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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Affordable housing supply increasing in Tarpon Springs




By Demorris A. Lee, Times Staff Writer

TARPON SPRINGS — A new apartment development that will bring more affordable housing to northern Pinellas County is near completion.

Oak Ridge Estates will have 62 one-, two- and three-bedroom townhouses and apartments.

"In general, there is a lot of need throughout the county, but especially in north county," said Anthony Jones, the county's director of community development. "Naturally, more units will be helpful, and it's an improvement for the community itself as well."

The complex is being built by the Housing Authority of Tarpon Springs. Most of the $11.5 million project was funded through the Florida Housing Finance Corp., which administers a low-income housing tax credit program. Pinellas County also chipped in about $800,000.

Oak Ridge Estates has two sections a few blocks apart. The northern section is bordered by Lime and Boyer streets and Grosse Avenue. There are 24 new apartments there. Tenants started moving into the apartments in mid July.

The southern portion is on Morgan Street and replaces several outdated apartment buildings that had 14 units. Those buildings were demolished and they are being replaced with 38 townhouses and apartments. The work on this portion of Oak Ridge Estates will be completed in mid September.

The residents who were displaced by the removal of the 14 units were given Section 8 vouchers, said Pat Weber, the Housing Authority's executive director. Weber said those residents also have the option of moving into one of the new units.

Each apartment has a washer, a dryer, a dishwasher, ceiling fans and tile floors. There is a "tot lot" for children in the northern portion of the complex. At the Morgan Street location to the south, there will be several play areas for children, a picnic area and a computer center.

Weber said the apartments are being rented quickly.

"It's needed housing," Weber said. "We needed more rental housing at an affordable price. The quality of the housing that we are providing is newer and better for the money."

A one-bedroom, one-bath apartment costs $556 a month. A two-bedroom unit with 1½ bathrooms is $665, and a three-bedroom unit with 2½ bathrooms is $757 a month. The rent includes water, sewer, trash collection and pest control services.

A potential renter must have an income 60 percent below the area median income to be eligible for the affordable housing units. Twenty-one of the Oak Ridge units are reserved as public housing. To be eligible for those units, applicants must have incomes 80 percent below the median income. In other words, a single person, to be eligible to live there, may earn no more than $23,760. The income limit for a family of four is $33,900.

Mayor David Archie welcomes the new housing.

"The Housing Authority did a great job as far as quality of housing, and they have provided for families that have that need," Archie said. "I'm pleased with the appearance and the amenities that come along with them."

[Last modified: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 1:22pm]


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