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Turmoil continues at St. Pete housing agency as new board member resigns

Roxanne Amoroso quit the St. Petersburg Housing Authority over concerns it lacks the expertise to handle Jordan Park redevelopment.
Roxanne Amoroso quit as a board member of the troubled St. Petersburg Housing Authority after less than five months.
Roxanne Amoroso quit as a board member of the troubled St. Petersburg Housing Authority after less than five months. [ St. Petersburg Housing Authority ]
Published Dec. 10, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — Just four months after she was appointed, a St. Petersburg Housing Authority board member has quit over concerns about the leadership of the agency.

Roxanne Amoroso, the owner of Mosaic Development, quietly stepped down after the agency terminated an agreement allowing Tampa Housing Authority leader Jerome Ryans to also serve as interim leader of its St. Petersburg counterpart. Hers was the lone “no” vote on the Ryans question.

Amoroso declined to comment on her resignation but said the reasons are clear from the board meeting where she urged her colleagues to continue with Ryans as interim leader. He was appointed after the agency fired Tony Love and in the wake of a scathing review of its operations by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“I’m really opposed to you pulling back; I’m so opposed to you doing this,” Amoroso told her colleagues. “I’m thinking of the health of the St. Pete housing authority.”

Despite her concerns, the board voted to reinstate LaShunda Battle, the agency’s chief operating officer, as the agency’s interim leader.

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Before starting her own housing development firm, Amoroso worked for 19 years in housing development for Bank of America. Her appointment to the housing agency’s board was confirmed by the City Council on July 11.

Among concerns she raised at the last meeting was that another change in leadership could create uncertainty with investors and lenders backing the agency’s redevelopment of Jordan Park, a public housing complex in south St. Petersburg. The project, which includes the demolition of the historic village and construction of a senior village, also relies on tax credits awarded by the Florida Housing Finance Corp.

“It’s a big undertaking; it’s a very complicated undertaking,” Amoroso said. “We desperately need their expertise in assuring that this is advanced in the proper manner.”

Board Chairwoman Stephanie Owens in an interview said the board would miss Amoroso’s experience but said it was unclear why she resigned. She said she would welcome Amoroso continuing to serve the agency on a committee that reviews potential property acquisitions.

“She was a great board member to have,” Owens said. “If she were interested, she could continue to provide her leadership and support.”

Owens said that the Jordan Park project is still on track although the project was recently hit by a four-month delay because a required environmental study was not commissioned.

The agency’s board also recently voted to explore whether the project can be funded through Section 18, a federal program providing funds for the demolition and rebuilding of older public housing. The program could provide an additional $1.5 million in revenue, which would be used for better fixtures inside the new homes, Owens said.

Mayor Rick Kriseman has not named a replacement for Amoroso, said St. Petersburg spokesman Ben Kirby.

Amoroso’s term would have officially ended Nov. 30. She was appointed to replace Anne Sherman-White, one of three board members removed by Kriseman and St. Petersburg City Council in early 2019. Had she not resigned, she would have been approved for a full four-year term.

Kriseman this year replaced five board members after a Tampa Bay Times investigation revealed a lack of oversight of the agency.

The agency also came under scrutiny by the federal government after it used agency funds to sue Kriseman and the city of St. Petersburg for that decision. The board members replaced were staunch allies of Love.


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