Sunday, December 17, 2017
News Roundup

Options limited for many Mariners Pointe tenants

ST. PETERSBURG — Jayla Bonhomme, a night stocker at Walmart, says the paycheck she earns every two weeks doesn't stretch to cover utilities, child care and the $699 rent for her two-bedroom apartment in a troubled, rundown complex.

She has been forced to make her rent in partial payments, said Bonhomme, 32, who lives at Mariners Pointe, 1175 Pinellas Point Drive S, with her husband, Nelson Joseph, and three children, ages 14, 12 and 3.

"I pay how much I can," she said, adding that she once had two jobs, but when her hours were cut, she couldn't afford day care. Her husband stays home to take care of the 3-year-old, she said.

With March on the horizon and already owing part of February's rent, Bonhomme is in a financial hole. She likely falls into the category of renters at the recently sold apartment complex who will be asked to move when their lease is up.

This month, Mariners Pointe was bought by DWSS St. Pete LLC, which announced plans for a multimillion-dollar renovation and rebranding to attract a more affluent clientele. Current residents behind on their rent by more than 30 days are being asked to move by Friday or face eviction. Others with spotty payment histories will not have their leases renewed.

Bonhomme said she has not received any notification about her situation.

"It's kind of good to rebuild. Most of these apartments have mold and roaches," she said, noting that two of her children have asthma. "I'm happy to move."

But she doesn't know where she'll go when her lease expires in October.

Clifford Smith, the city's manager of veterans, social and homeless services, says he is working with the Going Home Project — Pinellas, an endeavor of the Homeless Leadership Board of Pinellas County, and Mariners Pointe's new management to help residents find homes.

"We're going to make ourselves available for anybody that needs help. I know that it's going to be on a bigger scale than we have ever done before," Smith said, recalling the November ceiling collapse at Lakewood Terrace apartments that displaced 15 families. He said assistance will include contacts for area housing authorities, the Department of Children and Families, affordable rentals, senior housing and agencies that help with rent, deposits, utilities and jobs.

Chris Koback, area manager for Weller Management, hired by Mariners Pointe's new owners to run the property, said the company has been handing out the information.

But the shortage of affordable housing will make it difficult to place everyone, Smith said. "Rentals are tight right now and there's a severe shortage of affordable housing."

Mariners Pointe had accepted Section 8 vouchers, a federal program that helps low-income families, the elderly and disabled rent safe housing in the private market. That changed in December, when the St. Petersburg Housing Authority stopped sending clients there because of the deteriorated conditions. The complex also has been notorious for crime, including several murders.

It's the reason Darlene Godfrey's daughter wants her to move. Godfrey, who works in sales, returned to Mariners Pointe, where she had lived previously, in July.

"I like the apartment. It's quiet now. A lot of the people are gone," she said Monday, returning to her apartment after walking her dog.

George Quay, Weller managing partner, said two letters have been sent to the residents, one about delinquent rent and payment options, and another, about nonrenewal of leases because of habitual late payments.

"The second letter was for those who owed in excess of one month," Quay said. "There were a handful who owed more than $4,000."

Koback said that when Weller Management took over the 368-unit complex on Feb. 13, "upwards of $78,000" was owed in back rent.

Some people have made payments since, but late payments incur penalties. "We don't accept the payment until payment is made in full," Quay said.

He said some residents have agreed to leave the complex — now a little over 50 percent occupied — by Friday and avoid the legal and financial troubles of eviction.

"The rest have said, 'I have no where to go. You're going to have to evict me,'" said Koback, sitting in the apartments' rental offices in a dated room with red and green plaid couches and a damaged ceiling.

Renovations to update the interior and exterior of the complex, which dates to 1972 and recently owned by Texas-based AHF-Bay Fund, are being finalized, Quay said.

Rents for one-bedroom units will run in the $700s, while two-bedroom apartments will cost in the $800s. Three-bedroom units, which include townhouses, will range from the mid $900s to the low $1,000s, Quay said.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.

Comments
Massachusetts rolls 100-foot-long joint; McCain likely to miss tax bill vote; Cherokee Nationís fear of losing heritage drives opioid lawsuit; more in U.S. news

Massachusetts rolls 100-foot-long joint; McCain likely to miss tax bill vote; Cherokee Nationís fear of losing heritage drives opioid lawsuit; more in U.S. news

Massachusetts Rolling a fat one ó 100 feet longMarijuana aficionados have rolled a 100-foot-long joint. The effort was led by Boston-based cannabis club and advocacy group Beantown Greentown during an exhibition of pro-marijuana vendors and supporter...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Trump says he isnít considering firing Mueller

Trump says he isnít considering firing Mueller

WASHINGTON ó President Donald Trump said Sunday that he is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller even as his administration was again forced to grapple with the growing Russia inquiry that has shadowed the White House for much of his ...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Friendly competition

Friendly competition

 
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sudden power outage brings Atlanta airport to a standstill; expected to be restored by midnight

Sudden power outage brings Atlanta airport to a standstill; expected to be restored by midnight

ATLANTA ó A sudden power outage brought the worldís busiest airport to a standstill Sunday, grounding scores of flights in Atlanta just days before the start of the Christmas travel rush. However, authorities said that electricity should be restored ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

More than 300 cruise passengers fall ill with stomach virus

PORT EVERGLADES ó More than 300 passengers on a cruise ship that docked at Port Everglades fell ill with a stomach virus. The Naples Daily News reported that the Royal Caribbean Cruises Limitedís ship Independence docked Saturday in Florida reported ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Birders search for 2 rare whooping cranes in north Florida

Birders search for 2 rare whooping cranes in north Florida

GAINESVILLE ó Two endangered whooping cranes have bird enthusiasts searching all over North Florida for a glimpse of the rare, elusive birds. The Gainesville Sun reported that the Alachua Audubon Society held its Christmas Bird Count on Sunday, and t...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs fans call for Jon Gruden ó why was he fired to begin with?

Bucs fans call for Jon Gruden ó why was he fired to begin with?

TAMPA ó The beers and the "love ya bros" were flowing Saturday night at the Hooters in Tampa. Jon Gruden, who will be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor at halftime of tonightís home game against the Falcons, worked the room, greeting family, frien...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Wesley Chapel woman, 28, dies after crashing motorcycle

LUTZ ó A 28-year-old motorcyclist died Sunday after she crashed near Lutz Lake Fern Road and Apian Way, Hillsborough deputies reported.Erica Kristen Rodriguez of Wesley Chapel was riding a Kawasaki motorcycle with a small group of motorcyclists eastb...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Church bombing kills 9 in Pakistan; Couples wed in 1st Australian same-sex marriages; more in world news

Church bombing kills 9 in Pakistan; Couples wed in 1st Australian same-sex marriages; more in world news

PakistanChurch bombing kills at least 9Two suicide bombers attacked a church packed with worshippers Sunday in the southwest city of Quetta, killing at least nine people and injuring at least 35 others, several critically, officials said. The assault...
Updated: 3 hours ago