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Community Voices: Affordable housing is so much more than zoning

Dick Pierce



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Yippppee! Affordable housing is getting attention in the mayoral race. It includes, but it is so, so much more than new zoning.  Please – candidates, council, city staffs, and … especially, citizens – heed the size, the dimensions, the depth, the criticality of the affordable housing problem[s] in St Petersburg. Let’s get on this – big-time! Right now! Thank you.

A hearty and sincere “Bravo” to Mr. Kilgore and the members/board of the St Pete Tenants Union – your letter of non-support for “Zoning is the Answer [to Affordable Housing]” as the title for the recent mayoral forum is a bold, courageous statement that might just bring voters and candidates alike to the conclusion that there is no one solution to the affordable housing crisis in St Pete/Pinellas County … but rather, that it has many needs and causes and must be addressed by many, no all, of the fixes/solutions/programs we can think of – all of them – then we’ll need to deepen and broaden each of them, and then still create new ones … to start to address this problem. And, then crank the funding of all up to 10-times current rates, a very serious request – I mean 10X! The title felt odd: “Zoning is the Answer.”

It bothered me … but the Tenant’s Union did something about it. Please, readers, pay attention to this message – the problem is a crisis for 40,000 households (37%) of our city and at least 20,000 in the county. Thank you, Mr. Kilgore, for your vision, resolve and follow-through. To others, please listen to and act on this message.

We have a City 10-year plan that is doing what it can with the funds it has and has asked for. A plan with 2,400 new units in 10 years, that’s 240 a year, not even a drop in a 40,000 unit bucket. We need all the ways to solve this problem; we need support at local, state, and federal levels … support from all people – on the lower and higher sides of the income line. We badly need, immediately, more support for low-income renters; we need to help the renter rent affordably, the buyer to buy, the developer/builder to build, the property manager to offer … units at affordable prices, particularly for “lower-income (less than 80% AMI) households” – all 40,000 of them. We need to have the tax money raised for affordable housing – already millions and millions have been raised – allocated and spent on affordable housing, not used capriciously in Tallahassee to balance a budget shortfall. Let your dissent ring out to all, in unison with this zoning program, but let it ring louder and for all programs, and for 10 times (or more) the funding – public, private, foundation, individual – than is in the current plans.

Thank you. I plan to comment, in the future, more factually and completely on the totality, the width/depth, and the critical size of the affordable hHousing problem in St. Petersburg. And I plan to comment, and encourage all to think and discuss, all the avenues available … with more needed … to solve this problem and to begin those solutions right now.



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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ernest Mahaffey

    Ernest Mahaffey

    July 30, 2021at6:17 am

    I look forward to your factual analysis. Thanks for the motivation to stay tuned, ask questions and do something. Ernie

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