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Corey Givens Jr. pushing for affordable housing in South St. Pete

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A lack of affordable housing has become one of the key issues in this summer’s St. Petersburg municipal elections, particularly in the economically challenged area of Midtown.

City Council hopeful Corey Givens Jr. wants to address the issue by creating a local fund dedicated specifically to preserving and developing affordable housing in South St. Petersburg.

Givens is one of the eight candidates running for District 6, which encompasses downtown St. Pete, Old Southeast and parts of Midtown.

“What I’ve consistently heard from my neighbors in District 6 is that we need more workforce housing,” Givens said in a statement Tuesday. “Rent payments guzzle almost half of our income and leave us with barely enough money to cover utilities, food and other necessities. The average cost of a home in this area is $175,000, but you have to earn a gross salary of at least $42,000 to be able to afford that.”

Givens’ plan would be to establish a fund that he contends would generate $200 million over 15 years to create or preserve 7,000 permanent affordable homes for at-risk residents and low-to moderate income families. The money would be generated through a one-time fee on all residential and commercial development, with the fees varying according to overall square footage.

“When it comes to rebuilding and revitalizing our neighborhoods, we have to begin thinking outside of the box,” he says. “There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to dealing with complex issues like creating quality and sustainable housing for all.”

Givens Jr. is one of eight men and women competing to survive the August 29 primary election in four weeks and advance to the November election.

The other candidates in the race include Justin Bean, Jim Jackson, Akile Cainion, James Scott, Gina Driscoll, Maria Scruggs and Robert Blackmon.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at [email protected]

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