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More and more people are finding themselves living paycheck to paycheck in the greater Tampa Bay region. In some places, rent has doubled. The cost of everyday goods — like gas and groceries — keeps creeping up. All the while, wages lag behind and the affordable housing crisis looms. Amid cost-of-living increases, WUSF is focused on documenting how people are making ends meet.

Castor’s new Tampa budget includes money for housing services; some say it's a 'slap in the face'

a woman with short blonde hair and in a gray blazer and white shirt stands in front of the city of tampa seal.
City of Tampa
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Tampa Mayor Jane Castor proposed a 2022-2023 budget to the Tampa City Council Thursday.

Mayor Castor's proposal drew scorn from representatives of local groups who attended the meeting and wanted more money put towards housing.

Mayor Jane Castor presented the city’s proposed budget for the next year to the Tampa City Council Thursday, but pushback from local activist groups was quick to follow.

Castor said the City of Tampa has committed more than $100 million to housing-related services over the past three years.

Last year, for the first time, the city designated general fund money toward housing affordability and stability for Tampa residents.

Castor proposes doing that again in the 2022-23 budget, devoting $5.5 million in general fund money and $20 million overall for housing-related services.

Those services include a study of existing housing availability and future needs.

The proposal drew scorn from representatives of local groups who attended the meeting and wanted more money put towards housing.

The Tampa Bay Community Action Committee tweeted: “The people came out to demand more money for housing, not cops or landlords! And to tell city council & @JaneCastor that her $5mil for housing is a slap in the face!”

They also tweeted: “Infuriating budget presentation. The raises going to the police alone could solve much of the housing crisis, immediately. Ppl are being pushed out of their homes for resources go to mechanisms of brutality, oppression and exploitation.”

Some Tampa City Council members also wanted more money to go to housing. They voted 6-1 last week to declare a housing state of emergency and put rent control on an upcoming ballot for voters to rule on.

Castor earlier pledged that the city would provide 10,000 affordable housing units by 2027. Speaking in a pre-recorded message — Castor is currently in Ireland for a Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce benchmarking trip — she said the city is more than halfway there already.

One of the biggest drivers in the nearly $1.9 billion budget is new contracts with the City of Tampa’s three unions, who represent most of the city’s workforce.

Under those agreements, Tampa firefighters, police officers, and city employees will receive a 9.5% salary increase in the first year, and 4.5% increases in years two and three.

“I felt it was important to stand behind the men and women who serve our residents so well,” Castor said.

“To keep us resilient, we need to be able to recruit and retain the talent we have. Like the families we serve every day across Tampa, city employees are also facing higher costs of living. This pay increase is not only well deserved, but necessary.”

Other proposals include:

  • Adding two construction crews to handle routine water pipeline work, rather than rely on private contractors, citing that it would speed construction and save money.
  • Creating transit corridors to connect the Westshore District to downtown and downtown to the university area.
  • Prioritizing issues like urban heat, coastal protection and water security. The city intends to install hundreds of new solar panels and implement new energy savings programs.

The city will continue to retain 22% of the city’s budget in reserves.
The council will take up the budget at a workshop Aug. 16. The public will be able to discuss it at a hearing set for Sept. 6, and the council is scheduled to adopt it Sept. 20, ahead of the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year.

I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.