TAMPA — City Council members on Thursday questioned details of Mayor Pam Iorio's plans for spending $13.6-million in federal money available to help cities deal with the glut of abandoned, foreclosed homes.
At issue is Iorio's proposal to use $7-million to buy 40 homes, tear them down and build new ones in their place.
Council member John Dingfelder said the money might go further if used to rehab homes instead.
Iorio held a news conference last week to unveil the program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
She proposed using the money to buy 110 abandoned foreclosed homes, mostly in Sulphur Springs. Forty of those would be renovated and sold, another 40 would be torn down, and 30 would be made available for rent.
"The plan we've put together is very sound and workable," Iorio said.
Focusing on rehabilitating homes wouldn't necessarily make the money go further, she said.
"It depends on how much we have to pay for those houses," she said.
The tear-downs are less expensive than the fixer-uppers, she said, and in some cases, it will help Sulphur Springs to get rid of dilapidated buildings.
"That's what this is all about. It's a neighborhood stabilization program," she said. "The community will be so much better off if they are torn down, and that's what we intend to do."
The council approved the plan Thursday so the city could meet the Dec. 1 deadline for getting it to HUD. But it will take a closer look at the details at a workshop early next year.
"I want us to be able to continue to put our noses under this tent," Dingfelder said.
After the meeting, Cyndy Miller, the city's director of growth management and development services, said fewer than 40 houses might be targeted for demolition.
"That's an estimate," she said. "We still have to look at exactly what properties we are going to acquire."
Janet Zink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3401.