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Tampa Bay area leaders talk about flooding solutions for affordable housing

Bay area leaders talk about flooding solutions for affordable housing
Posted at 10:31 PM, May 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 05:05:38-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Flooding in the Tampa Bay area is only going to get worse. That's the consensus from the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (TBRPC) and climate scientists at several agencies.

A study released by the TBRPC Friday revealed that hundreds of affordable housing units are in the path of those rising waters.

To help brainstorm some solutions for flood protection and recovery, the council and other leaders in the area met. When it comes to existing buildings they agree maintenance is key.

"Elevate utilities is going to be critically important, get those utilities above the base flood elevation so that when and if a flood does occur you still have air conditioning and lights," TBRPC executive director Sean Sullivan said. "Also, to retrofit perhaps your windows to make them more wind resistant."

For future builds, those leaders say developers will need to build with flooding in mind.

"Increasing the height of a structure. Allowing, in your zoning regulations, higher structures," Sullivan said. "Increasing density, allowing more units to be built on smaller parcels."

That said, these are also changes that could lead to extra costs and to help offset costs for developers and residents, the planning council says they're currently exploring private and public funding options.

"I think that there is a lot of resources, some of which maybe we aren't aware of, but there are some great tools that are starting to link developers with those resources as well," council chair Brandi Gabbard said.

Recent studies have also shown minority communities will likely be among the most impacted by rising flood risks.

ABC Action News spoke to the president of the Hillsborough County NAACP about it. She said in addition to making changes to the buildings themselves when it comes to flooding she'd also like to see transparency from developers and leaders—so that minority residents in these affordable units are better prepared for an emergency.

"Let them know, 'Hey your windows are this type of quality, it holds this type of strength. Your roof holds this type of strength.' and have them sign it and do a checklist and walk-through. So that's where the education part comes in," Yvette Lewis said.