Carrfour Supportive Housing is taking a
“holistic approach” to emphasize a
healthy, sustainable lifestyle for the residents of its latest
development opening this spring, says Stephanie Berman, the
The 145-unit Verde Gardens Apartments will not only provide
housing for formerly homeless families, but it also will provide
the residents with the opportunity to earn a living by learning to
farm and then selling the organic produce they grow at a farmers
market on-site and at other markets around the county.
“The idea of venturing into something
we've never done before is scary,"
says Berman. “But we have embraced the idea
and have a good advisory group behind it."
Berman says the goal behind the farming microenterprise and the
overall development is to teach families how to sustain themselves
and benefit from a healthier, green lifestyle.
Verde Gardens, located in southern Miami-Dade County on a piece
of the former Homestead Air Force Base that is no longer in use
after Hurricane Andrew ravaged the area in 1992, is targeted toward
formerly homeless families that have at least one individual in the
household with a permanent disability; it features two-, three-,
and four-bedroom townhomes.
“Because of the economy and housing market,
we're seeing a lot more families come into the
system,” Berman says.
Carrfour hopes to start the farmers market soon after residents
move in by bringing in locally grown produce so they have product
to sell and can start generating revenue. The land clearing and
preparation was under way at press time so residents will be able
to start planting at move-in as well. A microenterprise coordinator
entrenched in the farming aspect will work on-site to help the
Another way the developer is focusing on creating healthier
lifestyles is by making Verde Gardens a very walkable community
since the area is surrounded by bike trails and walking paths.
“We want them to enjoy the space without
driving through it,” Berman says. Carrfour has also
focused on creating a community feel by having porches facing
toward one another and by building a community center that will
provide common space for the residents and house on-site supportive
The goal for the project is to receive Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design silver certification.
The townhome units are built to Energy Star standards and have
white roofs for increased interior energy efficiency,
energy-efficient glass, insulation applied to all exterior walls
for increased thermal efficiency, and proper sealing at all gaps in
the wall construction to ensure maximum efficiency. The market and
community center also will feature low-flow plumbing features,
which will reduce water-use savings by 50 percent; high
energy-efficient mechanical systems; reduced water usage for
irrigation; increased natural ventilation; stormwater quantity and
quality control; and energy-efficient lighting fixtures and
The $19.4 million development was financed through $15 million
in Miami- Dade County General Obligation Bonds, $3 million in
Miami-Dade County HOME funding, $1.1 million from the Miami-Dade
County Homeless Trust, a $750,000 state of Florida Homeless Housing
Assistance grant, and a $100,000 grant from Citi. The residents
will pay 30 percent of their incomes for rent.