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Is St. Petersburg meeting its housing goals?

Mark Parker

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A recent housing update provided several notable statistics as St. Petersburg’s leadership works to facilitate 7,800 new units by 2030.

Amy Foster, housing development administrator, began her presentation to city council members at an April 11 committee meeting by noting that Mayor Ken Welch added 1,050 units to the city’s goal last year. St. Petersburg saw a net annual increase of 1,365 residences in 2023, an 8% year-over-year decrease.

However, the number of new duplexes doubled in 2023, and builders completed 16 three or four-unit multi-family developments, a 300% spike. Foster attributed the jump in those categories to new zoning regulations.

“Even with all the crazy market conditions that are happening, wherever we felt like we were doing well, and we could stretch ourselves further, we did,” Foster said. “The good news is that we had many, many years where we were not keeping pace with the growth that was needed, but we excelled in that last year, with a 4,200-unit change.”

Demolitions dropped from 378 to 206 in 2023, a 45.5% decrease. Foster said that was also a welcome change.

According to Apartment List, St. Petersburg’s median rent rose by .1% in March but decreased by 1.4% year-over-year. That is still below the state’s 1.8% average decline.

Foster noted that monthly rents increased by around 30% in 2021 and are “starting to level off.” She also highlighted statistics showing prices in St. Petersburg trail those found in Tampa, Clearwater and Brandon.

A National Low Income Housing Coalition map showed the hourly wage people must earn in various zip codes to afford a “modest” apartment. That ranged from $29.04 an hour in the Heritage Oaks neighborhood, near unincorporated Lealman, to $40.58 in the Gateway area, between the Gandy and Howard Frankland Bridges.

A map highlighting the hourly wage people must earn to afford a “modest” apartment. Screengrab, city documents.

An increasing supply could help lower those numbers. “There are a ton of units in the pipeline; 1,550, to be exact,” Foster said. “And 598 units have been completed. If we combine that, that is 2,148 units and 67% of the goal.

“But again, these are moving targets.”

She explained that city officials eschew proposed projects if they lack confidence in completion. The list includes 115 units from the embattled Tangerine Plaza redevelopment.

The housing department included area median income (AMI) metrics in the 2024 Housing Opportunities for All update. Foster said that was to mitigate a common misunderstanding among residents that the “majority of the units we have in St. Pete are over 80% AMI.”

A family of four in St. Petersburg would earn $69,500 annually at 80% of the AMI. Just 4% of units built last year are above that income level.

However, 63% of “in-progress” units are for those earning between 80% and 120% of the AMI, or up to $104,280 for a family of four. “But nobody should be surprised by that, considering the market shifts we’re seeing,” Foster said.

She said that was due to ever-increasing construction costs. Foster also stressed that the city only subsidizes developments offering units at less than 80% AMI, and the city must increase its workforce housing stock at higher income limits.

City officials hope to provide workforce density bonuses for 350 non-subsidized units. While just 21 are now open, another 265 are in the pipeline.

A graphic showing area median income (AMI) limits for completed and proposed housing units. Screengrab, city documents.

St. Petersburg will soon reach its goal of providing city-owned land for 150 affordable townhomes of single-family houses. Builders have completed 46, with 201 under contract. Foster said a developer returned two lots last year due to construction costs, even at 120% of the AMI.

The city is also ahead of schedule for its accessory dwelling unit (ADU) benchmark. Homeowners added 131 to the housing stock in 2023, and 139 are in the pipeline. However, Foster cautioned that many approved residents could lose their homestead exemptions for renting the detached living spaces.

Councilmember Richie Floyd said the increased tax burden could negate any rental revenue. Foster said housing officials are exploring solutions.

The city has also improved its odds of enabling 500 single-family home purchases. The council recently approved increasing down-payment assistance from $60,000 to $75,000 in the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area (CRA), and Foster believes that will “make a huge difference.”

Nearly 170 residents have received funding, and another 956 have completed required homeowner education classes. “I feel like hope is on the horizon here,” Foster added.

Councilmember Brandi Gabbard agreed and said, “Data matters. And the data is here, and we’re doing the work.”

 

 

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Steve Sullivan

    April 17, 2024at10:08 am

    Velva Lee, if you are referring to the land where the stadium will actually sit that parcel will continue to be owned by Pinellas County government. The Rays will pay the county an annual lease in the amount of one million dollars. The surrounding acreage will be developed by Hines and the Rays and sold off. That’s the part I don’t agree with

  2. Avatar

    Steve

    April 16, 2024at2:05 pm

    Mike, you are correct.

  3. Avatar

    Velva Lee Heraty

    April 15, 2024at8:57 pm

    If the Land Grab of the 33 valuable city acres of the Tropicana Field goes through ALL gains will be lost as St. Pete residents will be taxed an estimated $6,000. PER PERSON to subsidize Hines and his ilk (millionaires) steal the land from the residents. Brandi Gabbard supports this robbery disguised as a “deal” so it’s amazing she has a voice in Amy Foster’s hard-working efforts. (See stats on No Home Run website.)

  4. Avatar

    Steve Sullivan

    April 15, 2024at8:01 pm

    You cannot build your way out of this housing crisis. We need to think critically as a community and be skeptical of supposed innovative companies like Abnb, VRBO and others who conduct social experiments. Their goals are profit over societal gains. Their business model has taken hundreds of thousands of housing units off the market in the US causing a distorted housing market. Politicians quick to give credence to these entities without being informed is another issue. And they continue to listen to housing advocates in conjunction with developers who have a profit making interest. Elect better officials because in the end you will feel the pain. The Biden administration had better get its act together and bring forth some Rico and monopoly charges against the rental software management company that everyone is using and against the big hedge funds buying up whole neigh

  5. Avatar

    Mike

    April 15, 2024at3:00 pm

    Subsidized housing is theft.

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