Group pushes for more Tampa Bay affordable housing

Affordable housing need has grown 35% in 10 years

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- Monday night, 3,000 people plan to pack Tropicana Field to make their voices heard. The organization, FAST (Faith and Action for Strength Together) is drawing attention to the need for more affordable housing in Pinellas County.

1,600 people are on a waiting list for affordable housing in Pinellas County and the problem is multiplying as rent continues to rise across Tampa Bay. 

Janice Olson is constantly worried. She’s just one lot rent raise away from becoming homeless.

“It really scares me," Olsen explained as she spoke about her rent more than doubling at the Clearwater mobile home park where she parks her trailer.

The retired nurse had a stroke and says her disability money barely pays for her rent at the park.

“I don’t know where I’ll go if they raise the rent," she added.

In Tampa Bay, 70,000 families are just one crisis away from homelessness. Many, like Jose Mercado, end up at the Salvation Army shelter.  

“I’ve been homeless once before but this time around was the longest," Mercado elaborated.

Mercado lost everything after a severe back injury, the end of a 33 year marriage and a struggle with sobriety.

“I’m in the road of recovery and I look forward," Mercado said.

The number of people needing affordable housing in Tampa Bay has shot up 35% over the past 10 years. 

The group FAST plans to pack a meeting Monday night begging Pinellas County commissioners to get more families into homes. They want a portion of the 1% sales tax we all pay when we shop in Pinellas County to go towards building new affordable housing, for a total of $82 million.

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