City of St. Pete unveils housing assistance program improvements

The updated policies to the housing assistance programs will help people buy homes, repair them, and increase affordable housing stock.

ST. PETERSBURG — The City of St. Petersburg is making significant changes to its Down Payment Assistance, Homeowner Rehabilitation Assistance, and South St. Petersburg CRA Developer Incentive Program – Land Acquisition Incentive programs.

These changes aim to make the programs more attainable and effective for residents and developers.

The city is increasing the amount of down payment assistance available to first-time homebuyers in the city. Currently, first-time homebuyers can access between $5,000 and $40,000 in down payment assistance, depending on household income and whether their purchasing home is located within the South St. Pete CRA. Buyers earning at or below 80 percent of annual median income are currently required to pay back half the assistance, while those making above 80 percent AMI must repay the whole amount.

“Increasing access to affordable and workforce housing is a top priority in my administration,” said Mayor Ken Welch. “These changes will allow prospective home buyers to access additional assistance becoming first-time homeowners and existing homeowners to access needed assistance improving their homes.”

To respond to rising housing costs, the city is increasing the maximum amount of available assistance to $60,000 and allowing full forgiveness on the assistance for those earning at or below 80 percent AMI after 10 years of continued occupancy in the home. Those earning above 80 percent AMI would receive half-forgiveness on the assistance after 10 years of continuous occupancy.

The city’s current Homeowner Rehabilitation Assistance program currently provides up to $45,000 to households in the extremely low-income to moderate-income range. The program requires up to 50 percent reimbursement for that assistance over 15 years. The city is increasing the maximum assistance from $60,000 and will provide full forgiveness for households earning at or below 80 percent AMI after 10 years of continued occupancy.

Changes are also being made to the South St. Petersburg CRA Developer Incentive Program – Land Acquisition Incentive. Due to increases in land values and the difficulty of acquiring single-family lots to construct new, affordable single-family homes, the city is expanding its assistance for developers who will build affordable single-family homes within the South St. Petersburg CRA.

A current incentive offers a direct $10,000 incentive for a developer who constructs and sells a new home in the area to a buyer at or below 120 percent AMI. The city is adding to its incentives a reimbursement for up to half the land acquisition cost up to $40,000 if the developer sells the new single-family home to a buyer at or below 80 percent AMI.

The city is also increasing its standard incentive from $10,000 to $15,000, with the existing 120 percent AMI threshold still in place if the buyer was already a resident renter within the CRA.

“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,” said Mayor Welch. “This is just one of many ways our administration is prioritizing intentional equity to tackle challenges, and we look forward to continued progress.”

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