While St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s term doesn’t end until 2022, he may already be in the business of legacy building. Kriseman stood alongside Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin and four City Council members Wednesday to announce a 10-year plan, titled “For All, From All” to address housing affordability throughout St. Petersburg. The plan would expand existing programs and implement new tools, including a linkage fee and a revised Floor Area Ratio (FAR) Bonus.
The announcement came in a press conference hosted by Green Mills Group, developers of Burlington Post, an 86-unit affordable housing development for senior citizens, and Burlington Place, a 53-unit non-age restricted affordable housing development in the same neighborhood.
Kriseman touted the two developments, saying they are “the type of development we need more of here in St. Petersburg” and “a reminder that affordable doesn’t mean inferior.”
He also acknowledged that the developments are just “a drop in the bucket” in addressing the housing affordability crisis plaguing up-and-coming cities across the nation, including St. Petersburg.
“Today,” Kriseman said, “We are going to re-dedicate ourselves to filling up that bucket.”
Kriseman unveiled a comprehensive plan, which among other initiatives would create and preserve 2,400 multi-family units over the next 10 years. If achieved, the plan, set to begin in 2020, would double the number of multi-family units built over the previous 10 years.
The plan would also support the construction of 300 accessory dwelling units (also known as mother-in-law suites), enable the purchase of 500 single-family homes through down-payment assistance and other homeownership programs, provide 150 single-family lots for the construction of new affordable homes, and help thousands of citizens stay in their homes by helping remedy code violations through city grant programs.
In total, the plan is projected to impact 7,000 households and 19,000 St. Pete residents.
The proposed housing plan will utilize both public and private funding sources for the creation of new housing units. Kriseman proposed dedicating $60 million of City funding over the 10 years from a number of funding sources. These funds would include $10 million of city-owned land and future acquisitions allocated for housing that is affordable, $15 million in Penny for Pinellas funds (which had already been allocated to affordable housing by City Council in 2017), $8.5 million from the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area for projects within the CRA boundaries, $2.5 million from a revised FAR bonus, and a proposed $20 million from a possible linkage fee, an impact fee paid by developers and based on square footage of new market rate construction.
While many of the programs and funding mechanisms are already existing, what is noteworthy is the synthesis of those funds and plans into a 10-year plan and the goal numbers that accompany it, said Neighborhood Affairs Director Rob Gerdes. The goal numbers provide an opportunity for tracking and accountability, said Council member Amy Foster, something she believes is essential to the program’s success.
According to Gerdes, the plan will commit to doubling the number of multi-family units developed in the last 10 years over the next 10. He also pointed to the revised FAR bonus, which over the last decade has brought in just $40,000. With the proposed revisions, the bonus should bring in significantly more funds, $2.5 million over the next 10 decade.
Kriseman and Foster also addressed a larger community conversation to be had about NIMBYism, a common abbreviation for “Not In My Back Yard,” the idea that some neighborhoods and community members object to affordable housing projects near their own homes.
“We have 4,000 children with nowhere to live right here in Pinellas County,” said Foster. “We have nurses, police officers, single moms and teachers who can’t afford to live in our community. So I’m excited to stand beside the mayor as he announces this plan today. I hope that everyone will get behind this. We do need more neighborhoods to support developments like this.”
“We need to have some courageous community conversations about diversity and inclusion, and what that means when it relates to housing,” she added.
“That’s why this plan is called ‘For All, From All,’” Kriseman said. “It really does require the entire community to speak with one voice and say that housing affordability is an issue we recognize, an issue that needs to be addressed, and we’re all in it together.”