Inside CHAF’s new affordable housing units in South St. Pete

A  home with a cottage-like front porch surrounded by green vegetation grasps the attention of drivers and pedestrians in a South St. Pete neighborhood – but it’s not a single home, it’s two residential units and it’s the latest affordable housing project to open its doors. 

The 1,700-square-foot residential structure is a project the City of St. Petersburg and the Contemporary Housing Alternatives of Florida Inc. (CHAF) organization has worked on to provide affordable housing for low and moderate-income households. 

The CHAF team cut the ceremonial red ribbon to celebrate the completion of the units. 

St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman, the CHAF members, St. Petersburg Area Chamber Of Commerce members, St. Pete City Councilwoman Deborah Figgs-Sanders and others set foot inside the completed residential units Monday morning, admiring the curb appeal and interior finishes. 

St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman and others set foot inside one of the units. 

The main unit (at 1863 13th St. S.) facing the street is a three-bedroom, 1,000-square-foot home. It is decked out with laminate flooring, impact windows and new appliances. It stands out like a new kid on the block in a known poverty-stricken neighborhood.

“It looks like a single-family home, but you go to the back and there’s an entrance to another side,” Kriseman noted, explaining how the residential project is actually two units sharing one roof. “Giving two families on one lot an opportunity and place that’s affordable is life-changing.” 

St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman tours the new units. 

The second unit is 700 square feet and has a completely different address. 

“This is my street, my neighbors…,” Figgs-Sanders said, also echoing Kriseman’s comments on how it appears as if it is one single-family home. 

The entrance to the connected second unit, which has a different address, can be found at the back of the structure.

It cost roughly $240,000 to build the two new units on the single lot. The city made a financial contribution to the project. The construction process started in January and was slightly delayed due to Covid. 

CHAF has four other vacant lots within a few miles from the new units. CHAF purchased the five lots for roughly $25,000 each before the pandemic ignited.   

The housing structure has impact windows throughout, and landscaping. 

“This is the first time in several years that we’ve started to expand, and saw a need for affordable housing in South St. Pete. We were lucky to come across the lots ..,” CHAF Senior Vice President Tracy Mater said. 

The other units have variations in the design and floorplans. 

The monthly rates for the units have not yet been priced, but the limit, said Mater, is around $1,250.

The lot housing the two units. .

The organization also purchased a tiny home from St. Petersburg High School. 

Over nearly three decades, CHAF has grown to both own and manage more than 700 units, and continues to expand into new real estate projects. Its properties span across various phases of development – including rehabilitation and new construction, according to the company’s website. 

Its St. Pete properties include 31st Street Landings, Ashley Place Apartments, Magnolia Court, Northside Villas and others. 

CHAF members said there is a waiting list of 45 people interested in occupying the new units as they come online. 

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