Scott pitches affordable housing ideas

Published May 18, 2007

TAMPA - In his last years on the Hillsborough County Commission, Tom Scott successfully fought for greater emphasis on affordable housing in the county.

Now as a member of the Tampa City Council, Scott wants to bring some of those concepts to city.

On Thursday, Scott presented the results of an affordable housing task force he helped create at the county, and asked city officials to consider those ideas.

They include establishing an affordable housing trust fund, speeding up the permitting process and waiving impact fees for people building affordable homes, and changing land-use rules to acquire land for affordable homes.

"This is a critical issue for this region and particularly the city of Tampa, " Scott said.

Scott served on the Hillsborough County Commission for 10 years. Term limits forced him out of his district seat in 2006, and he lost his bid for election to a countywide seat in November. He won election to the Tampa City Council in March.

The proposal came at a workshop on affordable housing that brought out representatives of nonprofit organizations who say they face hurdles to building affordable homes.

"There are persistent issues that are disincentives to affordable housing production, " said Betty Wiggins, chief executive of the East Tampa Business and Civic Association.

Among those problems: permitting delays and requirements to work around protected trees and install sidewalks, which add to the cost of a home.

The sidewalks, Wiggins said, add $4, 000 to the bottom line.

Council member Mary Mulhern suggested that the city also look at waiving the sidewalk requirement, which is not mentioned in the task force report presented by Scott.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or 813 226-3401.