Group Title: Affordable housing issues
Title: Affordable housing issues ; vol. 17 no. 3
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 Material Information
Title: Affordable housing issues ; vol. 17 no. 3
Series Title: Affordable housing issues
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing
Publisher: Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: April 2007
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Bibliographic ID: UF00087009
Volume ID: VID00044
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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M.E. Rinker, Sr., School of Building Construction College of Design, Construction & Planning PO Box 115703,
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-5703 TEL: (352) 273-1192 SUNCOM: 622-7697 FAX: (352) 392-4364

Volume XVII, Number 3 April 2007

The Genesis of Belmont Heights Estates

Belmont Heights Estates is a revitalization effort of the Housing Authority of the City of
Tampa (THA) funded through the federal HOPE VI program and other sources, including
substantial private sector investment. It began with the demolition of 1,300 distressed public
housing units at College Hill Homes (College Hill) and Ponce de Leon Courts (Ponce de
Leon) as shown in Figure 1. These former public housing sites exemplified a community
faced with blight and despair. The housing structures themselves were beyond repair,
presented a lead-based paint hazard to children and offered little accessibility for persons
with disabilities. The obsolete site design of these public housing units cut residents off from
the surrounding neighborhood, further exacerbating conditions of poverty and crime. The
following is a success story!

Figure 1. College Hill Homes and Ponce de Leon Courts prior to Demolition

Belmont Heights Estates (BHE) was created by THA
and community partners as part of a new vision to
transform blight and despair into hope and opportunity
in East Tampa. This vision included blending different
income levels harmoniously into a mix of new housing
options for diverse family types. The intention was to
eliminate the boundaries of traditional public housing
and create linkages with the surrounding community,
thereby leading the way to expanded opportunities and
economic prosperity for residents and the East Tampa
community as a whole.
With the goal of gaining community input and
building consensus, THA established a HOPE VI
Community Task Force (formerly known as the
HOPE IV Steering Committee). The Task Force
served in an advisory capacity and assisted with the
development of the HOPE VI Revitalization Plan, the
HOPE VI Community and Supportive Services Work
Plan, and the Belmont Heights Estates Admissions
and Occupancy Policy. The Task Force included
representatives of 29 different organizations and
agencies, providing a broad cross-section of the local

The Belmont Heights Estates development trans-
formed two distressed public housing properties
built between 1941 and 1952 into an award-winning
community. (See Figure 2) To date, the Belmont
Heights Estates Community has won awards from the
National Association of Housing and Redevelopment
Officials, American Association of Architects, Ameri-
can Association of Public Administrators Suncoast
Chapter, Hillsborough County City-County Planning
Commission, and Florida Association of Housing and
Redevelopment Officials.

Figure 1. Belmont Heights Estates

Figure 2. Amenities at Belmont Heights Estates

The Belmont Heights Estates development won these
awards by replacing the old military barracks-style
concrete block public housing units with modern new
homes. These homes feature metal frame construc-
tion, UV double-paned sound barrier windows, hardy
board and stucco siding, wall-to-wall carpeting,
computer workstations, new appliances, tile floors,
chemical treatment of grounds and pest control. The
new neighborhood shown in Figure 3 used multiple
designs and colors to allow it to blend with the sur-
rounding community (unlike the previous single-
color, barracks-style public housing, which is easily
identified in any inner-city neighborhood as public
housing). It also preserved existing trees where pos-
sible, enhancing the appeal and safety of private and
public spaces.

THA enlisted the services of the University Part-
nership for Community & Economic Development
(University Partnership), which includes the Shim-
berg Center for Affordable Housing, in an effort to
objectively measure the economic impact of Belmont
Heights Estates and assess residents' experiences
with the new development. The University Partner-
ship was also asked to assess the experience of for-
mer residents of College Hill and Ponce de Leon with
their new living arrangements, including those who
returned to the new Belmont Heights development
and those who remained relocated elsewhere.


Figure 3. Streetscape and community park at Belmont Heights Estates

The Housing Authority of the City of Tampa and the
HOPE VI Developer,Michaels Development Com-
pany (MDC), formed a public-private partnership
that led the way in obtaining the financing neces-
sary to construct the new HOPE VI community.
THA provided $20 million in competitively awarded
federal HOPE VI funds, a vacant buildable site,
relocated all public housing families, and demolished
the old public housing community buildings. Mi-
chaels Development Company obtained public and
private funding via a 4% bond from the Hillsborough
County Housing Finance Authority, and a 9% low
income housing tax credit allocation from the State
of Florida Housing Finance Corporation. MDC also
obtained $1.2 million in private-sector funding from
the Bank of America and the Federal Home Loan
Bank. The City of Tampa provided $1.95 million in
Community Development Block Grant funds for the
redevelopment effort.
The results of this study show that Belmont Heights
Estates has had a strong, positive economic and
social impact on its surrounding neighborhood and
has contributed to the resurgence of the East Tampa
community. The results indicate that residents have
increased buying power (as shown by increased fam-
ily incomes) and that property values in the neigh-
borhood surrounding Belmont Heights have sub-
stantially appreciated. More specifically, highlights

* Median household incomes at Belmont Heights
Estates are 78% higher than those at College Hill
and Ponce de Leon.
* Median home sale prices in the neighborhood
surrounding Belmont Height Estates rose by
123% from 1995 to 2003, while prices increased
by 84% in the Tampa Bay Metropolitan Area
during the same period.
* The number of occupational licenses issued in
the Belmont Heights Estates area rose from 12 in
1996 to 199 in 2003, an increase of 1,558%.

In addition to its positive economic impact, the
Belmont Heights Estates HOPE VI development
also generated a number of other important achieve-
ments, including a significant reduction in crime and
increased quality of life. Highlights from this part of
the study include:

* Crime rates for Part 1 crimes (murder, robbery,
aggravated assault, burglary, auto theft, and
larceny) as reported by the City of Tampa Police
Department fell by 48% between 1999 and 2005
in the crime grids (97, 98, 108) that comprise
Belmont Heights Estates (the sites of the former
College Hill and Ponce de Leon) and the sur-
rounding neighborhood. This compares with
a decrease of 30% for the City of Tampa as a
* A large majority (84%) of Belmont Heights
Estates residents rated it as an excellent or good
place to live.
* Children are not exposed to lead-based paint in
the new development.
* Belmont Heights includes accessibility for per-
sons with disabilities.
* Ninety percent (90%) of community leaders
interviewed indicated that Belmont Heights had
an extremely positive or somewhat positive eco-
nomic impact on the area.
* A majority (77%) of community leaders inter-
viewed felt that Belmont Heights had an ex-
tremely beneficial or somewhat beneficial impact
on the economic and living conditions of those
living in Belmont Heights Estates.

In a survey of the former residents of College Hill
and Ponce de Leon, the majority indicated that their
living conditions have improved. More specifically,
one hundred percent (100%) of former College Hill
and Ponce de Leon residents who returned to live at
Belmont Heights Estates indicated that the condition
of their home is better than it was before.

Neighborhood revitalization is a complex process
that depends upon the interplay of a number of fac-
tors over a period of time. The HOPE VI program
was designed to provide a stimulus to neighborhood
change by funding the demolition of distressed public
housing and the subsequent development of new,
mixed-income communities through public-private
partnerships. Some facets of revitalization must rely
on other sources of community support.
The survey of current Belmont Heights Estates
residents indicates that there are some challenges in
stimulating resident participation in employment as-
sistance programs, adult education, computer literacy
training, and other services. Resident willingness to
participate in these programs may grow over time as
they become more familiar with how these programs
can benefit their quality of life.

Neighborhood quality is in a very large part deter-
mined by the quality and condition of its homes,
regardless of whether these homes are houses or
apartments or are rented or owned. By eliminating
distressed public housing and replacing it with new,
high-quality, mixed-income development at Belmont
Heights Estates, the Housing Authority of the City
of Tampa has made a significant contribution to the
revitalization of East Tampa. The Belmont Heights
Estates neighborhood is no longer in a downward
spiral of poverty and rampant crime. Living and eco-
nomic conditions for the neighborhood and beyond
have improved and are still improving. Children
are no longer exposed to lead-based paint poison-
ing, persons with disabilities no longer struggle with
barriers to accessibility, criminals no longer lurk in
the alleys, and neighborhood property values are no
longer depreciating.
The Housing Authority of the City of Tampa and
its partners in community building have shown a
capacity for the hard work involved in revitalization
of distressed public housing. Despite the challenges
offered by the need to continue to extend the posi-
tive impact of the Belmont Heights Estates HOPE VI
development, the prospects ahead look promising.


Lt. .



If you have any questions or comments about the
Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing or the
Florida Housing Data Clearinghouse we' d like to
hear from you. Please contact us by phone at
1-800-259-5705 or (352) 273-1192, or by email
at fhdc-comments@

Other Internet web sites that you can use are:

for the Florida Housing Data Clearinghouse

* for general
information about the Shimberg Center and
it staff.

Affordable Housing ISSUES is prepared bi-monthly by the Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing for the purpose
of discussing contemporary issues facing affordable housing providers. Reproduction of this newsletter is both permitted and
encouraged. Comments or questions regarding the content are welcome and should be addressed to Robert C. Stroh, Director.

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