Last Friday, in response to demands from St. Pete City Council chair Lisa Wheeler Bowman, Congressman Charlie Crist penned a letter to Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, sharing the community’s concerns and asking for HUD intervention.
The letter comes after Bowman, who represents Jordan Park in District 7, organized a press conference that same day to address the St. Petersburg Housing Authority (SPHA) and its plans for the redevelopment of Jordan Park. Bowman became concerned when she heard the stories of displaced senior and disabled residents living in Jordan Park’s Historic Village, who were required to move out to accommodate the property’s proposed demolition.
Other elected officials stood beside Bowman and echoed her call for change, including Pinellas County School Board chair Rene Flowers, Executive Director of the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum Terri Lipsey Scott, Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin. Fellow council members Gina Driscoll, Darden Rice, and Steve Kornell also attended the press conference, but were advised not to speak due to the Sunshine Law.
Bowman specifically addressed a representative of Crist, who was in attendance, to demand action from the congressman.
“I am now demanding, Congressman Crist, that you request that the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, including the office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, initiate any appropriate federal review of all St. Pete Housing Authority properties, the conditions and the federal subsidies associated therewith,” said Bowman.
“I am demanding that there be an investigation into the disparate management of St. Pete Housing Authority properties south of Central versus north of Central.”
Crist delivered on some of Bowman’s demands in his formal letter. He asked HUD to review St. Petersburg Housing Authority’s plans for the redevelopment of Jordan Park and work with the Housing Authority to address community concerns. Instead of asking for a federal review of all St. Petersburg Housing Authority properties, Crist turned HUD’s attention to the Housing Choice Voucher program, and asked what the department plans to do to improve it.
Crist also invite Secretary Carson to visit Jordan Park.
The full letter from Congressman Crist can be viewed here.