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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Money for Pinellas Hope not the news some expected



When the Pinellas County Housing Authority decided last month to give $300,000 to the Pinellas Hope tent city for the homeless, board members thought they were doing a good deed. After a rough year where the executive director Darrell Irions left in a spat, it was supposed to be good news.

But some residents of Palm Lake Village apartments found it less than charitable, coming eight months after they learned their rents would go up $15 a month because a sour economy had left "insufficient interest income to offset operating expenses," according to a letter from the PCHA.

The money for Pinellas Hope is supposed to come from the Palm Lake Village Housing Corporation, the wing of the PCHA that oversees Palm Lake Village, an affordable housing complex in Dunedin for seniors, plus Crystal Lake Manor apartments and the Magnolia Gardens assisted living facility, both in Pinellas Park.

But explanations from authority officials haven't always meshed.

Chairman Joe Triolo said the money will come from money the three apartment complexes pooled together, noting the rent increase was Palm Lake Village's first since 2001. 

Board member Cynthia Wilson, a Palm Lake Village resident, said she wasn't sure of the financial arrangements -- "Right now, I don’t know enough about it."  Liane Caruso, the communications officer for the agency, said the first $150,000 would come only from money from the Crystal Lake Manor and Magnolia Gardens, but the remaining $150,000 isn't settled.

"We did look at it very carefully. We did do this for the people in need of help and temporary housing," said Triolo, who spearheaded the contribution to cash-strapped Pinellas Hope, though he noted, "we definitely can revist that and make sure that is clear."

Still, Triolo and Wilson maintained the decision to help Pinellas Hope was a good thing.

"There’s nothing indecent, there’s not anything wrong about it," Wilson said Thursday.

David DeCamp, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:19pm]


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