Overview of Neighborhood
Imagine arriving in one of the largest agricultural production areas in the East to no place to sleep. Unaccompanied workers are usually faced with the “last-least” shelter in rural America: isolated units or ones far below building code requirements making it the “least” desirable housing in a local area and the “last” to ever be rented. Now envision instead arrival this morning at our 128-bed Manatee Village SRO, a model single room occupancy lodging in Ruskin, Florida. Simple registration; fresh linens; shared accommodations; air conditioned space; modest furnishings and unit kitchens – all for $185 per months utilities included. Not to mention internet access, a sports court and cable television.
It’s a simple model to a long-standing problem. But implementation is anything but simple as not-in-my-backyard battles rage, financing options grow slim and seasonal occupancy wreaks havoc on the usual operating pro forma. Rural Neighborhoods refused to play it safe, balanced risks and said Si se puede! No “last-least” shelter tonight if you stay at our Manatee Village SRO.
Computer Learning Center & Library
Playground & Sports Court
The Community: Ruskin
Despite the perception that Hillsborough is an urban county, 34 percent of its land area is farmland and 2011 sales totaled $832M. Past alarm over the coming demise of local agriculture has evolved into an assurance that agriculture will not only hold its own but prosper in the years to come. Low value production like cattle and forestry has given way to high-value-per-acre commodities – ornamental plants, strawberries, aquaculture, sod, blueberries and vegetable production.
The result: Hillsborough County counts the largest number of households statewide engaged in agriculture at 15,295 and leads in the number of unaccompanied workers at 9,741 due to these labor-intensive crops. Its unmet need for beds for single workers in 2013 is estimated at 4,371 – the second greatest gap in Florida. Rural Neighborhoods’ Manatee Village SRO meets a small part of this need and is the sole non-employer owned asset throughout central Florida.