Miami-Dade County Revitization Program
Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida
Miami-Dade County, Florida
For years, Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida (NHSSF) has concentrated on revitalizing the neighborhoods of Miami Gardens and Brownsville in Miami-Dade County. Located in the older urban core, the area was historically African-American and largely owner occupied. “Today’s young families want larger, more modern homes,” explained LeeAnn Robinson, chief operating officer at NHSSF. “Due to the age, size and condition of homes and a negative perception of the direction that the community was headed, young families were not coming in, and those with financial means were choosing places like Broward County where the housing stock is newer,” she said. “Seniors typically remained because of their small fixed incomes and high prices of housing alternatives, and families sometimes remained because of their multigenerational ties to the neighborhoods. Basically, the neighborhoods were no longer a competitive choice and were in decline.”
NHSSF devised a plan to help breathe life into the neighborhoods, holding events there and making the community the focus of a marketing campaign. “This is where we put our stake in the ground,” said Robinson.
In July 2010 an NHSSF-led coalition received funds from HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) to purchase, renovate and sell foreclosed properties. Their strategy included a mix of new construction combined with transforming structurally sound but seriously deteriorating vacant homes into well-renovated homeownership opportunities to make the neighborhood competitive again.
Community Housing Capital (CHC) provided acquisition financing to allow NHSSF to leverage the NSP funds. “CHC’s thorough understanding of the NSP program meant they could help us to craft a loan structure that would make the program work very well for NHSSF. CHC’s financing provides 100 percent of the acquisition costs which enables us to buy the properties with cash. The NSP funds then pay off the CHC acquisition loan. NHSSF also secured construction financing from CHC to build several new homes and for rehabilitation of the deteriorated housing stock they had purchased for resale.CHC’s willingness to provide bridge financing for the NSP funds, made the whole project feasible.” Robinson said.
NHSSF acquired 36 properties, of which 31 were rehabilitated and five were razed. They also constructed an additional 27 new homes. NHSSF provides homebuyer education to help hard-working families prepare to purchase homes, sustain homeownership and put down roots in the community. To date, the consortium has renovated or constructed 103 units of single- and multi-family housing in the South Florida region.
The project’s impact extends beyond the lives of individual families, strengthening the viability of the community as a whole. Housing prices in the area have increased by almost $30,000, and average days on the market decreased by nearly 50 percent, partly due to the work of the consortium. Families that are choosing the neighborhoods now are bringing both economic and ethnic diversity, which is having a very positive impact. “We can say we made a difference in stabilizing the community and increasing property values,” said Robinson.