ST. PETERSBURG, FL — A $500 per month rental assistance plan for city employees required to live within St. Pete city limits is moving forward to the city council to consider at its July meeting.
St. Petersburg City Council members reviewed the $1.4 million employee-assisted housing program Friday. James Corbett, the neighborhood affairs administrator, presented the plan to the committee for the first time in April.
It’s hard for about 80 percent of city employees to make rent and have money left over, Corbett said at the city meeting. The average apartment rent in St. Petersburg is $1,500 a month, he said.
If the city council approves the plan in July, employees could receive up to $500 extra monthly in their paycheck.
Employees in required city-residency positions making less than $48,000 annually would be eligible to apply. The average pay for employees in these positions is $36,702.
Corbett said that 246 of the jobs that require the worker to be a St. Pete resident have a maximum salary of $47,923. Some of the positions that require city residency include maintenance worker, concessions aide and mail clerk.
Each worker will need to provide their household income on the applications. Corbett said an employee who makes less than $48,000 a year but has a household income of more than 120 percent of the area median income can’t qualify.
Someone with a city-residency position must have a St. Pete address within the first six months of their employment, per city rules. The initial rent assistance program will be available to approved city employees for two years.
“If all these employees applied and were eligible for this assistance, the maximum funding needed would be $1.47 million for one year,” Corbett said.
City council member Gina Driscoll asked Corbett why he thinks $1.4 million is needed and how he reached that estimate.
Corbett said it was a guess and he doesn’t think the total $1.4 million will be spent on rental assistance. An unknown amount would be left over after the first year.
He said he thinks it’s a safe amount to have for the first year of the program in case unexpected expenses arise.
Corbett predicted that $1 million out of the $1.4 million would be used in the program. He based this prediction on 80 percent of the 246 city-residency employees applying for a rent subsidy.
Based on Corbett’s prediction, if 80 percent of the 246 city-residency workers are approved for rental assistance, the city would pay $98,000 a month to help them make rent. That totals $1.1 million annually.
Corbett said he believes he has found a source to provide the requested $1.4 million funding. He did not name the source in the meeting.
Driscoll said not every applicant could get approval because of the AMI.
Corbett and Driscoll agreed there’s no way of knowing the total cost of the program until its first year has been completed.
If the plan is approved, committee members would like to see it go into effect on Oct. 1.