Behind the News

St. Petersburg Housing Authority blocks requests to locate evicted Graham-Rogall residents

grahamrogallcomplexYou remember the evicted residents of the Graham-Rogall public housing complex, right?

No? Maybe that’s because the St. Petersburg Housing Authority wants you to forget.

Last year, the SPHA began evicting the (mostly) elderly residents to make way for a developer’s upscale condo project. At the time, SPHA officials said the Graham-Rogall apartments were too expensive to fix and the sale of the building would allow them to build more affordable housing elsewhere in the city.

Turns out, the property is now worth less than the $10 million originally proposed by the developer, KEGB, and the project may never get off the ground.

Nonetheless, the SPHA is moving ahead with relocating the residents of Graham-Rogall. Based on news reports, about 130 remain. Where are the displaced elderly and disabled going? Well, that’s anyone’s guess.

So, the one group who has not forgotten about the Graham-Rogall residents —the Committee to Save Graham-Rogall — filed a public records request for the names and new addresses of the evicted persons. The SPHA gave them an incomplete list months ago and, to date, have not provided them with a full accounting. Now they plan to find a lawyer to enforce the request.

Interestingly, I filed a similar public records request for a public housing complex in Tampa. The Tampa Housing Authority complied. And, actually, I found most relocated residents very happy with their new digs.

So what is the St. Petersburg Housing Authority hiding?