TAMPA, Fla. - Residents at Tampa Park Apartments have until the start of November to pack up and leave, as the property was recently sold to developer Darryl Shaw. But Hillsborough County Commissioners have long had concerns over the fate of these renters.
“They just don’t know what to do,” said Chairman Les Miller. “They can’t pay their rents and now they have to leave.”
Hillsborough County commissioners voted Wednesday to approve $646,816 in funding to provide the remaining 164 families with three months of renters assistance.
Cheryl Howell with the county’s affordable housing services said though most of its residents are working, the average income is extremely low.
“The income range is from $15,600 for the very low income, up to $29,400. But the average is $20,000,” she said.
Howell said the issue stems from gentrification.
“They lose their ability to be able to stay in that community or access affordable housing in that community,” Howell said. “Tenants are currently paying $600-$800 a month.”
The motion to approve the use of HOPE funds to carry the relocation project passed 6 to 1. The only ‘no’ vote was from Commissioner Stacy White. White said he only had one concern.
“I strongly agree with Commissioner Miller with respect to the sentiment behind this,” White said. “I definitely empathize with the people who are in this situation, but as a matter of principle, it was really the city of Tampa that needs to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.”
This is something Commissioner Sandra Murman echoed, though she still voted yes.
“We are always coming in to save the day, with what the city can’t provide,” Murman said. “My first question was, ‘Well, where was the city?’ And you know, we all know where the city is.“
Howell said the countywide funds are paid for by the county and city.
The amount each family receives will be determined based on family size, and the units they’re living in.
The county funds won’t be the only assistance residents will be seeing. In the last two weeks, developer Darryl Shaw, Tampa’s BluePearl Pet Hospital co-founder, said he plans to front about $800,000 in relocation costs for moving residents.
But according to Howell, those who have outstanding fees with the landlord won’t be able to access them. And because many residents work in the service industry and have been out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic, they may have outstanding bills.
The funds they’ll see from the county, Chairman Miller says, will be guaranteed.