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Federal Government Dings St. Petersburg Housing Authority

Saratoga Apartments in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg Housing Authority
Saratoga Apartments in St. Petersburg

The St. Petersburg Housing Authority was recently cited by a federal agency for allowing its chief executive officer to live at an apartment complex designated for low-income families.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sent a violation notice Mar. 25 explaining that Tony Love’s stay at Saratoga Apartments in 2016 was a breach of federal rules.

According to the letter, “Only households earning 80%, or less of Area Median Incomes (AMI) are eligible to reside at this property.” This translates to $33,150 for a single-person household in Pinellas County.

The HUD letter states that Love’s annual income was $140,000 -- 422% over the eligible income threshold.

St. Petersburg City Council member Brandi Gabbardsaid it’s important the housing authority handles the situation the right way.

“We want to make sure that we have people in there who are properly doing his review and are looking at the way the St. Pete Housing Authority is run day in and day out because their ultimate goal is to make sure that that housing authority services the residents,” said Gabbard. 

An initial employment agreement had been made in Dec. 2015 to allow Love to live at the Saratoga Apartments for six months. In August of 2016, after he spent an extra two months there, the board approved a ninth month. Love moved out in Sept. 2016.

On Feb. 28, the housing authority sent $28,700 to the apartment complex to compensate them for Love’s nine-month stay. However, the funds had to have not been given to the authority from the federal government.

The board was given 30 days from Mar. 25 to provide evidence that that is indeed the case.

The notice also challenged the board members to be more vigilant with their oversight and suggested training methods for them to better understand the programs they administer.

“When training is offered, you take it. You’re there to do a service and if you’re giving education and training and tools, it’s your responsibility to take those things on so you can do that job to the best of your ability,” said Gabbard.

Tyler McConnell is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news intern for spring 2019.
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