The East Tampa Community Redevelopment Agency has $2.5 million available to residents who have house damage.By Casey Albritton

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – A new program will soon allow homeowners in East Tampa to get their home repairs paid for.

The East Tampa Community Redevelopment Agency has $2.5 million available to residents who have house damage.

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Ernest Braxton has lived in a neighborhood in East Tampa for years and says “I just want my home. I just want to be in my home. I raised my kids here, I was here since 88, and it was a blessing. I loved this house. It meant so much to me so I wish we could get it back restored.”

It’s the home he spend a majority of his marriage in, until his wife passed away in January of 2021.

“50 years I was with my wife. I’ve known her since she was 13. I really miss her,” said Braxton.

Braxton had to move out of his home about a year and a half ago after a tree fell on his roof.

“It was horrible when I saw it. I was just upset,” said Braxton.

After spending thousands of dollars to get the tree and limbs removed, he says he doesn’t have enough money to pay for the roof of his home to be fixed.

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“Their social security only goes so far, so they can’t keep up with the housing need,” said Orlando Gudes, Tampa City Council Chairman.

That’s why the East Tampa Community Redevelopment Agency is starting a new program in March, that will put aside $2.5 million to help fix homes that are damaged.

“So they can have a safe place to live and they wont be forced out,” said Gudes.

Residents within the East Tampa CRA boundaries will be able to apply for up to $40,000 to repair exteriors and minor issues of homes. One million dollars will go towards those reparations and another $1.5 million will go towards completely demolishing and rebuilding homes that couldn’t be fixed otherwise.

“It will allow people to age in place. It will allow people to keep generational history, and they don’t have to worry about the fact that because of the cost of the reparations of their home, they have to leave,” said Vanassa Ross, CRA Housing Specialist.

Braxton says with the help from the city, he hopes to move back in soon.

“We raised our children in this house. I’ve got grandchildren. It’s been wonderful here,” said Braxton.

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Residents will be able to submit their applications for this program in March.