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City council allocates $3.5 million in housing assistance

Mark Parker



A mural by artist Zulu Painter adorns Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA) Pinellas' Family Justice Center in St. Petersburg. The organization will receive $150,000 for housing stability programs. Photo by Mark Parker.

St. Petersburg residents struggling to afford rent, pay utility bills and avoid homelessness will benefit from city officials dedicating over $3.5 million in federal funding to housing initiatives.

The city received its third and final reallocation of pandemic-era Emergency Rental Assistance funding (ERA2) in April. At their Oct. 19 meeting, council members unanimously approved adding the $956,924 to a previously unspent $2.55 million installment .

The council also agreed on how to obligate the money, which previously came with stringent federal stipulations. However, Avery Slyker, assistant director for housing and community development, said the U.S. Department of Treasury has eased requirements for administrators and applicants.

“In ERA2, all residents can self-attest to their Covid impact,” Slyker said. “We found that inflation is definitely the number one cause, and the Treasury Department said we can absolutely use that. Everything is literally a check of a box this time.”

Administrators designated $1.5 million to help residents pay city utilities. They also allocated $1.5 million for past-due electric bill assistance to Duke Energy Florida.

Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA) Pinellas will use $150,000 to provide housing stability for 30 families. The St. Petersburg Housing Authority received $100,00 to help 50 households with security deposits and application fees.

The Boley Centers plans to provide rental assistance for 160 households with their $75,000 allocation. Councilmember Richie Floyd said he “wholeheartedly” supported the resolution and asked how Duke would administer the $1.5 million.

“We are in the process of developing that right now,” Slyker said. “Duke Energy already has this program established, and they’ve done this in other counties. They’ve got a whole database that they utilize that can weed out who are renters versus homeowners.”

She added that the company will proactively contact low-income customers and ask if they want to join the program. Slyker said residents would then answer a few questions before approval.

She said administrators are still discussing a framework with billing and collections officials for the city utility program. Floyd said he would like to hear program updates in the future.

The American Rescue Plan Act established the ERA program in 2021. The Treasury Department awarded $21 million to Pinellas County and $8 million to St. Petersburg.

A plethora of residents applied for assistance as soaring rents coincided with job losses and hospital stays. The city exhausted its funding in about a month.

Federal officials announced a plan to reallocate unencumbered ERA money in June 2022. St. Petersburg received $2.45 million and dedicated $254,406 to administrative uses and $2.2 million to help fund the Burlington Post 2 affordable housing development.

Administrators applied for another reallocation round and received $2.55 million in January. Amy Foster, housing and community development administrator, told the Catalyst in February that they requested “considerably more” than they received.

A county contractor previously administered city ERA funding to individual tenants. However, Foster said it could take a year to establish a new process “that, based on previous experience, would be expended in a few months’ time.”

“We felt that addressing the root cause of the issue was the most sustainable way to use these one-time funds,” Foster said at the time.

Administrators must dedicate 75% of the federal funding to rental assistance and housing stability initiatives before using the money to construct affordable housing. Slyker noted Oct. 19 that officials have already dedicated nearly $2 million to build new units without meeting that requirement.

“The city has only spent 71% of the ERA2 allocations on financial assistance and housing stability,” Slyker said. “Therefore, part of our request today is to obligate $3,506,707.16 for those funds.”







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  1. Avatar

    Cynthia Ivey

    November 20, 2023at11:00 am

    Thank you City of Saint Petersburg and thank you Avery Slyker.

  2. Avatar

    Phyllis Dodge

    October 24, 2023at1:19 am

    I’ve been trying to find assistance paying a mortgage payment and outrageous electric bill. No funds are ever available. Ever , I’d like to know among others where does this money really go? Duke is robbing us blind. If utilities would cap rates increase it would help more than money we can’t have.

  3. Avatar


    October 23, 2023at4:05 pm

    It would be a lot easier to pay my bills if the government stopped using its monopoly on force to steal my paycheck to gift other people’s rent in an attempt to buy votes.

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