Calm down, Stacey. That adrenaline rush isn't coming from The Hulk ride. You work in the central Florida apartment industry! In a time where other markets throughout the country are experiencing population decreases central Florida is growing at an unprecedented rate! Many experts forecast that this period of growth in population and employment will continue for the foreseeable future. You may be excited about this growth or you might be concerned about it, but we should all be able to agree that it is our current reality.
According to the US Census Bureau; Orange County ranked #7 out of nearly 4,000 counties in numerical population growth (27,712 increase). Osceola County ranked #7 for percentage increase with 4.3% or 15,329 new residents.
The signs of this growth trend are everywhere you look from I4's seemingly neverending construction, Sunrail expansion, to new development, etc. All in, our region added nearly 60,000 in population in just one year between 2017 - 2018! There are tremendous benefits for our region associated with this growth such as increased options for employment, a burgeoning local business environment, and of course more prospects to keep your apartment communities full. That said, it also brings significant community challenges. One glaring example is the critically low supply of housing in both the for sale and rental markets. The result: upward pressure on home prices and rent. A lot of attention is focused on low income families, and it should be, but there is a much larger segment of our society impacted by this lack of inventory often referred to as the “missing middle” such as teachers, social workers, and other professionals.
For our industry, two unique challenges rise to the top. Building enough apartments to keep up with the projected demand and cultivating a workforce capable of staffing our communities. The association, and the apartment industry, have an important role to play in addressing both of these challenges.
New Apartment Development:
Industry and association leaders, and staff, have been advocating for smart growth policies at the state and local level for years now. The goal being to remove barriers to critically needed development and creating the right incentive programs to provide the resources for development of affordable housing. Two major pieces of legislation to support this effort statewide are heading for Governor DeSantis' desk shortly thanks to you and our partners at the Florida Apartment Association. Locally, we continue to partner and engage with elected officials on development related issues and affordable housing, most recently on Mayor Demings' "Housing for All" Task Force.
Our region needs to add at least 130,000 new apartment homes before 2030 just to keep up with projected demand. (WeAreApartments.org)
It is probably no surprise to you that our industry is starved for talent regionwide, especially on the maintenance side of the house. The association has responded, along with industry leaders, to bolster our internal education programming in addition to supporting a new talent pipeline in partnership with Valencia College. AAGO, FAA, IREM, and management companies members have contributed well over $100,000 in scholarships to support Valencia's Residential Property Management (RPM) Associate of Science Degree and the newly launched Apartment Maintenance Technician certificate program. These efforts are yielding results and highly trained new talent for the industry.
The most recent class for Valencia's AMT program had a nearly 100% hire rate for graduates!
The work continues, and the challenges as well, but the talented professionals within the association ranks and our industry are well equipped to position the industry (and our workforce) for success. Stay tuned at www.AAGO.org and through our communications for more information on how AAGO, FAA, and NAA are actively advocating on your behalf and cultivating the workforce for our future!