Just south of downtown St. Petersburg, at 850 5th Ave. S., a 50-unit mixed-use development called Innovare will offer housing for people who earn less than 60 percent of the area’s median income. Of those, a dozen homes reserved for residents whose incomes dip “very low,” according to the City of St. Petersburg’s website.
The $17 million project is the result of a partnership between the City of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County, including support from the Penny for Pinellas Affordable Housing Program.
It’s part of the $23.4 million promised for the eight new developments by the Pinellas County Commission in 2020. Once completed, that means 884 units for low-income renters.
Though the St. Petersburg development has a long way to go, shovels broke ground on Nov. 5 as part of the official beginning of the project. Imam Askia Muhammad Aquil chair on the board of directors for the Collective Empowerment Group of Tampa Bay Area, Inc. says the development is greatly needed.
“Affordable housing has been a crisis for decades; it’s well known,” Aquil said at the groundbreaking event. “So the fact that all these partners were able to come together … this tremendous partnership is what it takes to get this job done.”
The faith-based Volunteers of America of Florida will build the structure itself.
“The development is going to hopefully change the lives of over 50 persons in our area that are the most vulnerable,” said Janet Stringfellow, Volunteers of America of Florida President and CEO.
According to the City of St. Petersburg, the city’s median income – in 2021 – averages $72,700.
However, a lot could change by the time Innovare is ready for renters.
“The County’s [Pinellas] long-term goal is to build a coalition of municipalities, agencies, developers and other local leaders committed to a common vision for addressing one of the biggest challenges facing the community today,” reads the city website.
The “biggest challenge?”
You guessed it. Affordable housing.