April 4, 2016. WTSP.
1,300 people in Hillsborough County will push for a big change Monday. They want safe and affordable housing options on their side of the bay and they won’t stop fighting until local leaders find a solution.
Monday night at St Lawrence Catholic Church on Himes Avenue in Tampa they’ll meet face-to-face with county leaders to find a solution.
74,000 people struggle to pay their rent or mortgage every day, according to the group HOPE, which stands for Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality. HOPE leaders say that’s absolutely unacceptable and is forcing families to travel long distances for jobs, and move their kids from one school to the next as they transfer to different neighborhoods to afford rent.
The HOPE group is pushing for a local Hillsborough Affordable Housing Trust Fund that could generate millions of dollars.
They say the trust fund would help all of us because it would mean folks who are currently forced to live in Polk, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota and Bradenton Counties with cheaper rent, would no longer need to commute over the bridges and interstates to get to work.
“Of course it clogs the bridges, it clogs the roads every morning. Transportation is a real problem here so all these issues work together,” explained Bob Schneider, a Riverview pastor who heads up the HOPE group.
Leaders are pushing for a similar program to the Penny for Pinellas fund, where one cent of every sale goes towards affordable housing and other improvements to roads and parks.
Currently, 14,000 low income people are on a waiting list at the Tampa Housing Authority.
And get this: They’ve been told they may not have a spot in public housing for five years.
Affordable housing isn’t the only issue this group is pushing for. On Friday, Tampa Police started giving out civil citations for people busted with a small amount of marijuana. That change only applies to people 18 and up. The HOPE group will ask leaders to have the same change apply to young teens. Right now, 1,000 young teens are arrested every year in Hillsborough County for pot and are given a misdemeanor that stays on their record for years.
Tonight’s face to face meeting between HOPE and county leaders is at 7:00PM at St Lawrence Catholic Church.