24 Jun Housing for Working Families
AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE | By Christine Serlin
A new affordable housing development in Central Florida is helping to ease the financial burdens of working families in a state that’s struggling with rising costs and low incomes.
Freedom Gardens in Brooksville, just outside of Tampa, provides 96 affordable homes for households earning 60% or less of the area median income.
As expenses continue to rise, wages have not. According to the study, 67% of all jobs in the state pay less than $20 per hour, with three-quarters of those paying less than $15 per hour.
Tampa along with the other big markets in the state of Florida all have unmet and essentially unlimited demand for more affordable housing, says Matt Rieger, president and CEO of Miami-based Housing Trust Group (HTG), the developer behind Freedom Gardens. Whenever we build a property in one of these big markets or submarkets, we are very confident within days of opening up leasing that we’re going to be fully leased.
Freedom Gardens was 100% leased upon opening this past summer. To continue to meet the demand in the area, HTG hopes to close on financing early next year on a second phase with 94 additional units.
HTG prides itself on providing amenity-rich housing. We always want to provide multifamily housing at the highest level, irrespective if it is a conventional project or whether it is workforce or affordable, says Rieger. Just because someone pursues a career that pays less doesn’t mean they should live in substandard housing.
Freedom Gardens includes a clubhouse with a cyber cafe, a 1,000-square-foot pool, an exercise room, a volleyball court, playgrounds, and a dog park. In addition, the development offers after-school care and an employment-assistance program for residents.
One of the best things about being in the affordable housing business is that we truly change lives, adds Rieger. When we are able to provide safe, clean affordable housing for those residents who need it the most, you see an immediate change in their lives.
Freedom Gardens also achieved a green building certification under the National Green Building Standard from the National Association of Home Builders.
The 18.5 million development was financed primarily with low-income housing tax credits allocated by Florida Housing Finance Corp. Raymond James Tax Credit Funds purchased the tax credits with Citi Community Capital as the proprietary investor. Citi also provided construction and permanent loans.
Additional partners on the development include Fugleberg Koch as the architect and Hennessy Construction Services as the general contractor.
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