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Here are St. Pete’s plans for affordable housing for the next year

Margie Manning

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One part of the plan calls for the city to provide funding to Habitat for Humanity to build homes, such as those pictured here.

The City of St. Petersburg has detailed the projects it plans to work on in the upcoming fiscal year to expand affordable housing, end homelessness and assist people living with HIV/AIDS.

Among the projects are expanded programs to provide down payment and closing costs to help eligible households buy homes, and to provide funding for apartment developers to buy or rehab affordable rental housing.

The projects are included in a draft of the city’s 2021-2026 consolidated plan. The plan is required to receive state and federal funds that can be used for affordable housing.

The draft plan details a host of issues that have made it tough for low- to-moderate income individuals and families to find homes they can afford.

As the population grows, there’s been a surge in market-rate housing development, but the production of affordable housing has not kept up at the same rate. Vacant land on which to build is scarce.

The median sales price of a home increased from $186,450 in December 2015 to $325,000 in October 2020, the draft plan said, citing the Pinellas Realtor Organization. That increase of 43 percent has left the city’s low- to moderate income households with little opportunity to afford to buy a home, and the price hikes are expected to continue.

Fair market rent in the city for a two-bedroom apartment was $959 in 2015. In 2021, the same apartment rented for $1,271. A household would need an income of $48,235 a year to afford that apartment.

Currently, more than 30,000 households spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs, including 17,363 households that spend at least 50 percent of their income on housing. That leaves little money for necessities such as health care, transportation and food.

To address those issues the city has offered up to $40,000 for purchase assistance for a new home in the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area. It has bought vacant lots through foreclosure and sold them to non-profit developers for $10. The non-profit must build new housing and sell it to an income-eligible buyer within one year. The city also provided up to $10,000 in incentives to the developers.

The city’s goal over the past five years was to help in the construction of 35 new single-family homes. It blew past that goal, with 63 new single-family homes being built, the draft plan said.

Expanded goals

The consolidated plan looks ahead, offering strategies and goals to address housing issues over the next five years and detailing specific actions slated for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. They are:

• New construction of affordable homes for 35 households in the South St. Pete Community Redevelopment Area (CRA). The city will provide funding to Habitat for Humanity to buy land for five new homes and provide developer incentives to build 30 affordable homes to be sold to income-eligible first-time homebuyers.

• New construction and rehab of affordable rental housing for 300 households citywide and in the South St. Petersburg CRA. City funds would be used to buy property and prepare sites to be leased to developers.

• Down payments and closing cost assistance to 62 income-eligible households citywide and in the South St. Petersburg CRA so they can buy a home.

• Advice and funding for 61 homeowners who want to make their single-family homes more energy-efficient and upgrade and refresh their exteriors.

• Fair housing education for 25 persons citywide, providing information and support to low and moderate income persons who need help resolving fair housing violations.

• Homebuyer education and counseling citywide for 100 households, helping renters prepare to become homeowners through learning about budgeting and saving.

Other projects include administration of homeless prevention services through partnerships with organizations such as Catholic Charities and CASA, and tenant-based rental assistance through Boley Centers.

The consolidated plan, a voluminous document with 200 pages, was developed after input from dozens of organizations and individuals. The City Council approved a resolution on June 10 to advertise the draft plan, and a public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 5.

The full draft consolidated plan is here, starting on page 38.

Separately, the city’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee is considering how funding from the American Rescue Plan might be used for housing. St. Petersburg is in line for $45 million from the federal plan, a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The city plans to hold public workshops in July to get community input on how to spend the money.

Among the ideas the advisory committee is debating are:

• Buying land to build affordable housing

• Subsidizing increased costs of development due to Covid-19 (lumber, labor and other materials)

• Direct assistance to renters and homeowners

• Aid to Covid-impacted nonprofits and small businesses to build affordable housing

• Permanent affordable housing for people displaced by Covid-19’s economic effects.

The committee is scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 15 to consider the issue.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Brad Banks

    June 15, 2021at5:03 pm

    Just to be clear, when the article says “the city“ that means the taxpayers. So all of you reading this like me who work 50+ hours a week we’re paying for these peoples homes. Not expressing an opinion just pointing out that it’s deceptive when they keep saying “the city“. Hopefully somewhere within their rules it says these people have to work at least 40 hours a week for X amount of years as well as maintain their property in such a manner that it doesn’t bring down the surrounding property values.

  2. Avatar

    Karen Phinney Kirkpatrick

    June 15, 2021at9:06 pm

    Same old tired, worn-out proposals which only assist a few and these are always “families”. One good point: using the term “affordable” as a blanket term to mean most that are not wealthy has got to stop; $45,000 annually is just sheer lunancy to the huge population of lower wage earners, seniors and disabled citizens struggling in St. Petersburg. Low-income and below the poverty-line incomes facing sky-rocketing rents due to the over-development of luxury condos and apartments are what is leading thousands into homelessness. I am only one, now homeless for 18 months on waiting lists for subsidized housing which are three years long. Does the city actually believe that the citizens of Saint Petersburg are gullible enough to think that 65 homes are going to solve the problem? In reality, it is the City of Saint Petersburg and its City Council and mayor which spearheaded the problem. They are the ones who collectively gave hundreds, if not thousands, of permits to build high-end luxury properties. It is they who should be held accountable to solve the problem they created. Unfortunately, yet fortunately, many of the key characters aka guilty party are on the way out the door. In voting for a new mayor and new city council members it should be imperative we consider what their plans are to turn around the city and make it a city for all, not just the newcomers with deeper pockets flocking here to the shiny, bright “new” travel-destination city many of us have worked and lived in for decades only to now be displaced and pushed out.

  3. Avatar

    felicia middleton

    June 16, 2021at7:33 am

    I keep hearing they are trying to help low income but all I see is a bunch of lots being purchased and expensive homes being built for rich people cause I live on 18th an Quincy I rent every year they keep going up stating the market value in the area is on the rise but im a single low income worker who is paying 1465.00 a month the landlord won’t fix nothing I have mold the house is falling apart but they are still allowed to go up on my rent because they are building nice homes in the area but the land lord has not done no type of upgrades in the home I lived here do long to care for my mom its a shame this is whats going on under the city nose an the allow these slum lords to charge whatever but fix nothing if I can pay that kind of money to live in a dope hole why can’t the bank help me to purchase a home so slum lords like this won’t continue to get rich from us hard working low in come families its so sad what’s is considered as affordable because what I see happening on the south side is we are being pushed out for the people who is moving down here with money thats no help we don’t even make the type of money here in st. Petersburg to pay the type of rent they charge and they wonder why we can’t afford food Healthcare and other important things this is sad if they really cared they would do something and this just doesn’t sound like the answer. Signing off with someone please help me find a decent place thats affordable to live cause this ain’t it!!!!!!!!

  4. Avatar

    Jim Jackson

    June 16, 2021at4:49 pm

    Habitat for Humanity Homes come woith a mortgage just like any other home. Quite a bit of Stimulus Monet (yes taxpayer money) can be used. Rather than do an infill or new home here and there ehy not do a village of 35 homed commercial opportunities would follies.

  5. Avatar

    shannon brim

    June 17, 2021at6:19 am

    My question is why isn’t people like me who are on disability have the opportunity to be first time homeowners we barely make money where we can afford a home Malone rent it would be nice if they would give the opportunity for someone like me to be able to purchase a home with help with limitations it’s not easy for someone on disability to pick to be able to come a homeowner because we cannot have double the income in order to be able to afford to put down on a house pay the rent and also pay closing costs my suggestion is give people like me the chance to be able to do that I pay taxes but it would be nice to be able to live in a home that I can call my own the place I live now is not secure it’s not safe there’s been shootings in the apartment complex the drugs are horrible and I live on St Pete housing and they still do not protect you so yes it would be nice if you give someone the opportunity to have their own home to feel safe

  6. Avatar

    Cindy Sweeney

    June 26, 2021at10:35 pm

    I have read two different articles regarding housing affordability in St.Petersburg/Pinellas county.
    Are Pinellas Penny funds or federal taxes funding the project? What are the income thresholds? Are the people purchasing/renting long term employed residents? Where are the developers/builders home base? Who will be responsible for long term maintenance?

    Real estate is cyclical, living and affordability are not.

  7. Avatar

    CHRISTINE

    June 27, 2021at7:26 pm

    Pinellas County is so far behind on affordable housing its a joke the amount of apartments there talking about in next 5yrs won’t even come close 2 what is really needed and they know this .so for the low wage workers that have been struggling way b4 covid are just going 2 b permanently priced out of the county.this is the second crisis 4 people that were born and grew up in pinellas since the 2008 we the tax payers bailed out the banks in return banks bought the foreclosed homes and jacked up the rents so our children that were just getting out on there own have been set back now 4 second time /covid just exactly how do these politicians and so called leaders of this country think the American dream is at all attainable when college is way 2 expensive and 2 now even think about buying any home and forget about Healthcare and the leaders think that minimum wage is just fine at 7.25 hr what a joke not everyone can afford college and there’s been no such thing nowa days as getting a decent job right out of high school that guarantees 40hrs wk with Healthcare and benefits those jobs have been long gone decades ago this country has gone 2 shit the rich and corporations have got way 2 much power, they don’t even pay as much taxes as a low wage worker and u wonder y there’s so much violence and mass shootings in America this is not the #1country until we the people stop working and stop voting for any democrat and republican if we all stop working and voting what will they do without us the working people ??????

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