Saturday, December 16, 2017
Business

Failed funding puts public housing renovations on hold in Tarpon Springs

TARPON SPRINGS — Rosanna Corbo, 45, has spent the last decade trying to get her life in order. It's hard to focus, though, when you have to slap cockroaches off the toilet just to sit down.

That's what it's like at Mango Circle, a dilapidated public housing complex off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. After a short stint in a homeless shelter two years ago, Corbo took to the duplex with an injured rotator cuff that kept her out of work, her two youngest children and an unfinished high school education.

"What do I do?" Corbo said. "I can't move anywhere, so I'm here right now. Here is where I will stay for a while, until maybe one day I hit the Lotto and then I can move out to a decent neighborhood and a decent place."

Year after year, Corbo and other Mango Circle residents are promised a complete overhaul of the 64-unit development. Residents would get vouchers to move wherever they'd like on the government's dime, even to places not designated as low-income housing.

For many single parents without stable income, a voucher is the only way out of Mango Circle, where they deal with bug infestations, structural damage and rust, among other problems in exchange for 30 percent of their income in rent each month.

"Residents can say whatever they want to say," said Pat Weber, Tarpon Springs Housing Authority executive director. "I don't think the conditions at Mango Circle are optimum, that's for sure. After all, it was built in the '70s. I do think it's safe and sanitary housing."

Weber and Pinnacle Developers, Mango Circle's private partner, have applied for tax credits to rebuild three times in five years. The new development, which would house more families, would be called Eagle Ridge.

Weber estimated a complete renovation would cost between $15 million and $20 million.

"You can't really demolish and rebuild Mango Circle without getting tax credits," Weber said.

Of the three recent attempts to get funding from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, the first two were unsuccessful. It was the third that gave residents hope.

Mango Circle tentatively received $1.6 million in December But by March, other developers had challenged the Mango Circle application. That's a routine practice, said Florida Housing Finance spokeswoman Cecka Rose Green.

Amid litigation, the Mango Circle developers withdrew their own application.

Tarpon Springs has fared better with other projects. In 2011, the housing authority opened Oak Ridge Estates — 62 townhouses and apartments. On July 7, the city got funding for a new 95-unit elderly complex to be called Villages at Tarpon.

Mango Circle has no such luck.

"I think that right now the people that are in there have adapted to what's there, with the hopes that it's going to change at some point in time," Mayor David Archie said.

That's the mind-set of Dora Atkins, a single mother who lives with her son, Kevin Klimczak, 15. Her older kids moved out, unwilling to tolerate the conditions. After four years, the roaches don't faze Atkins.

Posters and photos adorn the walls, but they don't hide the bedroom ceiling hole she's had for two years.

"We made it our home," Atkins said.

Across the complex, the roof completely caved in on Mary Holmes, 38, and her kids. The fix took two days.

Like so many others in Mango Circle, moving elsewhere without a voucher just isn't an option for Holmes and her family. So they keep waiting.

Contact Julie Kliegman at [email protected] or (727) 445-4159. Follow @jmkliegman.

Comments
Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

TAMPA — For the half of the year that Harry Nichols lives in Oldsmar, he plays 18 holes several times a month at Rocky Point Golf Course. On a good day, Nichols said he shoots close to par on the Dana Shores course. And if he’s really lucky, it’ll on...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

When Brenda Terry was 16 and living in St. Louis, she was a hostess and food runner at a sports bar where female employees wore cute, little cheerleading skirts. One night, she said, a patron grabbed her crotch. She ran to her management team and the...
Published: 12/15/17
Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Shrieks of laughter echoed off the walls of the hospital as Thunder the mini pig flopped onto his side and the children huddled around him, scratching his pink, hairy belly. He and his wet-nosed partner, Bolt, drew patients in wheelchairs and bandage...
Published: 12/15/17
Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

LARGO — Eight months after paying $10.15 million for the office building that houses IT services company Vology, a New York company is suing the Pinellas County Property Appraiser and Florida Department of Revenue contending its $5.5 million tax asse...
Published: 12/15/17
Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

In 2010, Florida was in the throes of an unprecedented housing crisis. One in every eight homes was in some stage of foreclosure. Today, the foreclosure rate is one in every 83. Because of that enormous drop, Florida’s Hardest Hit Fund will s...
Published: 12/15/17
Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

By ELAINE KURTENBACHTOKYO — Global inequality has stabilized at high levels in recent years, a report said Friday, despite gains among the poor in China and much milder disparities in incomes and wealth in Western Europe. The World Inequality Report ...
Published: 12/15/17
How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

Associated Press NEW YORK — After years of tremors, the earthquake that had long been predicted finally shook Hollywood. Disney’s deal to purchase most of 21st Century Fox ends the era of the "Big Six" major movie studios, toppling one ...
Published: 12/15/17
St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, under construction since 2015, is scheduled to be complete by the summer of 2019.The five-story, 137,100-square-foot building will house businessman and collector Rudy Ciccarello’s...
Published: 12/15/17
Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Today is the day that open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act will close for most people. But those affected by the slew of hurricanes that pummelled Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and other states earlier this year can take advantage of a two-week ...
Published: 12/15/17
Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

A record-breaking number of Americans are expected to travel this holiday season.The American Automobile Association projects that 107.3 million Americans will pack their bags and travel more than 50 miles by planes, trains, automobiles and other mod...
Published: 12/14/17