Condo complex, nonprofit at odds over homeless housing

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Tension is building near Tropicana Field in downtown St. Pete but it’s not about the Rays.

Owners in a condo complex are upset with a nonprofit that wants to house their homeless clients next door in a brand new, high rise building.

Delmar Terrace will stand 12 stories high and will include 65 units available to low-income individuals and families.

Of the 65 units, 33 of them will be dedicated to housing homeless individuals through the Boley Center.

The Boley Center services individuals with disabilities, primarily those with mental health issues. It provides affordable housing and housing vouchers to those who need them.

The Delmar Terrace project will be the group's first project housing homeless clients alongside low income tenants.

Jack Humburg is the executive vice president of housing for the Boley Center.

“The individuals who are homeless will be living alongside them, and you'll be unable to distinguish them from the other residents,” said Humburg.

The Boley Center already owns and operates a smaller affordable housing building just feet away from where the new high rise will stand.

The smaller complex is called the Marconi House and, according to the condo owners who live next door, has a history of disturbances.

“We've had a lot of violence. We've had a lot of drug violence. We've had not only arrests, we've had SWAT here. There have been deaths in the building,” says Lisa Zweben, the president of the Delmar Villas Homeowners Association. “We do not want to exacerbate the situation by adding another 33 units."

Zweben says her concerns and those of her neighbors are falling on deaf ears. Representatives of the Boley Center say they’re addressing issues caused by their tenants but they can’t be responsible for everything that goes wrong.

“In the last year we did have a couple of tenants who had some difficulties and caused some disturbances down there and we dealt with that,” Humburg said.

Humburg says both the lot size and the housing plan have been approved by the city so construction will continue for now.