This story has been updated.
An LGBT-friendly affordable housing project for seniors will be built at the gateway to the “second gayest city” in the United States.
Despite concerns about parking and possible tax abatement issues, last week city commissioners unanimously approved the 48-unit housing project. The complex is slated for construction at 2040 N. Dixie Highway, where it will adjoin The Pride Center at Equality Park.
The project, to be built by Carrfour Supportive Housing Inc., will include low income housing tax credits from Florida Housing Finance Corporation, already secured by Carrfour.
“We’re very pleased to have finally reached the finish line,” said attorney David J. Coviello, who represents Carrfour.
City commissioners are still mulling the idea of allocating $200,000 from the Wilton Manors Affordable Housing Trust Fund for the complex.
The project is expected to cost $15 million. The county has said it will contribute $900,000 towards the project if Wilton Manors also contributes, according to Commissioner Julie Carson.
The project, which has been both sharply criticized and resoundingly applauded, still has unresolved issues. Wilton Manors Gary Resnick requested Carrfour explore the possibility of giving Wilton Manors residents some percentage of preference as far as occupancy. Coviello said that determination will be subject to state and federal law.
City commissioners also wondered about the possibility of receiving a payment from Carrfour in lieu of taxes if some of the units are subject to tax abatement because 34 of the 48 units will be set aside for the disabled. They requested answers on or before October 9th.
Carrfour President Stephanie Berman said all applicants for the affordable housing project will undergo a background check. Protecting children from sexual offenders become a hot topic in the city earlier this year after it became public that a registered sex offender was employed at The Pride Center at Equality Park. The man was subsequently arrested for failing to for failing to re-register as a sex offender.
The facility has a playground that is used by children and will be in close proximity to the 48-unit affordable housing complex.
“As we do in all Carrfour properties, we will be conducting sexual offender/predator screenings on all tenant applicants at The Residences at Equality Park,” Berman said.
The affordable housing complex will be designated as a 55 and over community. Restrictive covenants will run with the property, Coviello said.
According to the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995, communities that wish to be designated as 55 and over must follow the 80/20 split meaning at least 80 percent of the occupied units must be occupied by persons 55 years or older. There are no requirements for the other 20 percent. So a 55 or older community could theoretically designate 80 percent, or 100 percent of the units for persons 55 years or older. These communities can also mandate that all persons living in the household be 55 or older, or they can mandate that only one person in the household be 55 or older.
It’s unclear what Carrfour’s affordable housing project’s specific rules will be. SFGN asked for clarification, but Carrfour they declined to answer at this time.
It is also unclear what criteria will be used to determine if a potential resident is “disabled.” Carrfour has agreed to designate 34 of the 48 units for “low-income seniors living with disabling conditions, such as physical illnesses or disabilities due to complications from HIV/AIDS.” Carrfour declined to elaborate at this time.
“There’s a growing need for affordable housing in South Florida, particularly among underserved populations such as the senior LGBT community and those living with disabilities,” Berman said in a press release. “Beyond providing a place to call home, Carrfour will partner with The Pride Center to ensure that residents at The Residences at Equality Park have convenient access to community services, healthcare, financial planning, and social networks that combat isolation.”
Commissioner Tom Green worried about inadequate parking at site already plagued by a parking crunch but ultimately voted for the project.
“When the Pride Center has meetings and when the Pride Center has the yard sales, the cars just go - there is no way they can be contained on the site,” Green said. “How are they going to do parking with this when there are these events on the campus?”
Vice Mayor Justin Flippen said affordable housing has been part of the future vision for Wilton Manors.
“This was an opportunity for us to truly transform plans on paper into reality,” Flippen said after the commission vote in favor of the project. A payment in lieu of taxes for affordable housing has never been done before in South Florida, he added.
Carrfour’s affiliate Crossroads Management LLC will manage the building and have a presence on-site. The property will be leased from the Pride Center under a 65-year, long-term lease and must be maintained as affordable housing for 50 years.
- Units would include a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments of varying sizes
- The complex will include a club room, a library/computer room, a gym, laundry and an administrative office
- The main lobby will physically connect with the main Pride Center building
According to the lease agreement, the Pride Center will receive a one time payment based on the maximum lease amount of $24,860 per unit, for a total of $1,193,280 for 48 units. The lease is for 65 years.
After year 15, the building can revert to the Pride Center, subject to the lease, Coviello said. The 50 year affordability restriction comes from Florida Housing Finance Corporation, and will be memorialized in a recorded covenant running with the land, he added.
Jason Parsley contributed to this report.