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06/21/2022

SPHA Helps Fixed-Income Seniors Keep Apartments

St. Petersburg, FL (June 17, 2022) - When the St. Petersburg Housing Authority (SPHA) learned that the fixed-income seniors living at the Lutheran Residences of South Pasadena were facing a rent hike, the agency immediately reached out to help. To date, SPHA has issued Emergency Housing Vouchers (EHV) to seven households at Lutheran Residences, keeping them safely housed, and also has provided additional funds to the property manager to help offset rental increases for other residents.

Larry Gonzalez, Vice President of Housing Choice Voucher for SPHA, said, "I read about this rent increase in the paper and knew that we could use the EHV program to help some of the seniors stay in their homes. They simply couldn't afford to spend an additional $125 a month on rent, and we couldn't allow them to lose their apartments."

Sheila Walker, one of the residents who received an emergency voucher, said, "There's really no words to explain how much [the EHV program has] changed my life! Now, you've changed how I feel about simply waking up... Thank you St. Pete Housing!

Another resident assisted by SPHA, Ruth Culmer, said, "Knowing that my rent will be paid gives me 'Peace of Mind' to purchase some things that I have needed and less daily stress! I am grateful for the voucher."

For every EHV participant, SPHA also pays up to $2000 as a security deposit for the unit and a $700 bonus to the property. Lutheran Residences of South Pasadena has committed to using these additional funds to lower the costs for other residents at the high-rise apartment complex.

Property Manager Hazel Cross said, "This was a no brainer for me, I am here to help them and be of service to my residents. This is not a job requirement, this is what God requires of us all, to help one another and love your neighbor."

 SPHA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Lundy said, "We are glad that we could help these seniors achieve peace of mind about their housing. As the leading provider of affordable housing in the greater St. Petersburg region, this is our mission and being a community resource is our goal."

As part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is providing housing vouchers to local Public Housing Authorities, including SPHA, through the EHV program, to assist individuals and families who are homeless; at-risk of homelessness; fleeing, or attempting to flee, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking; or were recently homeless or have a high risk of housing instability. To date, SPHA has issued Emergency Housing Vouchers (EHV) to seven households at Lutheran Residences, keeping them safely housed, and also has provided additional funds that help offset rental increases for other residents. "Thank you St. Pete Housing"

For more information about the EHV program, visit https://www.stpeteha.org/ or email EHV8@stpeteha.org.

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