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St. Pete Housing Authority receives grant to upgrade homes

Mark Parker

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The Gateway Place Apartments, one of six public housing developments owned and operated by the St. Petersburg Housing Authority, will likely receive interior upgrades with federal grant funding. Photo: Google.

Low-income families finding refuge in the St. Petersburg Housing Authority’s 134 public housing units will soon see some home improvements, thanks to a $842,360 federal grant.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently awarded $3.17 billion in Public Housing Repair funding to 2,756 agencies nationwide. While the money is primarily for capital improvements, awardees can also use it to develop, finance and modernize units.

The St. Petersburg Housing Authority (SPHA) will utilize the funding to upgrade its properties. President Michael Lundy said the grant underscores the organization’s commitment to provide affordable homes and improve the quality of life for the “least among us.”

“We pride ourselves on being good stewards of the funding we receive,” Lundy told the Catalyst. “We will be very methodical with how we move forward with the expenditure of the funds.”

Michael Lundy, president of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority.

Founded in 1937, the SPHA is one of the nation’s oldest housing authorities. Lundy noted that HUD consistently recognizes it as a “high-performing” agency.

The SPHA operates three programs that serve about 4,000 low-income households. Those include public housing, affordable housing and housing choice vouchers – Section 8 – initiatives.

Government agencies own and operate public housing and subsidize affordable developments. HUD vouchers go directly to participating landlords on behalf of the recipient.

The SPHA can use the grant funding on its six public housing properties. Those include Clearview Park, Disston Place, Gateway Place, Romayne and Sunset Oak Apartments, and one three-bedroom single-family home.

The organization will first ensure its units meet new National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) standards, which HUD finalized in 2023. Those include myriad health and safety aspects, like working carbon monoxide alarms and mold prevention.

“We want to make sure all of our units are safe for our citizens,” Lundy said. “Then once we get beyond that, we’ll look at some upgrades.”

For example, he said Gateway Place could use some bathroom and kitchen renovations. Lundy noted that SPHA recently concluded a “complete interior overhaul” at Disston Place.

Lundy said the money could offset construction costs for a project like the Hartford. SPHA partnered with Blue Sky Communities to create a 97-unit development for seniors and households earning less than 60% of the area median income (AMI).

“But we’re not looking to use the public housing (grant) funds for that,” Lundy explained. “We just have to be very careful in terms of how we use those funds and what funds we use to help complement new construction.”

A rendering of the Hartford project, an affordable development for seniors and families near the 34th Street North corridor. Image: Blue Sky Communities.

He said the SPHA is applying for tax credits to support the long-planned Hartford project. The organization announced a scaled-down version of the project in November 2021, and Lundy hopes to break ground on the much-expanded version next year.

A project that will transform the former Ed White Hospital into a senior housing development with office space is also inching forward. The expansive facility at 2393 9th Ave. N.  shuttered in 2014 and changed hands twice before the SPHA purchased it in December 2021.

The 71-unit senior development will offer 42 homes for those earning just 30% or below of the AMI. Lundy expects to break ground in August.

“We’re very excited,” he added. “We are looking to maybe do another senior building in the near future. Probably in the next couple of years, we’ll be planning to do new construction on a property we currently own.”

 

 

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    leellette d rutherford

    May 24, 2024at3:14 pm

    My rental cost me 989.00 I have to work part-time just to live. I’m at chaf properties and they are the worst.they don’t care about anyone. Their suppose to help. I have Cancer. I’ve been living here for 11 years and was told they have senior housing but now with their change of employees said they don’t have this now.

  2. Avatar

    Steve D

    May 19, 2024at7:16 am

    Government should not be in the business of owning and managing housing, amongst many things that government insists on doing, but doesn’t do very well.

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