TAMPA, Fla. -- The University Area is now considered one of the last affordable neighborhoods in the Tampa Bay area, with close proximity to downtown Tampa.
The University Area is home to hundreds of families. Most of them are making less than $15,000 per year. As housing prices in Tampa continue to rise, it’s worrying for residents like Ada Raffeo.
“Out of this community, rents can vary from $1,100 a month and there’s no way people working two jobs can even afford that,” Raffeo said.
The University Area Community Development Corporation is working to keep the University Area affordable for people who already live there.
They are creating affordable housing on several plots of land in the neighborhood.
“Land banking, and not just land banking but building houses,” said Sarah Combs, UACDC CEO. “Multifamily, single family, looking outside of the box to find innovative solutions to attainable housing.”
The idea is to stop developers from coming in and buying the land for cheap and building expensive homes on it.
“Often times you see, especially in Tampa Bay, gentrification happening,” Combs said. “Some people, saying it’s positive because it’s renewal of the community. Well, what they are not talking about is those residents who are getting pushed out.”
The UACDC’s affordable housing plan also keeps existing residents in their neighborhood, Combs said.
“When you push a resident out of the place that they call home, you break those community bonds and those social circles,” Combs said. “Their kids aren’t going to their same schools. They don’t have transportation to the job that was close to where they live.”
The UACDC is also working to make the University Area a safer, more community-oriented place to live. They have helped start a Kaboom Playground for children and a community vegetable garden where people can get free food. They are also constructing a multi-purpose sports field and a pond stocked with tilapia for fishing.
Residents like Raffeo are excited for the possibilities for more affordable housing.
“A lot of us, especially me, as I get older, my income is not there,” she said. “So this would help me get a place and be safe at the same time. Which a lot of places, you’re kind of on your own.”