggles with payments and her landlord is trying to work with her to keep her in the home in Tampa.
© Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire
RACHELLE WILSON, 35, works on connecting families with services and increased need. 'Getting assistance can be a job in itself. It's a lot of paperwork. It's a lot of talking. It's a lot of calling, and individuals who are going through the experience of losing their housing can't always connect the dots. They're in survival mode, or they've given up. That's where I come in. They're going through crisis. I bring them clarity,' Wilson says.
© Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire
BARBARA MELLEN-WILSON stands for a portrait outside the two-unit rental property she owns. A survivor of domestic violence, Mellen-Wilson would eventually like to open housing to women escaping abusive relationships but she is starting with one property at a time. Currently she is working with one of her tenants, assisting her to receive rental assistance through 'Our Florida.' Mellen-Wilson would like to avoid evicting her tenant but must receive the rent to pay her mortgage and other bills.
© Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire
CAROLYN BALLENGER at her sister's house. Ballinger, her disabled daughter and her granddaughter were recently evicted from their home and are in the process of looking for a new place to go. The difficulty has been finding an affordable place that has sufficient space for the three of them, including a 5-year-old child.
© Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire
LOUIE TALACAY, a Tampa Bay realtor, stands in front of a 3.2-bath house he listed in Dunedin which just sold for over 700,000 USD. 'When I started in 2014, it was a buyer's market. I could get people into a house with $9,000 in the bank, and there were lots of homes to choose from. Now, you need 40 to 60k upfront, and better be prepared to offer above the asking price' states Talacay.
© Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire
MAX RUDISSER and WHITNEY WRIGHT recently relocated from Atlanta to Tampa and are looking to buy their first home, in the area. They realize prices are high but they have been saving and hope to make an investment in a home close to downtown Tampa.
© Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire
Landlord TODD GOODING sits on the front porch of his home in Pasadena. Gooding owns several rental properties and cannot avoid increasing rent due to the high cost of materials and services he needs to manage the properties.
© Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire
CAROLYN BALLENGER poses for a portrait with her 5-year-old granddaughter, LYLA BALLENGER. The pair, along with Ballinger's disabled daughter, were recently evicted from their home and are in the process of looking for a new place to go. In the meantime they are staying with Ballinger's sister. The difficulty has been finding an affordable place that has sufficient space.
© Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire
MICHELLE DAVIS, 70, was born and raised in St. Petersburg and grew up in the Gas Plant neighborhood that was bulldozed to build what is now Tropicana Field. In January, Davis was evicted from her home of six years after an investment firm bought the house she was renting and decided to not renew her lease.
© Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire
RACHELLE WILSON helps families on the brink of losing their homes through her work at Metropolitan Ministries. Wilson has noticed an increasing number of people in need of help recently.
© Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire
Martha Asencio

My love of photography was born along with my first son, who I couldn't stop making pictures of with newly-available digital cameras, five megapixels top. I transitioned to making pictures of all my family, other families, a small wedding here or there. But the pros I admired were working in photojournalism and it was those types of photos I wanted to make. I went back to school in 2014 and got a degree in journalism. Now I'm thrilled to be the rookie photographer on the multimedia team for my hometown paper The Tampa Bay Times. I live in St. Petersburg with my husband, two sons and two geckos. Besides photography I love to dance, spend time outdoors and read novels.:836



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