I made it clear when I was appointed to Tampa City Council that affordable housing would be my greatest passion, and it’s been my top priority in office. The city doesn’t work without its workers, and any future growth without them in mind is both reckless and doomed to fail.

Our backyard ADU, which my husband uses as his studio.

Tampa’s future hinges on our ability to provide shelter for its workers; we can provide safe, affordable housing that allows us to rethink the city’s infrastructure, reducing the amount of cars on the road and the amount of time cars spend on our highways. By searching through city and CRA budgets, I have nearly doubled our funding for affordable housing — and I don’t intend to stop there.

Tampa has suffered a “more is more” mentality in regards to our spending on this issue, and it’s time we got creative. We have over $20 million in CRA funds to use for housing, but that doesn’t mean that we constantly have to build new units; we are inundated with existing units that can be fixed up using prorated provisions, allowing recipients to pay portions back if they sell, even before their contracts have been fulfilled. This type of investment helps rein in gentrification and keep Tampeños in their neighborhoods long term.

We’ve seen how neighborhoods like Seminole Heights have thrived as a result of form-based codes that promote development while maintaining the historic character of the neighborhood, and all of Tampa would benefit from this approach. Our city has to be able to step into the future with its people and its cultural identity intact.

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