‘Disturbing’ findings on sea level rise’s effects warns of catastrophic economic impact

Affordable Housing
Without action now, inundation of coastal areas could leave Florida's service economy workers no place to live, a new report finds.

As if increased demand and low supply for housing weren’t driving up housing costs enough, a new study finds the effects of rising sea levels could soon push low-income and working-class Floridians out of their current neighborhoods.

The LeRoy Collins Institute, a nonpartisan, statewide policy organization based at Florida State University, is sounding the alarm about “climate gentrification” in a report released Monday. “Addressing Climate Driven Displacement,” says even though major effects from rising sea levels might be decades away, policies need to be put in place now to protect housing in the places where Florida’s service workers live.

Right now, most of the resources regarding sea level rise are focused on keeping water out or accommodating the flooding while maintaining the status quo. But more attention needs to be paid to protecting affordability in the inland areas, the 155-page report finds.

“Florida’s planners are reticent to acknowledge that under the most dire projections, some coastal areas will become inundated and uninhabitable within a few decades,” the report says.

That movement of wealthier, better-educated coastal residents to higher ground could mean there will be no place for the workers of Florida’s tourism service industry to live.

“The displacement of lower-income Floridians … could be catastrophic for Florida’s economy overall,” warned Julio Fuentes, president of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Residents and businesses currently occupying these inland areas will be forced to leave as pressures mount. Either they will be driven out by rising prices, or redevelopment projects will evict them entirely, the report warns.

Researchers recommend affordable housing protections, as well as maps and toolkits for residents and advocacy groups.

“These are disturbing findings — but this early warning should provide the timely impetus to act with resolve, but not out of fear,” said Dr. Lonna Rae Atkeson, executive director of the LeRoy Collins Institute. “We have to act now to protect the future of our coastal communities, including placing protections on affordable housing to ensure that Florida has a place for the vital workers, and their families, who support our economy.”

In conducting the LeRoy Collins Institute study, researchers focused on three of the most populous and diverse coastal communities in Florida: Duval, Miami-Dade and Pinellas counties. Using mapping, analysis of current policies, and interviews, researchers concluded that among the three, Pinellas County has “strong policy protections for affordable housing in progress,” but it’s uncertain if they will prevent resident displacement.

In Miami-Dade County, meanwhile, policymakers’ stated desire to preserve affordable housing hasn’t been able to challenge the current development momentum from domestic and foreign investors, the report says.

Duval County’s public agencies want to join with community advocacy groups sounding the alarm about the oncoming housing affordability crisis for inland areas, the report finds, but “it appears that politics have slowed down significant progress until recently.”

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • Matthew Lusk

    February 21, 2022 at 2:46 pm

    I don’t think young people over 12 are near as susceptible to climax hoax and lies as middle age urban women and homosexuals.

  • Ron Ogden

    February 21, 2022 at 2:50 pm

    “Without action now, inundation of coastal areas could leave Florida’s service economy workers no place to live, a new report finds.”
    Service economy workers typically don’t live on the beach.

    • a Homosexual in love with Mathew Lusk

      February 23, 2022 at 4:20 pm

      LOL. The point, right or wrong, is that rich people will move where we currently live (not on the beach, rivers, etc) and drive up the cost of housing.

  • PeterH

    February 21, 2022 at 2:50 pm

    Global warming is happening. Residents of Florida are on their own. We make our own life saving decisions. Everyone in the USA understands that Florida is flat and near sea level. There will be no Federal Government bailout when the ocean infiltrates our underground utilities, fresh water resources, flooded septic tanks and under water roadways and airports. Floridians are on their own and need to make their own survival plans.

    • Ron Ogden

      February 21, 2022 at 3:52 pm

      Sounds like we need to have a strong, visionary leader, like DeSantis, or maybe Trump.

      • zhombre

        February 21, 2022 at 4:47 pm

        Oh, no no no! We need Real Leaders recommended by Lincoln Project grifters and pimps like PeterH,. We need to move toward zero freaking carbon even if it immiserates the entire population.

  • Matthew Lusk

    February 21, 2022 at 3:54 pm

    The only person disturbed is Anne geggis.

  • zhombre

    February 21, 2022 at 4:13 pm

    Former President Obama has a house on water in Hawaii and in Cape Cod but that’s different. He walks on water.

  • Stan Chrzanowski

    February 22, 2022 at 10:34 am

    So, we lose the Everglades by 2070. Who cares?. I’ll be long gone and my grandkids will have moved north of here. It is what it is,

  • Larry W Sharer

    February 23, 2022 at 9:24 am

    When you write these climate articles, why don’t you provide balance by presenting opposing scientific theories as presented in the well written book Dark Winter by John l Casey, which says climate change has a 2006+_ year cycle and the big cooling period is coming in the 2030’s?

  • David W.

    February 23, 2022 at 12:31 pm

    The responses to the article are better than the article.

    One can’t solve a problem until the problem is properly identified and the problem is too much long term population growth. The eight billion people occupying the earth is the problem and the solutions are long term not short term paranoia. There were two billion people here when I was born. Just extrapolate, folks.

Comments are closed.


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