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Pinellas County Commission approves resolution for rental assistance

WTSP-TV Tampa-St. Petersburg 3/8/2022 Shannon Clowe (WTSP)

Pinellas County commissioners met on Tuesday afternoon to vote on expanding and modifying the Pinellas County Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program. Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the resolution. 

The resolution did two things. It allows funds to be used countywide and allows dollars to be used for those in motels and hotels. 

The ERA funding serves to prevent homelessness due to the pandemic.

The county and city both received millions of dollars to help people who are unable to pay their rent and utilities due to the pandemic.

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Pinellas County got around $45 million in ERA funding and the city of St. Pete received around $14 million. St. Pete has no more money left. County officials said as of Tuesday, they have $18 million dollars left.

City officials can now utilize some of that $18 million dollars to assist people living in the city who need help.

As for those living in hotels and motels, the assistance will only be up to 120 days under the resolution. Officials said this is their way of providing assistance, but ensuring a person will find a home that's more long-term. To receive money for a hotel or motel assistance, you must meet an income requirement. 

Organizers with the St. Petersburg Tenants Union spoke during the meeting. They told 10 Tampa Bay they are happy with the commission's approval. 

"We’ve been pushing this for months because we’ve been hearing about this problem for months, Karla Correa said. She is an organizer with the St. Petersburg Tenants Union. "It took a lot of emails to the county commission it took a lot of pressure. There’s already been a lot of damage. A lot of people are already homeless because they weren’t able to access those funds."

The St. Petersburg Tenants Union says they will continue their work on rent control. Union members will meet with Mayor Ken Welch on Friday to get more answers.

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