St. Pete mayor promises plan to increase affordable housing options

Construction cranes continue to go up throughout the city of St. Petersburg, and so does the rent.

City leaders say there is an affordable housing crisis. The mayor says he plans to fix it, but the details of how aren’t yet clear.

Michelle Early is a teacher in St. Pete. After she feeds her family, being able to afford a place to live in this city is difficult.

“Being a teacher and having a family, even with my family, I’m married and it’s still difficult,” Early explained.

Housing that is affordable in St. Pete is scarce and the city has taken notice.

Mayor Rick Kriseman announced the development of a 10-year plan to help the working-class - police officers, nurses, retail workers, single-income families, and teachers – be able to afford to live in the city where they work.

“This meant hope to me,” Early said.

Kriseman said the plan is to build 2400 multifamily units throughout the city, which would affect about 7,000 households. He also wants to make housing more affordable by increasing the supply of market-rate units through zoning – although it is too early to say where.

“You’ll notice we don’t talk about affordable housing. We talk about housing that’s affordable. There’s a lot of perceptions that aren’t accurate,” Kriseman said during a news conference.

The city has fought the perception of ‘not in my back yard’ before and knows it will likely happen in the future.

A church recently backed out of its plan to sell the property to the city for affordable housing after the neighborhood revolted, and some even threatened violence.

Kriseman said his new plan would be paid for by taxes that already exist, but the city is looking at the possibility of imposing a fee on new developments.