The federal government is sending an additional $6.5 million to the Tampa Bay area for affordable housing units and to aid tenants facing evictions.
The U.S. Department of Treasury announced this week it was allocating almost $2.55 million each to Hillsborough County and to the city of St. Petersburg, and nearly $1.4 million to Pinellas County. The money can be used to assist households with rent and utility payments or to develop affordable housing units..
The money comes from the federal emergency rental assistant program, part of the American Rescue Plan Act. It is a reallocation of money previously earmarked for other locales that may have gone unused.
In total, the Treasury Department reallocated $690 million to 89 communities “with high demonstrated need.” Prior allocations under the federal rental program benefitted low-income residents and “traditionally underserved renters of color,” according to a news release from the Treasury Department.
In 2021, the federal government awarded $21 million to Pinellas County and $8 million to St. Petersburg for rental assistance. The city will use the new allocation to build affordable housing, said city spokesperson Erica Riggins.
Likewise, the federal government previously sent $32 million to Hillsborough County and $12 million to the city of Tampa. The county administered the program for both local governments and this week the Treasury Department emphasized the county’s prior efforts to connect tenants and landlords to the aid.
That outreach included promotions in local news outlets, on social media, and at town hall meetings, and launching a campaign with a local retailer to have rental help information printed on the back of customer receipts. The county also partnered with nonprofit agencies to go door-to-door in areas with high eviction rates and held webinars for landlords to learn about the program.
The earlier program was expected to help as many as 10,000 families. With the aid announced this week, Hillsborough County estimated it can help 500 families to avoid eviction and interruption of utility services, said Audrey Ziegler, the county’s social services director.
The county is still working on the details of how the new aid will be distributed, a county spokesperson said Friday.