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Activists call for increased housing funding in Tampa's 2023 budget

The nearly $1.9 billion budget allocates $5.5 million for the city's new rental assistance program. The Tampa Bay CAC is asking for millions more to be added.

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa City Council held a public hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 6, to discuss the city's 2023 fiscal year budget

Ahead of the meeting, activists with the Tampa Bay Community Action Committee called a press conference to share the demands they're making of the city.

"The city's housing crisis has been one of the biggest issues in the city for about a year," Organizer David Jones said. "There's a growing housing-insecure population, but the city refuses to make a real change so we're out here demanding it." 

The Tampa Bay Community Action Committee is asking the city to contribute more money to the city's new rental assistance program. Currently, $5.5 million of the $1.9 billion budget is going towards the program.

Jones is working two jobs and lives with five roommates. He applied for rental assistance and never heard back.

"The program blew through the money [when it was launched] in about the week and the city had to shut the website down," Jones said. "It just goes to show how needed the funding is."

The group suggests money should be redirected from the city's police budget and be put towards housing programs. 

In a video outlining the 2023 proposed budget, Mayor Jane Castor said housing was a top priority. 

"A budget is the ultimate reflection of the city's values and priorities," Castor said. There is no greater priority for this administration or this council than housing."

Castor also addresses the continued funding for the city's new rental assistance program.

"Last year, for the first time in history, the city designated general fund money toward housing affordability and stability for our Tampa residents," she said. "We propose doing it again next year with $5.5 million in general fund money and $20 million overall in housing-related services."

To watch Mayor Jane Castor discuss the city's budget, click here.

Despite the unprecedented housing funds, the Tampa Bay Community Action Committee says it's not enough. Several members addressed the city council in the public hearing Tuesday evening. 

"$5 million is kind of a slap in the face when everyone's rent is going up and when I see more and more people who are homeless every day," Taylor Cook said. "I don't think we need more money for the police. What about us? What about the ones who make the city run?"

To see the city's proposed 2023 budget, click here.

There is a second public hearing on Sept. 20, when the budget will be finalized. The 2023 fiscal year budget takes effect on Oct. 1.

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