“To deal with the needs of St. Petersburg residents, our local elected officials need to foster a new relationship with our community to address the housing crisis impacting us appropriately,” said Lenisha Gibson.
By Lenisha Gibson, Political Director, Dream Defenders
The “developing” area in downtown St. Petersburg paints a picture of what we can expect for our local future — a powerhouse, progressive city, lined with new high-rise buildings, a booming economy and a community with open arms for newcomers and developers looking to build new housing throughout our city.
But are these “developments” equitable, affordable, and healthy concerning our city growth trends? Do the new high rises, multifamily apartments, and developers seeking partnerships with our local initiatives even take the needs of St. Petersburg natives in mind?
Over the last few years, developers have come into our communities promising to offer housing for the needs of the working people here in the city, and time and time again, our communities have been left feeling cheated and used.
For example, Tropicana Field, where Black families, churches, and businesses were displaced for “redevelopment.” Amends have never been made to the displaced community, and the ripple effect sent waves throughout the city.
We need someone on the city council who understands the importance of intentional investment in our Black community regarding the Trop site. We need solutions, initiatives, and new practices to make sure our community will not be wronged in the future.
Floyd has approached this by ensuring that the “redevelopment of Tropicana Field corrects the injustices of the past and creates wealth for everyone in our city by requiring guarantees on the number of living-wage jobs, and affordable housing options at the site; and penalties for noncompliance,” he said.
Many say, “housing is a right.” I would be more specific by stating quality affordable housing is a right. It’s more than just a roof over someone’s head but the basis of having somewhere that’s safe and healthy to raise families and create a sense of community.
Moreover, to deal with the needs of St. Petersburg residents, our local elected officials need to foster a new relationship with our community to address the housing crisis impacting us appropriately. They need to rebuild trust and offer a unique, refreshing approach to make sure we generate beautiful, sustainable, and especially affordable housing that benefits everyone.
This mandate we elect folks willing to take a new approach to our local housing crisis. This is Richie Floyd running for District 8 City Council.
Floyd is a former engineer and current teacher running on a message addressing this particular issue in an invigorating way. He has expressed the need to make housing consistently affordable for our workforce, not just rich folks, increase investment in land trust, and improve tenant protections.
These are the type of values and approaches to our housing issues in the city we need. If we are developing housing that is not attainable for our people because they are priced out —what does that mean?
We continue a repetitive cycle of having to rebuild community trust in the face of skepticism due to development. We need some courageous, progressive energy on our city council, centering on the importance of trust from our community in developing quality affordable housing in St. Petersburg.
I am sure that with the values and mindset Floyd has for the future of St. Petersburg, we will work together as elected officials and community members to get our people into homes. He is the type of candidate that tilts in that direction toward fair quality affordable housing.
Lenisha Gibson is from Ft. Lauderdale. She is a community organizer and political enthusiast.