In recent days, there has been a great deal of confusion over who owns Jordan Park Apartments and what is being done to help the low-income residents who live there. As Chief Executive Officer of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority (SPHA), I would like an opportunity to address community concerns and to provide the facts.
SPHA’s mission is to provide a variety of safe, sanitary, accessible, decent, and affordable housing to eligible citizens of the city of St. Petersburg, and we take this mission very seriously.
In 2001, SPHA was the first housing authority in the state of Florida to receive low income housing tax credits and one of the first in the nation to receive a HOPE VI redevelopment grant. This $27 million grant agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), private developers, investors, and other partners made possible the renovation of Jordan Park Apartments, the city’s oldest public housing property, into the 24 acre development with 237 units in 104 buildings that exists today.
Under the HOPE VI grant agreement, a plan was put in place to renovate the original barracks-style units, which were built in 1941 and were in a state of disrepair, into larger family-style apartments. However, in order to secure the tax credits necessary to finance the much-needed reconstruction, the ownership at the development had to change from SPHA to a private developer. Construction was completed in 2002.
Unlike most subsidized housing developments, the units at Jordan Park Apartments operate as both 100 percent public housing and 100 percent tax credits. Jordan Park Development Partners, a private developer comprised of the Richman Group of Florida, Inc. and Landex of Jacksonville, Inc., owns and operates the buildings. As the owner, Jordan Park Development Partners is responsible for all property management and maintenance, for compliance with HUD regulations for public housing, and for compliance with tax credit codes for the tax credits. The owner also contracts with a private management company, WinnResidential, as the on-site property manager.
SPHA owns the land the buildings sit on, which is leased back to Jordan Park Development Partners. SPHA is responsible for providing the federal subsidy for public housing units to the developer, as a pass through from HUD. SPHA also oversees public housing compliance at the property, making monthly unit inspections and auditing resident files. But, under the regulatory and operating agreement signed in 2001, SPHA has little recourse to force change.
The ownership structure of the development is complex, and it has led to some issues in long-term operations and maintenance. It’s been 15 years since Jordan Park Apartments was renovated, and the property is in need of refurbishment once more. Recently, Jordan Park residents in three of the 104 buildings brought issues with their living conditions to SPHA’s attention. It is very important to us that all residents have a safe and sanitary place to live, with no exception. We are working closely with the property management team at WinnResidential to ensure that these issues are immediately resolved and that a proactive plan is put in place to prevent them from occurring again. We’ve made great progress thus far; the grass is cut, repairs are being made, and pest control inspections are taking place every other day.
But, the best way to ensure that Jordan Park is managed and maintained to our high standards is for SPHA to buy back the development when the tax credit compliance period ends later this year. We currently are in negotiations with the owner to purchase the property, and we are also pursuing the necessary financing measures to complete renovations and modernization. Under our ownership, Jordan Park Apartments will remain affordable housing for low-income residents, but the units will be much improved. SPHA’s commitment is to make the community a better place to live for everyone.
–Tony L. Love, CEO of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority