Press Conference Date and Time: Thursday, February 18th at 10 am via Zoom Press
Contact: Rev. Lee Hall-Perkins and Flo Young, 813-679-2745.
Pinellas County Commissioners diverts affordable housing funds for essential workers to upper income families The lack of affordable housing in Pinellas County is at a crisis level. According to the Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing at the University of Florida, over 70,000 families in Pinellas county pay make 80% of the Area Median Income ($56,250 for a family of four) or less and pay more than half their income toward rent. These families are one missed paycheck away from homelessness. These families include many essential workers, such a grocery store workers, CNAs, teachers, firefighters and others who are working full time but can’t afford the cost of rent. – “My son works full time at a restaurant, but he can’t afford his own place. He’s been living with us for quite some time despite desperately searching to find an apartment of his own he can afford” Kitty Rawson says” In 2017, before the Penny for Pinellas tax went up for a renewal vote, a majority of county commissioners committed to 300 people at a community event that 4.15% of the penny for Pinellas tax would be spent on affordable housing. Understanding that this would happen, the voters of Pinellas county overwhelmingly voted to approve another 10 year cycle of this tax. Two years later, the county commission put this commitment in writing in the form of resolution 19-6. With this resolution, the County Commissioners promised to prioritize households making 80% AMI or below. However, on January 12th of 2021, the Board of County Commissioners broke these promises. They spent $9 million of taxpayer money that was set aside for housing for essential workers on families making up to 120% of the area median income ($84,000 for a family of four). “Some of the Commissioners said there’s a great need for housing for families of four making $84,000, that they’re struggling too,” said Rev. Lee Hall-Perkins, pastor of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Clearwater. “I don’t doubt that some of those families could use the help. But if they think a family making over $80,000 is struggling to make ends meet, how much more are families making $50,000 struggling? $40,000? There are working families on the brink of homelessness, and for our county to steal the funds set aside for them to spend it on high-earning families in the midst of a global pandemic is unconscionable and unfaithful to their commitment.” On February 18th at 10 am, community members are holding a press conference on Zoom to show the need of affordable housing for essential workers in Pinellas County. Essential workers struggling to pay for their housing will share their experiences and call for the County to stop stealing affordable housing funds to use on upper income housing.