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St. Pete receives $2.55 million in housing aid

Mark Parker



Reallocated Emergency Rental Assistance funding could go towards affordable housing projects stalled due to construction cost increases, like the Fairfield Avenue Apartments (pictured). Rendering courtesy of HP Capital Group.

The U.S. Department of Treasury is reallocating Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funding to local governments that successfully distributed previously-awarded money during last year’s program.

As such, federal officials have sent an additional $2.55 million each to the City of St. Petersburg and Hillsborough County. Pinellas County received about $2.4 million.

The American Rescue Plan Act established the pandemic-era program, and the latest funding round stems from money previously earmarked for other areas. The Treasury Department recently reallocated $690 million to 89 state and local grantees.

While initially restricted to providing rental assistance, Amy Foster, community and neighborhood affairs administrator, said local governments can now utilize the money for other related initiatives.

“The money will be used for building new affordable housing units to get at the root cause of folks who need rental assistance – because market units are overpriced,” Foster said. “We have a number of properties in development that may need funding due to rising construction costs that may be able to benefit from assistance with these dollars.”

Amy Foster, neighborhood and community affairs administrator. File photo.

In 2021, the Treasury Department awarded $21 million for rental assistance to Pinellas County and $8 million to St. Petersburg. Foster said city officials applied for “considerably more” of the reallocated money than they received.

She also called the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allocation formulas used to determine who receives the funding – and how much – “very complicated.” A Jan. 24 press release stated “grantees receiving reallocated funds announced today have demonstrated particular success in deploying resources and have demonstrated a clear need for additional funding.”

According to the release, “studies have shown that distribution of ERA funds has gone to low-income and/or traditionally underserved renters of color.”

An abundance of St. Petersburg residents applied for the ERA program last year and exhausted its funding in about a month. Pinellas officials then agreed to share their remaining allocation with the county’s largest municipality.

Foster explained that city administrators previously utilized a county contract for the program’s platform and staffing. Those resources are no longer available, and she said city administrators would have to issue a request for proposals to select a new vendor if they used the latest money for rental assistance.

“It could take up to a year to establish a process for dollars that, based on previous experience, would be expended in a few month’s time,” Foster added. “We felt that addressing the root cause of the issue was the most sustainable way to use these one-time funds.”

Local officials are still working out distribution details, and she said they would establish programming through 2023. However, she noted the money would not leave city coffers until developers complete the units.

A graphic highlighting affordable housing delays due to soaring costs. Screengrab.

County commissioners often partner with the city on affordable projects, and Administrator Barry Burton relayed how construct costs have recently doubled during a December 2022 work session.

At the time, county documents showed that St. Petersburg was home to three of five developments delayed due to additional funding requests. One is in Lealman, and the other is in Seminole.

Together, developers asked for an additional $5.2 million in subsidies. The reallocated ERA funding could help some, like the Fairfield Avenue Apartments and its 264 affordable and workforce units, get off the ground.

In addition, Foster noted a nationwide movement supported by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and other organizations to create a permanent ERA program is gaining traction. She said rental assistance and homeless prevention dollars are always needed, and city administrators would welcome federal resources for those programs.

“Everyone deserves a safe and affordable home to rest their head at every night,” Foster said. “Any way we can produce additional affordable units to provide homes for our firefighters, teachers and hospitality workers, we welcome.”



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  1. Avatar

    Carl Hebinck

    February 14, 2023at10:45 am

    “Everyone deserves a safe and affordable home to rest their head at every night,” Foster said. “Any way we can produce additional affordable units to provide homes for our firefighters, teachers and hospitality workers, we welcome.”

    Words of Amy Foster Feb 13, 2023

    We heartily agree. Would you look at an Innovative proposal which claims to provide Affordable housing, at half the cost, in half the time and with half the GHG’s? We can do this as a nonprofit, building ADU’s with no land cost in So. St. Pete as a partner with the City in this project. This can be done providing “affordable” housing as well as Workforce housing.

  2. Avatar


    February 14, 2023at12:25 pm

    fReE mOnEY!

  3. Avatar


    February 15, 2023at2:08 am

    If it’s for housing to help low income but I’m being terminated from housing because I can not find a affordable place to live and housing was funded more money to help low income people Really

  4. Avatar

    Shirley Hayes

    February 16, 2023at1:23 pm

    What about abandoned buildings to renovate? What about boarded up homes to purchase and remodel to sell to qualified families? Purchase abandoned properties for unpaid taxes and prepare them for purchase? People are paying $2,000 a month to rent ‘boxes’ called apartments. Please let’s look for other resources. Thank you for your efforts thus far.

  5. Avatar


    February 18, 2023at10:11 am

    Seems to me that you already have policies and processes in place to distribute rental assistance to needy families. Why are you unable to use the previous software to quickly get the program up and running. The need is NOW.

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