Optica Media

A blighted market-rate housing development with over half of the units uninhabitable has been turned around to provide much-needed affordable housing for residents in Belle Glade, Fla.

Developer Housing Trust Group (HTG) partnered with The Spectra Organization, an affiliate of the Palm Beach County Housing Authority, to acquire and rehab the 144-unit garden-style project in this underserved rural community on the shores of Lake Okeechobee in western Palm Beach County.

Covenant Villas' social services, amenities, newly rehabilitated units, and security have revitalized the former market-rate community.
Optica Media Covenant Villas' social services, amenities, newly rehabilitated units, and security have revitalized the former market-rate community.

“We’re looking at an area that is in desperate need of everything and anything we can provide. This is truly an underserved area,” says Matthew Rieger, president and CEO of HTG. “It’s not so much that we built such nice housing, but it’s that we’re adding to the affordable housing stock, which is absent there.”

Covenant Villas brings affordable apartments, social services, amenities, and security to Belle Glade, an agricultural community with sugarcane as its primary crop and high poverty rates. The substantially revitalized development received new metal roofs, impact-resistant windows, electrical, plumbing, HVAC systems, drywall, interior paint, and cabinetry. Enhanced landscaping and site lighting also were added.

The development includes 10% of its units for households at 33% of the area median income (AMI) while the remainder serve households at 60% of the AMI. The housing authority provides project-based housing choice vouchers for 116 units.

Three full-time supportive service coordinators provide literacy training, employment assistance, and family support to all residents. Another key feature of the development was the rehab of an existing on-site day-care facility, which is an additional amenity for residents and the surrounding community.

“The day care is really important when you have a development for working families,” adds Rieger. “To have one on-site is a real luxury.”

The $22.1 million development was primarily financed with low-income housing tax credit equity from Raymond James Tax Credit Funds.