Oct 23, 2023 - News

How St. Petersburg is helping residents facing evictions

Illustration of an eviction notice getting crumpled up.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

St. Petersburg officials have funded another program to help residents facing evictions.

Driving the news: St. Petersburg City Council members in September voted 6-2 to pay $300,000 to the pro-bono Community Law Program to carry out the Eviction Prevention and Probate Assistance Program, which began this month, according to Bay News 9.

  • The assistance initiative provides free legal aid for certain residents facing evictions and those handling a dead relative's property in probate court, St. Pete Catalyst reported.

Why it matters: Evictions locally have continued to exceed pre-pandemic levels as rising housing prices and inflation pinch residents and families. An eviction proceeding is also preserved in court records and credit reports, which can make it harder to find housing in the future.

Details: The prevention and assistance program will be available only to residents in the city's 7.4-square-mile South St. Petersburg community redevelopment area (CRA).

  • The funding came from a pool of money reserved for the district, which covers neighborhoods including Childs Park, Highland Oaks and Lake Maggiore Shores.

Zoom in: The majority of the money, about two-thirds, will go toward helping residents stay in the homes of their deceased relatives via probate court, Council member Brandi Gabbard said, according to the Catalyst.

  • The remainder will provide folks facing evictions with legal advice and help them negotiate payment plans or relocation agreements.
  • Lawyers will also help residents write and file court documents, represent them in court and help keep evictions off their credit reports.
  • A quarter of the 821 evictions over a recent five-month period originated in the CRA, the Catalyst reported with 90% being due to nonpayment. The average amount due was $3,159.

Flashback: The program comes in addition to two community support specialists employed by the city to connect tenants facing evictions to legal and housing resources, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

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