Affordable housing complex opens in Clearwater

By Sara Belsole, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 11, 2017, 5:19 PM EST

Erika Esche is thrilled to have her new apartment in Clearwater.

  • Clearwater community caters to low income families
  • Provides families with convenient, attractive living options
  • Complex was built by the county and Affordable Housing Land Assembly Fund

"I say my apartment is amazing and I love it,” Esche said.

Esche, her husband and two kids live in the brand-new Garden Trail Apartments on Seminole Street in Clearwater. They have a large three-bedroom apartment, a playground and a splash pad.

So you may be surprised to hear the complex is part of an affordable housing program.

All 76 units are reserved for residents who earn 60 percent of the area’s median income or below.

"This is a very pricey area and the places that are affordable aren’t conducive to family living,” Esche said. “This place is a blessing.”

Depending on a family’s income, a two-bedroom apartment can lease for as low as about $500.

“This first class housing for families who could never afford this,” Peter Leash, Senior Vice President for the East Coast Division of Southport Financial Services, said.

Pinellas County bought the land for the project for about $1 million through the Affordable Housing Land Assembly Fund. The City of Clearwater kicked in $350,000 and additional support came from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.

Garden Trail is the largest-scale affordable housing project the City of Clearwater has seen in recent years.

“This is the first major step for changing the neighborhood for the better,” Leash said.

Residents could begin leasing the apartments in November. Currently all of the units have been rented.