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New site tracks affordable housing in the city

Veronica Brezina

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From left: Mike Sutton, President and CEO of Habitat; Councilmember Deborah Figgs-Sanders; Mayor Ken Welch; Council Chair Gina Driscoll; Bob Mayer, president of Exact; Alfredo Anthony, board chair of Habitat Immediate Past; and Ernie Dubose, CEO of DuCon Construction at a Shell Dash Townhomes groundbreaking ceremony. Photo by Mark Parker.

Residents can now track resources and affordable housing options through a new site designed to visually capture the city’s progress in combatting the housing crisis. 

The St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership has launched a website that tracks affordable and workforce housing developments and initiatives in the city, which has been an ongoing need as the city’s population is increasing and residents are facing skyrocketing rents. 

“The challenge is compounded by high construction costs, limited land, loss of traditional low-income housing and demographic trends. This website is designed to help policymakers, developers, advocates and investors make smart decisions,” the website page reads. “There is no silver bullet, but there are hundreds of actions that can all help attack the problem from different angles and perspectives.” 

The site states the city’s goal is to impact approximately 7,000 households by the end of the year. 

A pie graph shows to date, it’s completed 1,466 and 1,7711 are “in progress.”

St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership’s data. Screenshot from website.

The site has a search option where users can compare the affordable housing needs based on the AMI (average median income) for each ZIP code within the city. It also features a page with an interactive map showing the projects under construction versus those that are planned. 

For example, the map shows Habitat for Humanity’s affordable townhomes throughout the city, Jordan Park, a 266-unit complex under construction in South St. Pete, and the planned redevelopment of the Edward White Hospital on 9th Avenue N. that will create 70 affordable housing units. 

Additionally, the site lists different steps the city has adopted to better support affordable housing developments: 

Creating an affordable housing site plan review process: The city created the affordable housing site plan review process to implement House Bill 1339, allowing affordable housing projects on land zoned for industrial or residential through a streamlined approval process with one public hearing in October 2021, and further refined to allow mixed-income projects after passing of Senate Bill 962 in 2022. St. Pete utilized the passing of the bill to move forward with the construction of the affordable housing Fairfield Apartments project, which was formerly the site of a lumberyard. 

Increasing down payment assistance: Last year, the city increased down payment assistance limits for this long-standing program from $25,000 to $60,000, in response to rising home costs.

Expediting development process: Late last year, the city council expedited affordable housing development timelines, removing burdensome and time-intensive requirements of developers for public notice and public hearings, and capped the maximum income of renters in these units at 120% of the AMI.

Expanding the Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) allowance: Last year, the city expanded ADU allowance, also known as “mother-in-law suites” or “garage apartments,” to over 70% of all single-family properties. This allows owners throughout the city to convert or build one rental unit on their property. 

Establishing the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee: The committee was officially established in 2020 and is governed by a group of private citizens who review possible new incentive strategies and evaluating the adopted incentive strategies to encourage or facilitate affordable housing. At a minimum, the AHAC must submit a report regarding these incentives every year, among other responsibilities. 

RELATED: Commissioners approve $40.5 million in housing bonds

1 Comment

1 Comment

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    Shirley Hayes

    April 5, 2023at3:23 pm

    Thanks for the Update

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