Housing demolition signals new beginning in Tampa's West River

811 residents relocated
Posted at 2:53 PM, Jun 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-29 19:03:22-04

"I'm ready for it to go. It's time. It's time,” said Latoya Escourse.

1303 Green Street was home for Laytoya Escourse and her four kids for nearly a decade.

"I've seen kids shot. I've seen kids hit by cars and keep it moving. It was a lot,” she said.

North Boulevard Homes has a reputation but the one she shared with me today isn't the one you'd expect.

"When we came here, we left due to my mom being abused so we all lived in Metropolitan Ministries,” explained Escourse.

Escourse was homeless when she and her family moved in.

She got two jobs to lift up her kids living here.

Tonight, she's grateful for the opportunities.

"They went to summer programs here. They got computer classes here. They got tablets here. They got Christmas gifts here. They got so many opportunities here,” she said.

The city relocated 811 people here offering transfers to other public complexes or vouchers to move to private housing. The majority moved within a five mile radius of the complex.

"They're not required to come back but if they chose to come back, they have first right to do that. They'll be the first ones notified when units start leasing up,” said COO Tampa Housing Authority Leroy Moore.

The new mixed-use development along Tampa's West River neighborhood will offer senior housing based on income.

"This will be a better place. This will be a place people are proud to call home,” said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

Average units for seniors cost $350 per month and affordable, mixed use housing for families will depend on income.

There will also be commercial space like a grocery store.

Improvements Escourse wants to see for herself.

"I'll be happy when I come back to something better for my kids, better for us,” she said.