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Stimulus money boosts renovations at Tampa Bay area public housing complexes

TAMPA — Public housing agencies in the Tampa Bay area are getting a huge boost to their budgets from the federal economic stimulus package.

More than $14.5 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has begun to flow to the area. The Tampa Housing Authority is getting the most, with $10.5 million allocated for upgrades such as landscaping, paint, floors, doors, windows and roofs.

The Pinellas, Clearwater and St. Petersburg housing agencies are getting about $1.3 million each.

Housing officials say the money is a huge help after years of federal budget cuts.

The THA has seen a 50 percent reduction in federal funding for capital improvements in the past six years, said Leroy Moore, chief operating officer. In recent years, its capital improvement budget hovered around $6.5 million.

Stimulus funding will allow the agency to more than double that spending this year.

The money will fast-track projects that are part of a five-year work plan.

"We would not have been able to get around to this for another two years or so," Moore said. "We did not have the resources."

In Tampa, stimulus money will be used to make upgrades at 15 properties over the next two years and create more than 35 jobs.

At least 30 percent of those jobs will be filled by public housing residents, Moore said.

Work has already begun on $3.2 million in improvements at the J.L. Young Apartments, a 450-unit, 40-year-old complex that serves senior citizens. The work includes renovating all the units and installing new elevators.

Plans also call for using $2.2 million to build a 69-unit complex, and $1 million is headed to the troubled North Boulevard homes for landscaping, painting and roof repair.

The Pinellas County Housing Authority has so far awarded two contracts for new windows, doors, painting and other work at Lakeside Terrace and French Villas.

The St. Petersburg Housing Authority started replacing the roof at Clearview Park this week. The complex will also get new hot water heaters, reclaimed water and a resurfaced parking lot. Upgrades are also slated for the Romayne Apartments, Gateway Place and Jordan Park.

"All of these projects are currently on our capital improvements plans," said agency spokeswoman Audra Butler. "This funding does double the capital funding amount we would typically receive in a year. For us, that's the real impact."

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

Stimulus money boosts renovations at Tampa Bay area public housing complexes 08/30/09 [Last modified: Sunday, August 30, 2009 8:50pm]
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