First-of-Its-Kind Miami Community Gets $19M in Financing
- Jul 30, 2019
The epidemic affordable housing crisis is definitely more painful for those with special needs. Not only do they struggle to find a home they can afford, but also to find a home that is adapted to their needs. In Florida, for example, 74 percent of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities live at home with a family caregiver—a third of which are age 60 or older. According to the State of the States report, nine percent of IDD residents live in group homes or intermediate-care facilities, although the Americans with Disabilities Act specifies that people with disabilities have the civil right to live in a community.
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Florida has taken the lead and started working on affordable housing communities for IDD residents, where they can receive the accommodation needed to live independently, especially once their family caretakers pass away. Nonprofit Casa Familia was awarded $15 million in federal tax credits and a $4 million grant by the Florida Housing Finance Corp. for the first affordable housing community for IDD residents in Miami-Dade County, dubbed Village of Casa Familia.
“The hard part of obtaining capital funding was building our organization to become capable of undertaking a project of this scope and ambition. Once done, our application for both nine percent tax credits and grant funding from FHFC was approved,” Casa Familia Chairman Marc Plonskier told Multi-Housing News.
A joint effort
Developer Atlantic | Pacific Communities, UM CARD, United Community Options and Miami-Dade County are among those involved in the project. “Casa Familia is now and will continue to fundraise directly to fill a portion of the funds necessary and seek other local public funding sources to complete the funding needed,” Casa Familia President Karin Jawitz added.
The 50-unit Village of Casa Familia will be located in Kendall, Fla., near Indian Hammocks Park. Plans call for a campus-style, pedestrian-friendly community that is set to include extensive amenities tailored to the unique needs of individuals with IDD. The design phase of the project began last month. Village of Casa Familia will “include a supportive, enriched community setting that promotes residential stability, self-determination, socialization and independence, including a movie theater, fitness center, the availability of community dining and much more,” Casa Familia First Vice President Deborah Lawrence revealed. Additionally, the community center will be hurricane-proof and people will be able to use it as a storm shelter.
Atlantic | Pacific Communities COO Kenneth Naylor expects to break ground on the unique project in June 2020.
At risk of homelessness
Because current residential options are either inappropriate, too expensive or simply non-existent, many adults with IDD are at risk of homelessness as their caregivers continue to age. In Miami-Dade County, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is far above the economic capacity of the average adult with IDD, most of whom subsist on $771 in Supplemental Security Income.
Eric Jawitz, a 31-year-old with IDD, told MHN that living in his own apartment, in a community with his friends was his highest priority. He added that he would love a place with planned activities, a gym and a place to eat with his friends, because many of them don’t drive. Alex Perez, another potential resident of Casa Familia’s development, said he currently lives at home with his parents, who admitted that affordability is the primary reason that Alex cannot move out on his own.