Tampa mayor wants $5 million for rental assistance program

New buildings are booming in downtown Tampa, but tenants, who face 25% increases, are reeling from the stickers and that’s why Tampa Mayor Jane Castor is asking for funding additional for the city’s rental assistance program.

“Capitalism is great,” City Council Speaker Orlando Gudes said. “Everyone wants to make money. But, at what cost to the ordinary people who run the city?”

Tampa officials say they are dealing with the downside of the housing boom.

“Our housing affordability has become critical during this time,” said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. “In fact, it has become a crisis.”

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Castor originally wanted $1 million for a new program to help people pay their rent, but at a press conference on Wednesday she said she wanted $5 million. She said she feared minorities and working-class communities would be driven out of town by high rents.

“Our diversity is one of the biggest factors that defines Tampa as the nation’s greatest city,” Castor said. “The last thing we can afford is to have individuals kicked out of the city limits because they can’t afford to live here.”

The city recently launched the Tenancy and Move-in Assistance Program website for applications with assistance from the city’s tax dollars.

People from a wide variety of income levels are eligible, not just low-income people. For example, a single person with an income of more than $70,000 would be eligible under the program criteria.

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They could receive assistance with moving-in costs such as security deposits, first and last month’s rent requirements, as well as monthly rent assistance.

Castor says the city will seek state and federal funds to help, but for now, Tampa will go it alone. She says she will ask city council on Thursday to approve $5 million to help people pay some of the fastest-rising rents in the country.

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