By Jordan Bowen, Fox 13

Housing advocates took a major loss Thursday night at the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners budget meeting when commissioners vote 4-to-3 to allocate $2 million to affordable housing.

This is the first time in five years the county won’t dedicate at least $10 million to affordable housing.

In Hillsborough County many renters are desperate for relief and worry without it may mean being on the streets.

“We need hundreds of millions of affordable housing. I think we ought to be debating increasing it not decreasing it,” one citizen said during public comment.

Since 2019, Hillsborough County has dedicated at least $10 million of their budget to affordable housing and put it into a special fund known as the HOPE fund, named in honor of the non-profit HOPE Hillsborough which pressured the county to allocate funds to housing.

At the county’s first budget meeting earlier this month two county commissioners pushed back on the commitment suggesting the funds should instead be re-allocated to jails and infrastructure.

“We are all for the infrastructure and for roads and other places, but if we don’t have a place for our people to live, the workers to live than nothing is going to happen,” HOPE Affordable Housing Monitoring Committee Chair Shelia Simmons-Tribble said.

According to HOPE Hillsborough, more than 96,000 county residents are considered rent burdened which means they pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent. It’s why the organization says the county needs more affordable housing like these apartments going up at the corner of South Manhattan Avenue and W Bay Vista Avenue in Tampa.

The county contributed $2.5 million of their HOPE funds to help build them which will be able to house up to 100 families.

“Housing is not merely a roof over someone’s head. It’s the foundation on which a child’s future is built. As stewards of our society it is our duty to recognize that profound impact that stable and suitable housing has on the well-being and development of our children,” one citizen said during public comment.

To date, the HOPE fund has spent more than $46 million dollar on affordable housing building apartments for seniors, struggling families and unhoused veterans.

View the original story here.