It’s time to move for Carolyn Ballinger and her family, which is something many people have had to do. The decision to pack up a life for transport is at the very least stressful, but it’s that and more for Carolyn because she’s being forced to move.

What You Need To Know

  • The St. Petersburg City Council has voted to use federal funds to help tenants pay higher rent
  • Carolyn Ballinger, who was forced to move from her apartment of five years, said that only helps with part of the problem
  • She said that just finding “affordable housing” has been impossible because so many other people are looking for it too

“They just said, ‘Your lease is up, we’re not renewing, you got to go,'” she said.

After calling her apartment home for the last five years, she got the notice four days before Christmas that she would have to move. The news is hardest on her 5-year-old granddaughter. 

“(She said), ‘But where are we gonna live Grandma? I wanna live here always,'” Ballinger said. “She didn’t understand. And I said. ‘We’ll find a better place.’”

Unfortunately, she soon found out that was easier said than done. 

“I’ve looked at over 60 places here in Pinellas County,” Ballinger said. “Our income is such that my daughter and I are on disability. All the places that are called that are ‘affordable housing’ have a 5-year closed waiting list, so you can’t even get on the waiting list for it.”

She was among the crowd of renters voicing their frustration in front of St. Petersburg City Hall Thursday night.

Although the St. Petersburg City Council voted to create a plan to use federal funds to help tenants pay higher rent, Ballinger said that solves only half of the problem.

Until she can find an affordable place to rent, her family is moving in with a member of the church in St. Pete. As a pastor, Ballinger is relying on the power of prayer to find a place they can call home again

“We can’t afford $1,800 a month,” she said, “Especially $2,400 if you have a family. They’re wanting us to pay more than what’s the plan people are paying for their mortgages. And they’re wanting us to qualify by being able to pay three times the rent. If we could pay three times the rent then we’d be buying a house.” 

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