City restarts affordable housing conversation

Published: Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 09:40 AM.

If at first.

Even though the Paces Foundation failed to secure tax credits last year to fund 72 affordable housing units in North Port St. Joe, representatives Rick Haymond and Ron Thomason came back before the Port St. Joe Commission during Tuesday’s bi-monthly meeting to inform them about a new Florida housing grant that had the potential to fund 50 units.

Haymond and Thomason asked commissioners to allow them apply for those funds on behalf of the city, the deadline for which is approaching on July 1, while ensuring that the specifics of the project could still be worked out in the meantime.

 “It’s a small piece of the overall proposed project,” said Thomason. “We can put in as much affordable housing as the community needs over time.”

Thomason explained that while approving the project for a lower number of units would seem simpler, markets can be dynamic and change and if the city later decided to build more apartments, they’d face additional expenses. As more units were added, the city would incur additional costs for more roads and the extension of sewer and water lines.

County Commissioner Tan Smiley took the podium and expressed the need for affordable housing in the area. He said he had visited many residents who currently struggle to live 2-3 people to a home.

“The mayor is a bulldog to get the lighthouse moved, but I’d like to see some bulldogging on getting these affordable homes,” said Smiley. “Build 150 apartments and I guarantee they’ll be full within a year.”

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