TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – What a difference a year makes. Isabel Del Rosario knows that best.
The Florida Department of Transportation approached Del Rosario with an offer she couldn’t refuse: move, and get money for a new place to live. FDOT gave her more than $10,000 for a new home, she said.
“When they approached me it was a God-send, actually,” she said. Now, it’s been a year since Del Rosario and her son moved out of their home in Tampa Heights and into a cozy home in South Seminole Heights.
Nearby, owners at Tampa Presbyterian Village in Tampa Heights offered to sell the property to make way for upcoming construction for the Tampa Bay Express project or TBX. FDOT paid more than $8 million for the land.
TBX forced all the residents to make plans for new homes and new lives, and now all that’s left is a vacant lot.
More than 300 people needed to be moved out of Tampa Presbyterian Village and it came at a controversial price: more than $3 million.
Some residents got thousands of dollars in rent. Others got more than $20,000 for a down payment on a new home. Most everyone got money for moving expenses.
Department of Transportation leaders see it as a win-win for all involved.
“Everyone was pleased. We had many people that are low-income [and] now they’re first-time homeowners, which is wonderful,” said from FDOT spokeswoman Kris Carson.
The money came from the federal government as part of its advance acquisition process, in which the government takes property for highway improvements and helps residents re-locate.
Residents got money based on income.
For Isabel Del Rosario, life has only looked up. “I’m paying toward my own property [and] have something to leave my son, which is awesome. It’s actually so much better,” she said.