Developer: Carrfour Supportive Housing, Inc.
Architect: Behar Font & Partners
Major Funders: Miami-Dade County; Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust; Florida Office of Homelessness; Citi Foundation; Department of Housing and Urban Development
Verde Gardens addresses two essential needs—food and shelter— by providing 145 townhomes for formerly homeless families, a 22-acre organic farm, and a public market.
The development is built on land that was part of the old Homestead Air Force Base in Homestead, Fla.
The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust leased the site to nonprofit Carrfour Supportive Housing, Inc., to develop housing for the area's neediest residents.
All the families living at Verde Gardens earn no more than 33 percent of the area median income and have at least one member with a disability.
With so much land to work with, Carrfour is using the project as a microenterprise, creating the largest organic farm in south Florida, according to President and CEO Stephanie Berman.
Residents have an opportunity to gain job skills and earn an income at the farm and the market, which are overseen by the collaborative Earth Learning. Participation is voluntary. Families using food stamps are able to double their value with healthy produce purchased at the market.
“It covers all the needs of a homeless family,” Berman says. “It provides for increasing their income, feeding their families in a healthy way, and forming a sense of community.”
The $19.7 million Verde Gardens earned LEED-Gold certification and was financed with a mix of sources, including $14.7 million in general obligation bond money from the county, which also contributed federal HOME money.