Local government is expected to donate 25 acres of land valued at $7M. Even more important is a new innovative financial model in which key foundations contribute $10M in equity to the planned rental community led by the Richard Schulz Family Foundation, Community Foundation of Collier County and Moorings Park Foundation. Neighborhood Revitalization Manager Dottie Cook said, “It is unprecedented to see this much philanthropic support, support that leveraged local government to offer land and will leverage even greater support from others in the future.”
The Florida Keys Community Land Trust, a land trust founded on Big Pine Key in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, became a corporate affiliate of Rural Neighborhoods in recent weeks bringing 4 nationally-recognized cottages to our growing portfolio of 1,796 unit rentals. But it means much more than numbers! This partnership merges FKCLT Founder Maggie Whitcomb’s unprecedented leadership, advocacy and post-storm success to RN’s accomplishments – much of which arose out of the Hurricane Andrew disaster in 1992. Together, our groups hope to spur an affordable housing movement throughout Monroe County. Steven Kirk, President of RN, celebrated the collaboration: “Our approach is finding local partners who truly understand the need in their communities, support their strengths and together, achieve a scale offering greater impact than can be achieved alone. The land trust offers us a proven track record, land banked to build on, and a new tool for our toolbox so we can better achieve affordability.”
Bank United joins Rural Neighborhoods in support of Casa Amigos through its sponsorship of a $500,000 Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta Affordable Housing Program loan that was recently awarded to RN and its commitment of $325,000 in project bridge financing.
Tax credit investor Alliant Capital has pledged $11.6M in equity toward Deer Creek Senior Housing in Gainesville. Thanks as we celebrate Alliant’s third investment in RN properties – a partnership beginning nearly 15 years ago.
RN will begin construction on both projects in 2021.
Earlier in the year, members of Rural Neighborhood’s sewing group happily agreed to help their community when asked to sew face masks for farmworkers and their families in Immokalee. The group, which started approximately four years ago, meets weekly to learn sewing. Lusvi Perez is the volunteer instructor and enjoys helping members learn a skill they can use to supplement their family’s income.
With support and donated materials from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), members of RN’s sewing group made several thousand masks. Each sews at their own home to practice social distancing, but look forward to returning to class once the virus eases.
RN is helping its residents in other ways. Its Homestead campus periodically serves as a COVID test site for residents and surrounding neighbors. RN also received a $60,000 grant from Collier County under the CARES Act. The funds will be used to create PPE kits for residents and purchase sanitization equipment for RN’s Immokalee properties to sanitize common areas as well as apartments at turnover.
Longtime Rural Neighborhoods volunteer, Antonia Rios’, recently spoke about her immigrant experience with PBS station WUFT. Rios’ Eden Park home in Immokalee was damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017 and was among the more than 70 owner-occupied dwellings rehabbed by Rural Neighborhoods with financial assistance from the Community Foundation of Collier County and American Red Cross. We hope this in-depth article and the video below help readers better understand the struggles new citizens endure to build better lives for themselves and their children.
It seems it was just months ago RN was awarded funds to construct seventeen rental homes on Big Pine Key – Florida’s Ground Zero for the 2017 Hurricane Irma landfall in 2017. That disaster recovery effort is growing larger. Florida Housing Finance Corporation and CenterState Bank pledged $3.3M to construct nine units at Seahorse Cottages II and $1.8M to build five scattered site rental homes called The Avenues. This follows our May 2019 $7.5M acquisition of Tradewinds Hammocks in Key Largo.
Rural Neighborhoods was one of 11 community organizations to receive a grant from Trinity by-the-Cove Episcopal Church in February. RN will use the generous donation to further its $2.5 million renovation at its Timber Ridge at Sanders Pines apartment complex in Immokalee. Specifically, the funds will cover improvements to the newly created community garden and will help finish a sports court for children. Thank you Trinity by-the-Cove Episcopal Church!
Cannery Row at Redland Crossing, our planned 112-unit senior housing rental community in the Naranja neighborhood north of Homestead, received $3.5M Miami-Dade Documentary Stamp Surtax Program funding in November. This financing — derived from an additional levy on documents that transfer interests in Florida real property — closes the remaining gap in Rural Neighborhood’s $33M, LIHTC-financed project.
Cannery Row’s 7-story, 1- and 2-BR design located on the South Dade TransitWay Corridor is our first Transportation Oriented Development (TOD) and tallest structure to date. The corridor is 20 miles in length and connects numerous municipalities which represent some of the fastest growing communities in Miami Dade County. Site plan approval and building permits are moving forward toward an expected July 2020 groundbreaking.
NeighborWorks America’s Strategic Investment Fund helped support geographic expansion of Rural Neighborhood’s shared-housing model and that seed money is reaping dividends! Casa Amigos – a 96-bed, 28-unit rental community at Esperanza Place in Immokalee recently received a $5.15M commitment from Florida Housing Finance Corporation toward 2020 construction.
Our shared-housing model enables unrelated adults to share rental apartments through individual rather than household leases. Residents enjoy landlord-paid utilities, basic furnishings and service-enriched living at a monthly cost ranging from $225 to $250 per month per person. This is RN’s 4th shared housing venture as we perfect our approach. The latest properties – Casa Juarez and Casa Amigos – encourage employer-assisted living where businesses subsidize rents for segments of their workforce.
Maggie Whitcomb established the Florida Keys Community Land Trust in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irma by assembling lots throughout Big Pine Key for the rebuilding of what was “ground zero” on September 10th, 2017. Generous local giving helped the land trust break ground on its four-initial, scattered- site Keys Cottages and set aside six additional lots for development.
Rural Neighborhoods and FKCLT have announced Seahorse Cottages at Big Pine Key, a partnership to build twenty-two storm resilient, single-family rental homes built high above storm surge and sea level rise and targeting households at 80% AMI. The $8.64M project received $1.10M in conventional financing from CenterState Bank and was awarded $7.54M in CDBG-DR financing from Florida Housing Finance Corporation.