Housing & Neighborhoods One PSJ

Vision Statement

In October of 2018 Hurricane Michael hit Port St. Joe, exposing issues rooted in the structure and history of the city. The hurricane destroyed much of the existing housing stock, displacing residents and exacerbating the challenge of housing affordability. With high construction costs, residents of low to medium income levels struggle to continue living in the city today. Our vision is a Port St. Joe community unified in its opinions, values, and long-range goals. Our proposal includes diversifying housing types, reducing construction costs through modular methods, and consistent public engagement.

Problem Overview

Our housing plans for Port St. Joe are centered on community, incorporating the interests of diverse stakeholders into a shared vision. We propose to increase affordable housing opportunities through clearly defined housing types that respond to the character, function, and existing space in the city.

Each step of our proposal will be implemented alongside a communication component to facilitate transparency and public engagement. Our One Port St. Joe campaign, a community-based communications approach, builds social resilience and drives intentional development. Creating a well-defined vision ensures that changes to the city do not uproot the fabric of the community. Enhancing transparency through open communication lines will create inclusion and increased participation among stakeholders.

Goals & Objectives

Goals and Objectives

Through research and on-site tours with community members, we were able to analyze the existing housing composition and needs of Port St. Joe. We consulted city planning documents, FEMA flood maps, and created a suitability model combining the two to identify potential sites. Spending time in the city allowed us to explore housing types and where they might be implemented.

A successful built environment intervention will require community engagement and collaboration. Facilitating more shared spaces in the city will strengthen relationships across citizen groups. The notion of a shared vision is emphasized through our goal of a communications campaign, One PSJ, that will create a visible brand for the city, understood by people within and beyond the city limits.

Community Input

Identifying Concerns

We spent five days in Port St. Joe, during which we met with over 50 diverse community members who presented us with over 50 unique stories and ideas. Each of these ideas showcased the level of inspiration and interest among local citizens, but also emphasized a strong disconnect between community members. Affordable housing stands out as the number one local concern, immediately followed by the significant issue of a missing communication system to harness these diverse perspectives for a common vision.

Insights from community leaders, business owners, families, city employees, teachers, and many more highlighted logistical issues surrounding cost, existing regulations, community engagement, and space. Groups within the community have different relationships to and hopes for Port St. Joe. Segregation and specific stakeholder interests may politicize and further aggravate the cycle of poor communication.

Challenges Identified through Community Input

These challenges translate into meaningful opportunities to improve communication and efficiency within the city. Through listening sessions, tabling, and information at existing local events, city officials can demonstrate their commitment to serving the public interest. Existing initiatives through churches and schools help address the emotional burden of Hurricane Michael through developing a community narrative. A book of hurricane stories written by local high schoolers is displayed in the library, and similar projects should continue as the community rebuilds.

Opportunities to Improve Communication

Port St. Joe Housing and Neighborhoods Proposal Video

Focusing on the lack of workforce housing in Port St. Joe, our group spoke to community members and stakeholders to help come up with a housing and PR strategy while telling the story of the resiliency of the people in the community.

Existing Conditions

Alongside its long-term residents, Port St. Joe has many temporary stakeholders. Commuters, vacationers, seasonal residents, and investors all have divergent interests, creating complex economic and housing dynamics. It is important to consider all of these in creating a built environment that can effectively fulfil the needs of permanent residents alongside weekend visitors.

Community Profile

Currently, Port St. Joe has very few multifamily and long-term rental options. 88% of the local housing supply, excluding RV and trailer parks, consists of single-family homes (UF Shimberg Center for Housing Studies). Many homesteaders are displaced, living in temporary housing on their property or outside of the city, as they attempt to rebuild.

Existing Conditions and Vacant Lots

The current housing market can also be broken down into permanent, semi-permanent, and temporary categories. Our proposal focuses on permanent housing, particularly creating options to rent at $750 - $1,200 monthly and options to purchase single family homes for less than $300,000. These numbers are based on the Gulf County income and housing cost limits, as reported by the UF Shimberg Center for Housing Studies.

Existing Housing Overview. Orange fields indicate our areas of focus.

Our Proposal

Our proposal focuses on increasing permanent housing solutions. Maintaining a base of long-term residents is crucial for the cultural identity of the city, contributing to schools, industry, and a sense of community. Permanent residents help define Port St. Joe as more than a vacation destination, but also an attractive place to live year-round or start a business.

Guiding principles for our proposal include:

  • Free Market Resolution
  • Freedom of Choice
  • Triple Bottom Line: Economy, People, and Environment

We believe it is imperative to reflect on these principles throughout the ideation and implementation phases in addressing home affordability. At its core, a thriving city has productive and educated permanent residents and any initiative should continue to attract, nurture, and sustain these citizens. Increasing local housing availability will help develop the local economy, as businesses require housing options for their employees.

Guiding Principles

Currently, most of Port St. Joe is characterized by low density, single family homes. We propose to address issues of housing affordability by diversifying the housing response with four main typologies:

  • Multifamily housing
  • Upzoning
  • Infill housing
  • Affordable single family housing
Multifamily housing, Upzoning, Infill housing, and Affordable Single Family Housing

The map below shows potential locations for these development types. North Port St. Joe shows opportunities for infill and single-family homes on vacant lots, downtown for upzoning, and both the eastern and southern edges of the city for dense, multifamily development.

Potential Locations for Housing Solutions

Community Amenities

Along with housing, our proposal suggests incorporating community amenities to facilitate interaction across neighborhoods. Social integration will strengthen the feeling of community identity, which will assist in future planning endeavors and help the city better mitigate future disasters. Examples of community amenities include entertainment features such as a movie theater or splash park, and a permanent market space to encourage new small businesses and strengthen the local economy.

Community Amenity Examples

Multifamily Housing

In our proposal, multifamily housing is defined as an apartment building style housing option. Developing a few large, multi-story buildings that feature units ranging from Studio/Efficiency size to three bedrooms will increase rental options. This housing typology incorporates the use of shared space in areas such as a pool and playground, providing individual unit holders with property amenities beyond the walls of their individual apartment.

Multifamily Housing
Multifamily Housing Examples


Upzoning is a housing affordability strategy that enables an efficient use of land by increasing height allowances and residential density. In our proposal, we encourage upzoning in mixed use areas, with ground level units designated for area businesses and apartment space above. These units can incorporate amenities, such as play areas, pools, or green spaces, that could exist on the roof of the building. Martin Luther King and Williams Avenue are potential sites suitable for upzoning. These areas do not currently meet their density potential and increasing building heights would not interfere with the existing character of the site. An existing local example is The Cozy Café, a restaurant in North Port St. Joe with apartment space above.

Upzoning Examples

Infill Housing

In our proposal, infill housing is defined as multifamily housing constructed in vacant lots that once were for single family homes. The approach is to minimize the need for providing multifamily housing on large pieces of expensive land. Infill housing addresses opportunities in using small land parcels to house multiple individual units, while maintaining height considerations to recognize the context of the neighbourhood.

Infill Housing
Infill Housing Examples

Single Family Housing

Affordable single-family housing is proposed to continue building opportunities for homeownership for middle income individuals and families. This housing type enables families to live in an independent home on a parcel of land, made affordable through incorporation of low-cost construction techniques.

Affordable Single Family Housing
Single Family Housing Examples

Construction costs can be addressed for all of these typologies by embracing modular methods. The opportunities modular construction provide include a reduction in construction costs, construction crew size, and time while providing versatility of design and scaling.

Modular construction is estimated to cost around $65 - $150 per square foot, versus the $220 - $275 square foot cost of stick-built construction in Port St. Joe. This can be attributed to the quicker construction time, and less reliance on local materials which are more expensive. Although modular housing has been around for over 100 years, it is still not widely adopted. Some communities worry about loss of jobs in the construction industry.

Next Steps

The next step of our proposal is creating the One PSJ community campaign, with the goal of streamlining ideas from citizens and stakeholders on how to solve the housing issue. The campaign will ensure consistent communication between all stakeholders and the general public in developing and maintaining a common vision for the future of the city.

It will also feature a branding campaign that unites various groups of the population from different socioeconomic backgrounds. With the slogan “One Vision, One Future, One Port Saint Joe”, the campaign will emphasize social inclusivity and is future oriented. The 1PSJ campaign will spread a succinct image of what the city stands for to residents of Port St. Joe and beyond, a vehicle to bring new stakeholders into the local economy.

Branding Concepts


  • Moritz Cleve | PhD Student | Journalism and Communications
  • Kim Fowler | Professional Masters | Communications
  • Carlee Simon | PhD Student | Design, Construction, and Urban Planning
  • Sophia Palombo | Undergraduate | Sustainability and the Built Environment

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Photo sources:


  • https://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20191204/twin-lakes-estates-to-address-lakelandrsquos-affordable-housing-crunch
  • https://www.unilodgers.com/us/tampa-fl/the-standard-at-tampa
  • http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20200114-the-glitzy-european-city-going-green


  • https://grist.org/cities/want-to-encourage-the-development-of-walkable-neighborhoods-fix-this/
  • https://starlocalmedia.com/carrolltonleader/new-downtown-carrollton-development-to-be-a-jewel/article_4d70e7fe-308f-11e5-aa8f-87f8e0819723.html
  • https://www.coastaljoevacationrentals.com/port-st-joe-restaurants


  • https://markstewart.com/architectural-style/skinny-house-plans/page/3/
  • https://brooksscarpa.com/the-nest-toolkit
  • https://kgarch.com/awards/

Single Family

  • https://www.hybridcorehomes.com
  • https://kafgw.com/20-fresh-modular-cottages-for-sale/
  • https://www.ryanhomes.com/new-homes/our-homes/single-family/adrian/ADR00

Community Amenities

  • https://www.pinchercreekvoice.com/2017/01/southern-alberta-communities-awarded.html
  • https://www.auburnalabama.org/parks/events-and-calendar/outdoor-movie-series/
  • https://finallylost.com/hala-targowa-food-market-in-wroclaw/