By Hannah Dineen, WTSP
Faith leaders in St. Petersburg are calling on city leaders to create more affordable housing — and soon.
On Tuesday evening at St. Petersburg’s Child’s Park Recreation Center, Mayor Ken Welch held his final “City Hall on Tour” of the year. That is where leaders of “Faith and Action for Strength Together” or “FAST” and community members demanded he prioritize low-income families by creating 5,000 units of affordable housing for families making 80% AMI (Area Median Income) or less by the end of his first term.
Avis Lemon has called St. Petersburg home since the 80s but said she now feels as if she and her family are being pushed out.
“Cost of living is too high in St. Petersburg; too high. It’s like they’re saying ‘Get out of here and go look for somewhere else,'” she explained.
Lemon said her kids are struggling to find affordable housing, but don’t want to leave the area to stay close to her.
“To start over at my age? To start over somewhere else? I don’t see it,” Lemon said.
“The money is there,” Kathy Filippelli with FAST said. “When [Mayor Welch] came on his pitch of being mayor he said ‘I want to double what Mayor Kriseman did,’ well double, it was 2,000, so that would be 4,000. And then, he said ‘I could even go past that!’ But he never committed.”
Mayor Welch heard their concerns at tonight’s event but pointed us to the city’s 10-year plan to create 8,000 affordable housing units by 2030.
“I think I’m in line with reality and what we are able to accomplish with the funding that we have, being as innovative as we are,” Mayor Ken Welch said. “They want a more rapid development of housing than that, but it’s just not possible with the resources that we have right now.”
Mayor Welch said he has been working hand-in-hand with FAST for years, and affordable housing remains a key focus of his administration.
To learn more about the city’s housing plan, click here.
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