The Tampa Housing Authority Board of Commissioners voted unanimously this week to give its CEO and president a 7% pay raise.
The raise, approved at the agency’s monthly board meeting on Wednesday, was the first merit increase Jerome Ryans has received in two years. It came after board members gave him above average marks as part of an annual evaluation.
Ryans was making $256,591 before the pay raise. He received a 3% cost-of-living adjustment in November 2021 but no merit-based raise.
“Executive compensation is always difficult, and we are in what I would consider a highly competitive marketplace for talent,” said Commissioner Ben Dachepalli at the meeting. “Jerome, I think with what you’ve done with this particular housing authority, (it) can be viewed as a model across the country.”
Board members determined that Ryans deserved a merit increase of 3.5%. They then multiplied that by the two years that Ryans had not received a merit-based pay raise.
After this reasoning was laid out, the group quickly voted unanimously to approve the motion.
“From the time that I’ve been on the board, this is the most organized and focused the evaluation has been,” Commissioner Demetra Salter Liggins said.
The housing authority serves a variety of functions, including developing and maintaining public housing, distributing Section 8 vouchers that provide rental assistance for low-income residents and facilitating the creation of affordable homes through public-private partnerships.
The organization’s importance has grown in recent years, as a development boom and rapidly rising rents have created a severe shortage of affordable housing in Tampa. In 2021, Tampa Bay experienced the highest rent spike of any metropolitan area in the nation, according to a recent analysis, with a year-over-year increase of 24%. More than 50 percent of Florida residents are having difficulty paying basic living expenses, like rent, food and transportation, according to the United Way.
Under Ryans’ leadership, the housing authority has recently overseen development of the majority-affordable West River housing development, which opened its first 371 units in October. It has also announced plans to redevelop the Scrub, a historically Black neighborhood in downtown Tampa.
At the same time, the organization has been criticized for failing to adequately respond to what many have called a housing “crisis.” Detractors also have pointed out poor conditions at facilities like Robles Park, which is set to be demolished and redeveloped.