Clearwater hoping to attract new affordable housing complex

80 apt. units could be coming to Woodlawn
Posted at 6:39 PM, Oct 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-18 18:39:38-04

It can seem nearly impossible to find a safe, decent place to live in Tampa Bay that you can actually afford.
That's the motivation behind a new affordable housing development in Clearwater.
"I didn't think you could have a job and be homeless," said William Doston.

But that's Doston's reality.  He's been working with a roofing company eight months and hasn't been able to scrape together enough cash for an apartment's security deposit.

"When you're living on the streets, you can't afford to save money because you have to live day to day," Doston said.

The city of Clearwater knows it's a real challenge for many people in the community.  That's why it's working with a local developer, pledging $75,000 to help build low-income housing on Woodlawn Street.

Even a small, mediocre house in the Woodlawn neighborhood can easily rent for over $1,000.  So by transforming  vacant land into new apartments, many are hoping housing will be more affordable and attainable. 

"Our hope is that these renters, the families who move in here, may one day be homeowners in this community. So having them be a part of this community, raise their children here, and having them participate in activities, I think will be really wonderful," said Denise Sanderson, Clearwater economic development housing director.

Hattie Howard and her husband just moved their church's congregation to Woodlawn, and they're optimistic new housing will only further their efforts to brighten this part of Clearwater.

"We can make this a better community, no matter what people might think," said Howard of New Zion Missionary Baptist Church Woodlawn.

The developer wants to put 80 apartments on the property, which has been on the market more than 10 years.  Renters would have to make between 40 and 60 percent of the area's median income.  If the project gets all the needed state and federal approvals, construction could begin next year.

"I think this will really make a difference," said neighbor Larry Drain.