St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch announced Tuesday several improvements to the city’s homeowner assistance programs.
The changes impact St. Petersburg’s down payment assistance, homeowner rehabilitation, and land acquisition incentive programs.
“Increasing access to affordable and workforce housing is a top priority in my administration,” Welch said. “These changes will allow prospective homebuyers to access additional assistance becoming first-time homeowners and existing homeowners to access needed assistance improving their homes.”
The Down Payment Assistance program, available to first-time buyers, now has a limit of $60,000, up from $40,000. The program will also add full loan forgiveness after 10 years of occupancy to owners with incomes under 80% of the area median income, or AMI. Those above 80% AMI will receive half forgiveness. Previously, those earning below 80% AMI received half forgiveness, while those above had to pay back in full.
Tampa also recently announced changes to its down payment assistance program, offering full forgiveness of up to 140% of AMI.
Current low- to moderate-income homeowners needing repairs can get more help now, too. The city has upped its Homeowner Rehabilitation Assistance program to $60,000 from $45,000. That loan will also be forgivable for owners at or below 80% AMI after 10 years.
The city is also expanding programs to add to the affordable housing inventory. In response to increased land values and difficulty acquiring single-family lots, the city is expanding limits for the South St. Petersburg CRA Developer Incentive Program — Land Acquisition Incentive. The program gives a $10,000 incentive to developers who construct and sell a new home to someone at or below 120% AMI. If the buyer is a renter within the CRA, that now gets bumped up to $15,000. There’s also now an incentive to reimburse for land acquisition costs up to $40,000 if a new single-family home is sold to a buyer at or below 80% AMI.
“The changes will also incentivize developers to build attainable housing for essential employees such as teachers, nurses, firefighters and police officers who might otherwise have difficulty finding affordable housing in today’s market,” Welch said. “This is just one of many ways our administration is prioritizing intentional equity to tackle challenges, and we look forward to continued progress.”
Welch made affordable housing a top priority in his administration. In one of his first official acts, the new Mayor created an Assistant Administrator for Strategic Initiatives. He appointed Neighborhood Affairs Administrator Rob Gerdes to the post. Welch said the office will grow to take on more issues, but said Gerdes will prioritize housing full time to begin.