CAPE CORAL, Fla. — New data from Florida Gulf Coast University shows rent in Cape Coral is not dropping. Instead, the year-over-year increase continues to rise.
The rental index, with numbers collected by FGCU, Florida Atlantic University, and the University of Alabama, says Cape Coral is the top metro city with the sharpest year-over-year rent increase. The index shows a 13% increase. The average rent is a little more than $2,300 and it should be around $2,000.
"The high rent and people want security deposit, plus last month, plus a first month so you have to have at least $5,000 to move in," said Autumn Moore, who is struggling to find an affordable place to rent. "It just seems impossible."
Moore, her fiance Brittany and her dog Remy have been looking for a place for about four months. Moore lives with roommates and pays around $600. She's looking for a place between $1,500 and $1,700, but says she has only found one.
The numbers in the index come from Zillow. As of Friday, there are 104 places to rent in Cape Coral. However, those are for homes under $2,200. Based on numbers historically, the index says rent should be around $2,000 currently.
"We are woefully behind in terms of supplying new units to the market — both rental units and units for purchase," said Dr. Shelton Weeks, an FGCU real estate professor and contributor to the index.
He and other experts have been tracking this for a year. Recently they added what the Department of Housing and Urban Development calls "rent burdened" and "severely rent burdened."
To be considered severely rent-burdened in Cape Coral and Fort Myers, Weeks says you would make around $56,000 in gross income.
"So if you make less than that and you are renting, then HUD would consider you severely rent-burdened," he explained. "You’re spending more than 50% of your gross income on housing."
HUD considers its definition based on income and includes utilities. However, Weeks says they are more conservative and do not include it.
"They would be spending more than 30% of their gross income on housing [rent-burdened]," he said.
To see any sort of slide in prices, Weeks says it comes back to people building the homes and apartments.
"I think incentives for developers are a big part of this," he said. "We also need help from our elected officials. There’s no quick fix. It takes years to add inventory."
Gov. Ron DeSantis has also taken action, signing a housing act back in March. It has mixed reviews, but the law gives tax exemptions to developers with the hope of enticing them financially.
It also bans cities from enacting rent caps, which some say is not helping renters as anyone can charge what they would like. However, Weeks says it would turn away developers by putting a cap on rent.
"It stifles future development," Weeks said.
A stifle people like Moore cannot afford to see right now.
"It's very stressful, I cannot find anything," she said. "I want to get stable and live my life."