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Welch increases St. Petersburg housing assistance payments

Access to affordable and workforce housing is a top priority in Mayor Ken Welch’s administration.
 
Mayor Ken Welch makes remarks during the raising of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum flag, to mark the start to Black History Month, at city hall,  Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022 in St. Petersburg.
Mayor Ken Welch makes remarks during the raising of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum flag, to mark the start to Black History Month, at city hall, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022 in St. Petersburg. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
Published Feb. 8, 2022

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Ken Welch on Tuesday announced increases to down payment and home rehabilitation assistance available to homebuyers in the city, particularly for households earning below the average median income.

Welch also announced new incentives for developers to construct affordable single-family homes in southern St. Petersburg.

The city is increasing the maximum amount of down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers in the city from $40,000 to $60,000. The amount available, which starts at $5,000, depends on household income and whether the home is purchased within the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area.

Before, buyers earning at or below 80 percent of the annual median income were required to pay back half the assistance, while those making above that threshold must repay the full assistance. Welch changed those rules so those earning at or below 80 percent of the annual median income of $72,700 will have their assistance fully forgiven after 10 years of continued occupancy in the home. Those who earn above that threshold, which is $59,050 for a family of four, would only have to pay back half their assistance after 10 years of continued occupancy.

Welch is also increasing the Homeowner Rehabilitation Assistance Program’s maximum amount from $45,000 to $60,000 for households in the extremely low-income to moderate-income range. The program provides funding for residents needing repairs to their homes for code compliance, safety or accessibility.

The city will forgive the assistance for households earning at or below 80 percent of the area median income after 10 years of continued occupancy. It previously required 50 percent reimbursement of the money over 15 years.

Incentives for developers to construct affordable single-family homes within the South St. Petersburg redevelopment area have increased from $10,000 to $15,000. The homes must be sold to a buyer who is already a renter within the redevelopment area boundaries who earns at or below 120 percent of the area median income. There is a reimbursement for up to half the land acquisition cost, up to $40,000, if the developer sells the home to a buyer at or below 80 percent of the area median income.

The announcement came in a news release that touted increasing access to affordable and workforce housing, which Welch has touted as a top priority. In a statement, Welch said the changes assist those having difficulty finding affordable housing in a red-hot market.

Related: Tampa Bay’s rent increased by a record 24% in 2021, the highest in nation

“This is just one of many ways our administration is prioritizing intentional equity to tackle challenges, and we look forward to continued progress,” he said.

On Thursday morning, the city’s legal department will give a presentation to a St. Petersburg City Council on the feasibility of declaring a housing state of emergency, which would pave the way for considering rent control.

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