Friday, May 14, 2021
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HACFM grant award of 20 million dollars in HOPE VI funding will transform the obsolete 470-unit Michigan Court/Flossie Riley (FL-047) public housing project. Five hundred seventeen (517) new, mixed income, mixed tenure, Energy Star-enhanced units will be the result of the HOPE VI transformation, a net increase of 47 affordable housing units. All land is owned and proper zoning is in place. Total dwelling structure hard cost budget is $53 million. The HOPE VI dollars budgeted for dwelling structure hard costs are $6.025 million, which will leverage $48 million of committed funding. Three hundred relocation vouchers are being used for relocation. The build-out is envisioned over five, coordinated, overlapping phases. Infrastructure and construction can begin quickly, as the Program Schedule highlights, due to the ownership of vacant land for the new homeownership units and the privately financed, new administrative and maintenance facility. Existing administrative buildings will be demolished and rebuilt, and across the boulevard for the bond-financed, 120-unit senior housing, significantly reducing displacement, as the new units will be ready prior to the need to relocate seniors from the existing complex.

Constructed in 1969 as migrant worker seasonal housing, the units lack any insulation. The absence of a storm water drainage system leads to frequent, severe ponding of water following rainstorms, making many units inaccessible, and heightening, as noted by the Center for Disease Control, the spread of the West Nile Virus. Electrical fires are a regular occurrence due to obsolete wiring; a fatal unit fire occurred as recently as October 2004. The cast iron sewer system is decrepit and collapsing. Severe mold is prevalent on doors and around windows and floors. According to an independent architectural analysis, a minimum of 28 million dollars is required to renovate the project to a "basic minimal standard."

Ninety-eight percent of the on-line units are occupied; however, five times as many families reject this site compared to other public housing due to its historic crime problems (which one resident compared to "Dodge City"), lack of amenities, isolation, quality of the units and lack of defensible space. Currently, Michigan Court is not a destination or gateway to opportunity, but a resignation by residents that this patch of poverty is their last resort.

Investment is blunted in the immediate neighborhood. We propose to jumpstart investment by introducing a vibrant, mixed income, mixed tenure community of energy efficient new units in four overlapping phases, incorporating new urbanist principles.

New streets and street patterns, along with the introduction of a code-compliant water management system to eradicate the problem of flooding and ponding, will provide better ingress and egress to both the on-site footprint units and the new off-site homeownership houses. A new entranceway into the development creates a true "destination address", with new curbs and sidewalks and totally redesigned parking to ensure accessibility and visitability. Total replacement of the collapsing sanitary lines is a necessity. A new Community Center for the seniors and a new CSS Center housing the NNC for the family units is planned.

Less than three-fourths of a mile from the existing site will be the 135 new, off-site homeownership, single family homes (Marsh Pointe). The vacant land for this was donated to the HACFM by a local non-profit to create a "community of opportunity for the American Dream to be realized." This land will be transferred to the housing authority for development. This is a firm and irrevocable commitment of three million dollars of CDBG 108 from the City for infrastructure. These 135 Energy Star homes will be financed by HOPE VI in the initial phases and program/sales proceeds subsequently. Also, additional funding for the homeownership site will come from FHLB, SHIP, Fee Waivers, and Lender Down Payment Assistance. HACFM has an effective Homeownership Counseling program in place and the only HUD approved housing counseling agency in Lee County.

Total project budget is $80 million. Firm leveraged financial commitments include: $10 million multifamily activity bond by the Lee County Housing Finance Authority, with automatic allocation of $6.2 million in 4% tax credit equity; a $3 million CDBG Section 108 commitment; land donation of $6 million; and firm and irrevocable financing commitments from Florida Housing Finance Authority.

Section 3 commitments are in place resulting in dozens of job and economic opportunities for residents and incipient businesses. A DOE/DOL Apprenticeship program is in place through the partnership with Lee County High Tech Center.

CSS commitments exceed $6.3 million in real and in-kind services which would not be made available "but for" the HOPE VI. The Authority has a very strong FSS public housing and Section 8 in which several residents have already achieved fee-simple homeownership. Committed partners, such as the dynamic Ruth Cooper Center and the Boys and Girls Club, along with an established Neighborhood Networks Center, make for an excellent program.

Development Phases

Phase 1 - Construction of 120 units of Senior Rental Housing

Phase 2 - Construction of 96 units of Family Rental Housing; Construction of HACFM Administration Building on site

Phase 3 - Construction of 96 units of Family Rental Housing

Phase 4 - Construction of 74 units of Family Rental Housing

Phase 5 - Construction of 135 Affordable Homeownership Units off-site

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