City Officials Discuss Affordable Housing Plan 

Gulfport’s Ward 3 Councilmember Paul Ray and St. Petersburg Neighborhood Services Administrator Rob Gerdes met on Friday, April 26 to discuss the details behind potential housing project that the city of St. Petersburg is considering building on 64th Street South, on the border between the two cities. The five-acre property was originally owned by Grace Connection Church, and if the city votes to buy it during the upcoming May 16 council meeting, affordable housing is the plan. “I just want people to be aware that this is happening,” said Ray. “They’re encouraged to come speak at the meeting but they need to be respectful.”

Following a controversial Tuesday, April 23 meeting by the city of St. Petersburg regarding the possible low-income housing that the city may construct at the current site of the Grace Connection Church on 64th Street South, Gulfport’s Ward 3 Councilmember Paul Ray and St. Petersburg Neighborhood Services Administrator Rob Gerdes met to discuss details. 

Turns out, the specifics are hazy at the moment. 

“Until the city votes on this topic, we can’t discuss how many bedrooms and exact rent prices,” Gerdes said. “Truth is, we won’t know until we get a final answer.” 

What We Know 

Currently, it is estimated that at maximum there will be 86 units, 150 vehicles and up to four floors on the property. 

“That is the max. Who’s to say if the city will actually build that many units,” Gerdes said. “If approved, it would take two years before even breaking ground.”

According to Gerdes, the rent will most likely be determined by 30 percent of a tenant’s income. 

By that measure, a household with a $30,000 total income would pay $750 in rent, a $40,000 yearly income would be $1,200 in rent and $50,000 would yield a $1,500 monthly rent payment. 

Whether the apartments will use Section 8 vouchers or even become a seniors-only building is also up for discussion, and the city of St. Petersburg is encouraging ideas from the community. 

“Sometimes when large groups speak out, it gets volatile,” Ray said, referencing the contentious April 23 meeting. “I’ve heard from many people who approve of this idea.” 

Voice Your Opinion

Even Gulfport residents are welcomed to come speak at the Thursday, May 16 St. Petersburg City Council meeting in which the city will vote on whether or not to purchase Grace Connection Church. 

The 3 p.m. meeting will be held at the St. Petersburg City Hall, 175 5th St. N., and residents will be heard before a final decision is made. 

“I would say concerns will be expressed by property owners, but we can go more into detail at this meeting” Gerdes said. “As property owners start to understand the type of housing this will be, I feel as if their concerns will be relinquished.” 

 

One comment

  1. I’m all for affordable housing, does anyone but me think this project would create a low-income neighborhood? Seems a little bit like red lining and I thought we were past that. Considering governments’ reputation for going over budget, wouldn’t it be at least as efficient for St. Pete to just buy houses and condos that already exist throughout the St. Pete and designate them as “low income?” Consider St. Pete’s reputation with “low income” housing in the past. Certainly would seem a lot more humane to folks that are poor. From the details I’ve heard so far, it’s just another step toward gentrification of our community

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