Our northernmost project, Deer Creek, opened earlier this month in Gainesville, Florida. Built to provide housing for those 62 and older, this colorful property fills a critical need for housing for low-income seniors. Some of Deer Creek’s amenities include a fitness center, computer room, meeting rooms, and its proximity to the adjacent Alachua County Senior Service Center and the Northside Park. The 62-unit property was built in partnership with local nonprofit, Neighborhood Housing and Development Corporation, using Low Income Housing Tax Credits.
Collier County’s Board of County Commissioners cleared the last hurdle to creating 350 new units of affordable housing in Naples. At its meeting in late April, the BCC approved re-zoning the Golden Gate Golf Course to allow residential development on a portion of the course. Selected by the BCC as the non-profit developer, Rural Neighborhoods will construct 250 units for essential service workers (educators, health care providers, and first responders) and another 100 units for seniors. Collier Community Foundation, Moorings Park Foundation, and Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation are jointly donating $10 million to support the project, while the County is providing land and assistance with infrastructure. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2023. The draft site plan is shown below.
A lack of community space in western Immokalee prompted Rural Neighborhoods to seek funding for its Esperanza Community Center. Collier County provided $400,000 in CDBG funds toward the $1.2 million project. The new structure, to be located in front of the new Casa Amigos apartments, will provide meeting space, office space for non-profits, and resources for residents seeking housing in the community. Construction is scheduled to start this summer with completion expected in mid-2023.
Rural Neighborhood’s latest shared housing development, Casa Juarez, will open shortly, providing 32 new units. The apartment complex was constructed using $7 million in Florida Housing Finance Corporation SAIL funds and $500,000 from the Federal Home Loan Bank. Casa Juarez is located at Rural’s headquarters in Homestead and is the second shared housing complex at that location. Casa Cesar Chavez was the first such model and opened in 2008 with 28 units.
Florida Housing Finance Corporation announced funding to two new construction projects sponsored by Rural Neighborhoods. Everglades Village Phase 5.6, a 20-unit farmworker-targeted addition to our Florida City 511-unit campus received $4.3M in a recent invitation to credit underwriting. In Labelle and Hendry County, Rural will broaden its current senior and farmworker assets through Pollywog Creek Mews, an adjacent 28-unit project broadly serving rural households. It was selected for $5.7M in HOME financing. President Steven Kirk remarked, “Our mission calls on us to tackle small, niche housing projects – it’s difficult given the limited scale. But if the marketplace fails to do so, it falls to charitable groups like us.”
Community Housing Capital, a Decatur, GA Community Development Financial Institution, and Florida Housing Finance Corporation closed $14.7 million in capital to the Rural Neighborhoods – Florida Keys Community Land Trust’s Seahorse Cottages and The Avenues rental communities in March. The planned 31 units will commence construction in April 2022 and serve Keys residents earning 80% of Adjusted Median Income. CHC’s construction debt was issued at 3.44% in conjunction with 15-year permanent financing term at 4.85%. FHFC’s CDBG-DR capital is a forgivable loan in Year 20 at 0% interest in the interim.
Northern Trust Corporation, a leading practitioner of corporate social responsibility and leader in wealth management and banking, recently invested $2M in Rural Neighborhoods’ affordable and workforce housing strategies. This capital is the lead community development investment in Rural’s social investment fund targeted toward innovative housing products and gap financing. “Northern Trust is remarkable in their vision and quickness to jump start our expanded work” says President Steven Kirk. “It’s our hope their experience and expertise give comfort to others to make additional social capital available to our housing mission.” For further information on how your institution or business can participate in the social investment fund, please contact Steven Kirk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cannery Row at Redland Crossing, our newest 112-unit senior rental community in Miami-Dade’s Naranja neighborhood, achieved 100% occupancy in less than 60 days as the final resident moved family pictures and furniture into their rental apartment in mid-March. Citibank and Miami-Dade County Surtax funded the mid-rise LIHTC rental community and marks Rural Neighborhoods’ first transportation-oriented development. Located at the intersection of SW 264th Street and the South Dade Transit Way Corridor, the busway is one the six rapid transit corridors of the Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit Plan. Pinnacle Housing Group served as co-developer and partner with Rural Neighborhoods. “The crisis in affordable housing is real and acute,” remarked newly elected Chairperson Alphonso Townsel. “To see demand absorb these new residences tells us how critical more rental housing is to our communities.”
In late May, BankUnited and Florida Housing Finance Corporation closed loans to Rural Neighborhoods for its newest rental community in Immokalee, FL. Nearly $6M was raised to build 96 SRO beds targeting low-income, H-2a visa worker and agricultural labor housing. Rural continues to serve as a national leader in housing models serving farmworkers and Casa Amigos is a continuation of its shared housing model rolled out in other locales including Ruskin and Florida City. “Florida Housing Finance Corporation has more than 20 years innovation and leadership in serving our state’s farmworkers,” Steven Kirk remarked. “It’s a two-way partnership, and for all that time, each of us have sought ways to adapt to the need and the changing character of the workforce. BankUnited joins in that effort as it seeks ways to better serve its Collier Market.”
Rural Neighborhoods’ President, Steven Kirk, testified before Congress in March 2021 before the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations at its Creating Equitable Communities through Transportation and Housing hearing. In answering the question as to how communities best apply a racial equity lens toward equitable development, he answered “no one knows the needs of a neighborhood better than the persons experiencing the struggle.” He noted “our housing and community development work is driven by people of color” citing RN’s diverse board comprised of 40% LatinX, 20% Black and 40% women membership and 90% minority staff. He cautioned elected officials against a rush towards newly formed entities to accelerate equitable housing. Instead, he encouraged proven housing groups to embrace greater racial diversity and to encourage mergers between organizations to blend organization diversity and scale.