St. Pete increases down payment assistance to $60,000 for new buyers

The city of St. Petersburg says help is on the way for people struggling to find a place to live.

The city increased the amount of available down payment assistance to $60,000 for first time home buyers, depending on how much money the household makes.

There’s also more money for people who rehab their home, in addition to more money for developers who build and rent homes to households at or below 80% of the area medium income.

Those interested can explore eligibility and apply at

Aaron Dietrich is in charge of the St. Pete Tenants Union and calls the initiative a start, but says it does nothing for renters who are seeing upwards of a 25% hike in their rent if they were to renew their leases.

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"These policies are encouraging but... we are in an emergency," he explained. "The incentive program, I don’t think responds directly to the kind of hardship and despair people are facing in a housing crisis."

The tenant's union, which has planned mass protests and even a tent city outside city hall, has been pushing city council for a rent freeze.

Mayor Ken Welch was not available for an interview Tuesday, but Joshua Johnson, his housing development director says rental assistance is something they’re working on.

"We are looking at finding a tool to assist renters, conventional renters that are actually out there working and able to pay but don’t earn enough," Johnson said.

City council will address how the housing crisis is impacting renters during Thursday’s meeting.