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Charlie Gerdes surprised by ‘unfactual’ rhetoric in St. Pete campaigns

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

There’s been a lot of talk in this year’s mayoral and City Council races about how St. Petersburg is not doing enough to create affordable housing.

Charlie Gerdes thinks that’s bunk.

The Councilman who represents St. Pete’s west side of town has been listening to what a few of the candidates have said on the campaign trail; Gerdes was frankly surprised about how “unfactual” some of these discussions have been.

On Thursday, the City Council approved a proposal to fund $1.8 million in 156 affordable housing projects.

“I hear a lot about how we’re not doing enough about affordable housing,” Gerdes told his colleagues after the measure was approved.

The proposal seeks to provide rental assistance to 70 homes; produce 3 new units; rehab 48 existing units, and funding to purchase 35 new units.

“Rehab of existing units – that is, money going to fix up their house to stay in it, which is the opposite of gentrification,” Gerdes noted pointedly.

“I just want to point out that the facts are easily available, the information is there,” he added. “And I would encourage not just candidates, but every citizen can go on to look up this information.”

Pinellas County Commissioners this week approved an ordinance that would put the one percent sales tax known as “Penny for Pinellas” referendum on the November 2017 ballot. The City Council intends to allocate $11 million of that funding next year to affordable housing programs if the measure passes.

With the average new home price in St. Petersburg coming close to $500,000, both perception and the facts show average homebuyers are increasingly being priced out of the local market; that has emerged as a cutting issue in the city in 2017.

Ben Kirby, the spokesman for Mayor Rick Kriseman, later in the day sent out a series of tweets adding more information about what the administration and the city have done on the affordable housing issue.

He wrote that in 2016, the city’s Housing dept. distributed $4.2 million in funds, including $1 million for the development of 151 new multi-family units; That there was $375,000 allocated for purchase assistance for 30 low to moderate income households; That there was $500,000 for emergency repairs for 32 units; and said the city assisted 15 homeowner households and provided rehabilitation help from $425,840 in grants.




bkirby816's avatar

Replying to @MitchEPerry

1. Some #affordablehousing facts: in 2016, Housing Dept. secured $4.2 million in funds, incl. $1 million for dev. of 151 new multi-fam units



Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at

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