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Largo loans Catholic Charities $120,000 for affordable housing

City commissioners approved a $120,000 loan Tuesday night to Catholic Charities Housing Inc. to build a duplex for low-income families in Largo's Highland Park neighborhood.

While a relatively small sum, the money comes at a time when more families are searching for affordable housing, and public funding to provide affordable options is dwindling, city housing manager Matthew Anderson said.

The nonprofit Catholic Charities currently helps 23 families in Largo who are classified either homeless or very low income. It approached the city about possible grant money last year.

The money was given to Largo from the county's housing trust fund two years ago and had not been spent. While in past years the county has given Largo housing grants of up to $600,000, Anderson said, none has been available in the past two years.

He said that by loaning the money to the charity with no interest, the city will be able to provide a service to Largo residents without straining the city's four housing division staff members.

The loan to Catholic Charities was approved on the same night that commissioners weighed in on the city's community development action plan for 2010-11. The plan lays out the city's projected housing services spending, which largely comes from county and federal grants.

The plan shows the city aims to spend about $588,000 to provide services like eviction protection and homeowner education programs.

Commissioners unanimously agreed to allow the plan to move forward.

"I want to say how proud I am that Largo is supporting … Catholic Charities and the Coalition for the Homeless," Commissioner Harriet Crozier said.

She complimented Anderson on his department's ability to still help nonprofits and low-income residents when other cities are being forced to cut back.

"You mentioned Clearwater. You mentioned St. Pete," Crozier told Anderson. "I'm proud to say we're doing a little more than they do."

Largo loans Catholic Charities $120,000 for affordable housing 06/01/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 9:05pm]
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