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Congress approves housing grant

With the help of Rep. C.W. Bill Young, a Tampa housing complex should get some overdue repairs.

By WAYNE WASHINGTON

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 21, 2000


TAMPA -- The Tampa Housing Authority had already struck out twice.

The authority had compiled detailed data on the deteriorating condition of Riverview Terrace and Tom Dyer Homes with the hope of getting a big grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fix up the places.

Twice, HUD said no.

But the complexes north of downtown might see some improvements after all.

U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Largo, squeezed out just under $1.2-million for improvements at Tom Dyer, a 76-unit senior citizen complex. The money was a last-minute add-on to a labor, health and education bill passed by Congress and expected to be signed by President Clinton today.

The housing authority is now setting its sights on getting an additional $1.4-million from HUD.

It's not the $30-million grant the housing authority has sought, but Jerome Ryans, THA's executive director, said he's glad to have it.

"It's a great Christmas present for the residents," Ryans said.

If HUD decides not to give the housing authority additional money, Ryans said the authority will use the $1.2-million to spruce up Tom Dyer and use some of its own money to repaint and put new doors on the apartments at Riverview Terrace.

If HUD gives the authority more money, Ryans said a more extensive renovation can be undertaken at Tom Dyer. It is not known when the work will begin.

Getting the $1.2-million is testimony to the determination of the housing authority's lawyers and the political clout of Young, who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Richard Salem, senior partner at the law firm Salem, Saxon and Nielsen, which represents the housing authority, asked for Young's help after the authority was rebuffed by HUD.

A bill to fund the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education departments, 16 inches thick, was working its way through Young's committee.

"As we were drafting the bill, I was able to make some changes," Young said. "I doubt that I could have done that as a regular member of the committee."

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