On Monday evening, Tampa City Council held a special workshop solely focused on Tampa’s 2022 budget, which was presented by Mayor Jane Castor on Aug. 5. During the meeting, the most urgent need cited over and over again by council members was affordable housing.
“Housing is a big crisis,” said council chair Orlando Gudes during the meeting. He said that the city needs to look out for everybody’s needs, especially the underprivileged who often need quality, accessible housing.
Councilman John Dingfelder pointed out that the economy and people’s lives have been deeply impacted by the effects of COVID-19, and that affordable housing is urgently needed in Tampa, especially at a time when renters are currently facing an “avalanche” of evictions when the Center For Disease Control’s eviction moratorium expires.
Dingfelder suggested that one way to put more money into affordable housing in next year’s budget is to use the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds that are slated to go to Tampa’s solid waste department. Currently, $5.5 million of ARPA funds are slated to go to a capital project for a waste transfer station at McKay Bay.
Councilmembers pointed out that a $50 million bond is already going to be used for that project, and said that the solid waste department could for now add the $5.5 million to that bond to be paid off over a number of years. The ARPA funds could then be freed to go to the city’s “Housing and Community Development” budget.
Although council members are not able to make this budgeting decision for 2022, Gudes and Dingfelder pointed out that they’ve worked with the current administration on many issues, and hoped that their request for the budget would be heard.
Currently, Castor’s proposed budget for Housing and Community Development is at $16.1 million. The added funds would increase that funding to $21.6 million.
The Housing and Community Development funds currently calls for:
- Unrestricted Owner Occupied Rehabilitation for recipients earning >80% Average Median Income and/or with home repairs costing >$50,000
- Rental Infill- New fund to activate unused units in existing developments
- Homeless Outreach - To directly support a range of sheltering options for the homeless population
- Build-Ready program – Targeted and strategic property acquisition and/or parcel remediation to reduce the cost of building income-qualifying units
Mayor Castor's proposed budget, which will have hearings in September before it is approved, can be found via tampa.gov/budget.
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