The tight grip of South Florida’s affordable housing crisis is beginning to loosen in Delray Beach.
On Aug. 5, Delray city officials broke ground on Island Cove, a community of affordable apartments located along Southwest 10th Street west of Pine Grove Elementary School. The rental complex will serve as affordable housing for those earning between 30-80 percent of the area median income (AMI) of Palm Beach County, which is currently $90,300 per the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.
The vacant lot on Southwest 10th Street was originally designated for the sale of 54 townhomes, but in 2019 financing for the project fell through. Seeing a need for more affordable housing in the area, the Delray Beach Housing Authority (DBHA) pivoted toward rentals.
“This is an opportunity to serve this community,” said Shirley Erazo, Executive Director of the DBHA, “affordability is vital, we need affordable unit inventories in this area.”
The project is being developed by the DBHA in partnership with the Smith & Henzy Affordable Group and designed by REG Architects. Funding for the project comes in part from a $20 million loan from TD Bank, a $1 million grant from the Delray CRA and tax credits from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.
Sixty units will be available for rent in the new community, with 40 two-bedroom units and 20 three-bedrooms. Preference for 18 of these units will be given to “hometown heroes,” including police officers, teachers, firefighters and nurses. Twenty-five units will be Section 8 Project-Based for renters earning at or below 30 percent of the AMI and rent subsidies will be available for those who qualify. The complex will also include a clubhouse, pool, gym and a children’s playground, among other amenities.
There are currently more than 2,000 people on the waitlist for affordable housing in the area. Erazo says that while not everyone who applies will be guaranteed a home, the DBHA is currently looking for land to develop more housing for low-income residents. During the groundbreaking ceremony, DBHA Board Chairman Dr. Jesse Saginor stressed the importance of focusing on developing affordable, rather than luxury housing.
“Housing is not a luxury for many people in our city, county and state … it’s a necessity” said Saginor.
Unit rents prices will be set by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation and are expected to fall within the range of $800-$1,600 per month. These figures don’t include rent subsidies for which some tenants will be eligible. Erazo says this number could change but “still is going to remain affordable.” Currently, the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Delray Beach is $2,500.
Construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023.