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PolitiFact Florida: Bob Buckhorn's new housing initiative moves the needle on the Buck-O-Meter

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn stands in the doorway of a vacant, uninhabitable house on N 16th Street in Sulphur Springs before its demolition last year. This week, the city launched a $1.4 million initiative to build new homes on vacant lots created by several dozen city demolitions. And PolitiFact Florida's Buck-O-Meter took note.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times (2013)

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn stands in the doorway of a vacant, uninhabitable house on N 16th Street in Sulphur Springs before its demolition last year. This week, the city launched a $1.4 million initiative to build new homes on vacant lots created by several dozen city demolitions. And PolitiFact Florida's Buck-O-Meter took note.

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January

One of Bob Buckhorn's boldest promises as a candidate for mayor was to create an affordable housing program modeled on the Mayor's Challenge Fund, the nationally acclaimed initiative that Buckhorn saw up-close in the late 1980s and early '90s as a special assistant to then-Mayor Sandy Freedman.

Buckhorn's promise was, as usual, detailed and specific: Helping first-time home buyers find affordable housing and rehabilitating existing homes would be a "priority" for his administration. He would team up with lenders to help those buyers with "down payment assistance, reduction in origination fees, reduced interest rates, streamlined loan applications and assistance in preparing and packaging the loans." And he would get to work on the promise during his first year in office.

But by early 2013, the midpoint of his four-year term, even Buckhorn acknowledged that the city's housing efforts had not gotten his undivided attention and were not comprehensive, not organized and fractured.

Fast-forward one year: This week, Buckhorn rolled out the second phase of an initiative designed to improve Sulphur Springs by building new, affordable homes — though not for the reasons or in the ways he described in his promise about the Challenge Fund.

The city will spend $1.4 million to build 12 new single-family houses in Sulphur Springs over a 120-day period, with more to follow if all goes as planned. The money for the project comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. As those houses are built and sold, the city will plow the proceeds back into building more houses.

PolitiFact Florida says this moves the needle on the Buck-O-Meter, an accountability project that tracks Buckhorn's follow-through on 34 promises from the 2011 campaign. To see in what direction and how much, click here.

[Last modified: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 5:23pm]

    

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