Millennials’ Housing Need: An Input to Comprehensive Plan


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, October 12th, 2015 – Property developers in Sarasota may have to get busy soon in seeking ways to fill the need for affordable housing for millennials, as this market niche has captured official attention in the county’s pursuit of an 18-month program launched early in 2015 to revise its comprehensive plan.

Availability of Sarasota homes for sale or rent within easy reach of millennials or those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s is one of the major concerns which surfaced during a workshop for students at the New College of Florida in mid-September. This workshop is part of a series of public meetings to gather various community inputs for the update of the Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan.

Millennial-friendly attributes

Millennials’ Housing Need: An Input to Comprehensive Plan

The need to address the requirement for millennials’ housing has been affirmed no less by Elma Felix, a county planner and one of the facilitators of the New College workshop. A millennial herself, Felix moved from Miami to Sarasota to pursue her career here two years ago, and she “felt the same struggle” in her search of affordable Sarasota housing.

Also included in the New College workshop participants’ wish list for the update of the county’s comprehensive plan are more local jobs, additional recreational events for young people and more youth-oriented facilities. Various mechanisms encouraging entrepreneurship and business opportunities for millennials is another area cited during the students’ consultation meeting.

Future growth drivers

Sarasota having strong millennial-friendly attributes is seen by analysts as critical for the county’s long-term growth. With its residents having a median age of 53.1, as per county planning data, the county has to maintain its homegrown millennials as well as attract a younger crop of population from the outside. The aging baby boomers constituting the bulk of Sarasota’s population and major source of economic muscle is surely bound to diminish in the near future, industry observers agree.

In particular, the workshop at New College showed the urgency in addressing millennials’ needs so as to encourage local students to stay after they graduate. Only 10 percent of the school’s workshop participants indicated that they will probably live in Sarasota after graduation, with the rest keen on pursuing careers elsewhere.

Platforms to build on

Nevertheless, there’s reason to be optimistic that Sarasota can win over to its fold the younger demographic needed to propel local business and industry for the long haul. Quite telling, recent data published at the Tampa Bay Journal indicate that the county already has a significant base of millennials to build upon. The paper reported that millennials in the age 20 to 34 bracket constitute 18 percent of the local population, a figure surprisingly near the 20 percent national average.

Also, strong platforms are in place to bolster Sarasota’s stature as a place for young professionals to grow their careers. The county is diversifying its economy, creating more jobs, and attracting many new business locators, in addition to existing local enterprises undertaking expansion initiatives. As encouraging, the county has a solid academic foundation in such institutions as Ringling College, University of South Florida, and of course, the New College of Florida whose student representatives participated in pinpointing guideposts for a comprehensive plan for the future of Sarasota County.