NewsHillsborough County


University Area community facing education, transit and health issues, study says

Posted at 5:26 AM, Jun 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-19 05:43:27-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Residents in Tampa's University Area are facing issues with education, jobs, transportation and access to healthy food, according to a new study.

The University Area Community Development Corporation conducted a study of the neighborhood, interviewing more than 600 people.

Preliminary results show nearly half of those interviewed lived in households making around $15,000 per year. One in five people reported being unemployed and one in three people cited challenges trying to get another job, including a lack of transportation, education and health problems or a disability.

Many people said they were interested in getting certified as a nursing assistant or working in hospitality, but lacked the money or transportation to make that possible.

More than 300 people surveyed said they used public transportation to get to work, school or to run errands. Nearly 500 people said they have a stop within 15 minutes of their home. More than 450 people said they felt safe on public transportation, according to the results.

However, a recent report by Plan Hillsborough reveals transit access in the University Area has several streets with a "failing" grade.

There are also several "severe crash corridors" where residents are at risk for being in a crash, according to Plan Hillsborough.

Affordable housing also remains a big concern for many residents. The UACDC is working on a plan to build several homes that area that will be considered affordable, specifically for families in that neighborhood.

"As I get older, my income just isn't going to be there," said Ada Raffeo, who lives in the area now. "So this would help me get a place and be safe."

Additionally, some people in the survey cited problems getting access to healthy food and cited stress as a recurring problem. The University Area is considered a "food desert" which means residents don't have easy access to a grocery store.

The UACDC recently started a community garden, offering free vegetables to those in the neighborhood as a way to combat the problem.