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FAST puts pressure on City of St. Pete to tackle affordable housing crisis

Megan Holmes



Thousands gathered at FAST's 2018 Nehemiah Action at Tropicana Field.

The growing housing affordability crisis continues to dominate community conversations, and Monday night it will take center stage at Tropicana Field.

A coalition of more than 40 Pinellas religious congregations known as Faith and Action for Strength Together (FAST) plans to bring together 3,000 Pinellas County residents during its annual Nehemiah Action this evening, to hold St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman accountable for keeping his promise of spending $15 million Penny for Pinellas funds on affordable housing before 2030.

Penny for Pinellas, which was reauthorized by referendum in 2017 for 2020-2029, is a one-cent surtax that levies sales tax revenues to pay for infrastructure.

With FAST’s urging, Mayor Kriseman recommended the $15 million allocation of Penny for Pinellas funds to City Council, which Council adopted in 2017. According to a press release, FAST is disappointed to see that despite the severity of the housing situation, the city does not plan to spend Penny for Pinellas money on land for affordable housing immediately. The city’s FY 2019 budget (which projects five years out) does not assign Penny for Pinellas funds toward housing until 2023.

On Monday night, FAST will put pressure on Kriseman to begin spending Penny for Pinellas funds in 2020, and spend a majority of the funds over the next five years.

According to St. Petersburg Deputy City Administrator Tom Greene, the city’s projected budget is not set in stone, but rather updated yearly. FY 2020 budgets will go to the City Council later this month. Greene said that the funds were not assigned to housing until 2023 because there were not current housing projects on the city’s desk during the 2019 budget process. According to city documents, Neighborhood Affairs director Robert Gerdes had previously stated that City Council would have to vote to “unfund” another project, in order to prioritize affordable housing sooner.

That has since changed. The City is currently in the process of negotiating the purchase of 4.76 acres at 635 64th St S., the current site of Grace Connection Church near Pasadena. Gerdes brought the project before the Housing, Land Use, and Transportation committee in late March. He anticipates that if all goes well, the project will move forward in FY 2020. The purchase would be the first use of the $15 million Penny for Pinellas funds, at a projected cost of $1.75 million. Gerdes also mentioned that the city is actively engaged in negotiations of another project that has not yet been announced.

According to city documents, the Grace Connection Church site could yield as many as 98 units after it goes through a rezoning process. If the city abides by Resolution 2018-385, 75 percent of those units would be allocated toward families making $50,000 per year or less. That resolution, allocating 75 percent of units leveraged by Penny for Pinellas funds toward families making 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI), was another commitment that FAST secured from City Council in 2018.

Still, the project timeline is considerable. Gerdes said that the city will hold a public meeting in late April and the purchase contract is set to go to City Council in May. Following that approval, a considerable amount of time will be dedicated to rezoning the subject property and the request for proposals from affordable housing developers.

Housing, Land Use, and Transportation Committee Chair Brandi Gabbard said the city is in the process of creating zoning and land use regulations known as overlay zones that would make affordable housing easier to build throughout the city, regardless of largely single family zoning categories; but those regulations don’t yet exist.

FAST’s Nehemiah Action takes place Monday night at 7 p.m. at Tropicana Field. It is free and open to the public. Other issues to be discussed include youth arrests, the implementation of Restorative Justice Practices in Pinellas County schools, racial profiling and mental health concerns.


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  1. Avatar

    Angel Rivera

    April 8, 2019at2:55 pm

    This is still too little

  2. Avatar


    April 8, 2019at3:50 pm


    We’ve put aside our Typewriters for Laptops; we’ve put aside our horses for cars; we virtually live on our Cell phones. So why do we still build houses like we did in 1890?





    Steel SIP Technology. {Structural Insulated Panels] is the Future of Residential Housing.

    The last PIT census of Homeless in our two county areas is 4,236. Almost heroic efforts are being made by all of us to house our homeless. But all our efforts “collectively” are just making a small dent in reducing the total numbers of homeless in Tampa Bay. Can’t we do better?

    Steel SIPs are better. And the total investment of a Workshop to produce such Better, Stronger, Faster, Cheaper housing is the median cost of only ONE 1712 sq. ft. house in Tampa.
    With THAT investment we can start a revolution in Tampa Bay Affordable Housing and be a Model to the rest of the State.
    Any non-profit group among us can set up the Building, Equipment, and Tools necessary to turn out 10 Mini-Houses a day of High Tech quality. Only 4 persons are needed to run it.

    Estimates indicate that this Not-for-profit Workshop can provide the houses to us for as little as $10.00 per sq. ft. for the complete dried-in-shell [which includes Solid 4” Steel Insulated Walls, 6” beautiful insulated tri-dimensional Roofs, Thermal Vinyl Windows and Steel Insulated Doors]. For $50.00 per sq. ft. we can have a complete Turnkey House of 400 to 600 sq. ft….materials and labor. [On land provided by the County or others].

    This little Workshop factory is a non-stressful operation and hopefully will belong to one of you or all of us with TAMPA BAY HOUSING THE HOMELESS…faster. It would NOT alter your business model in helping your clients…but it could help you speed up your work and save you money on construction costs. I promise to FACILITATE getting it set up and operating.

    The new Buccaneer Training Facility at One Buc Place in Tampa is built with Steel SIPs.

    Carl Hebinck, Veteran, Retired Florida Building Contractor, Volunteer with Celebrate Outreach.
    2468 Florentine Way, #50; Clearwater, FL 33763 727 902 5487

    To see these beautiful Steel SIP houses going up go to Youtube and watch the 8:47 min video:

  3. Avatar

    Minnie Martin

    April 8, 2019at4:32 pm

    Good luck with kriesman!! As long as big spenders keep flocking to DTSP the low income will never get affordable housing. I am a Democrat and have never voted for him, because he’s all about making a name for himself!!

  4. Avatar

    Rose Smith-Hayes

    April 8, 2019at11:58 pm

    So true.

  5. Avatar

    Keith Burke

    April 10, 2019at4:00 pm

    This Grace Connection Church is directly behind my house, thus not thrilled at all with there putting in Affrodable Housing in my back yard. No one is going to want to purchase my waterfront pad at market value with an affordable living project in back yard. I busted my ass to get out of South Saint Petersburg as a youth having graduated Lakewood High, then went to Marines then went to college on my own dime and then clawed my way thru the corporate latter in hopes to secure a nice home in a peaceful crime free neighborhood. I have been very blessed and successful in securing a waterfront property on Bear Creek after years of blood, sweat and tears. I now have an Affordable Living Project with 96 Units going up in my back yard. Don’t preach to me about fudged govt propagandize stats and how property values and crime stats aren’t negatively impacted by affordable housing moving into middle class neighborhoods. I have experienced first hand the nightmares associated with such projects; thus have had a so called Preacher rent out a property next door for affordable housing to which was a rotating door of crack heads and meth heads with the Preacher now in Jail for fraud. The entire neighborhood had to deal with this nightmare and now I have a potential 96 Unit UN2030 rack em an pack em Project going up in back yard. Unless you are in my shoes with a Project going up in your back yard don’t preach to me.

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