Habitat for Humanity of Broward celebrated the groundbreaking of “A Rick Case Habitat Community,” its largest project to date, on June 6 by recognizing the philanthropists behind it. The nine-acre site in Pompano Beach will feature 77 affordable homes and a publicly accessible park in the area of NW 15th St. and NW 6th Ave. near Blanche Ely High School and Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church.
Considered to be among the largest of its kind in the nation, the $18 million project was lauded by Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson and Governor Rick Scott in March of 2017 as an exemplary effort to help low-income families become homeowners.
With the cost of land, construction and interest rates all rising and government funding being cut, there is a huge housing need in Broward County.
A March 2016 study by NYU Furman Center and Capital One found that the Miami metro market, which includes Broward County, was the least affordable rental market to the typical renter in the nation’s 11 largest metro markets studied.
Habitat Broward addresses this critical need by bringing every community sector together. Funds will be raised for this project through partnerships with corporations, foundations, government agencies, the faith community and generous individuals.
Ed Ansin, of Sunbeam Television/WSVN 7 and Rick and Rita Case, of Rick Case Automotive Group, have provided much of the initial funding for infrastructure, such as water, sewer, roads and electric. The Mary N. Porter Legacy Fund of the Community Foundation of Broward contributed a $1 million challenge grant, and a portion of the infrastructure work is being donated by the US Army Reserve 766 Engineer Company. The City of Pompano Beach is also helping together with other contributors.
“This is the biggest thing we’ve done and an incredible opportunity to put people in homes 77 at a time,” said Robert Taylor, Jr., Habitat Broward chairman of the board and president of Burdette Beckmann, Inc., who also contributed to the project.
Taylor recognized honorary board members Nancy A. Daly and Robert “Bob” Leider, vice president, WSVN-Channel 7, who had the vision to raise the funds to purchase the property where the community will be built. “We thank the people who led the way and were the trailblazers for this project. It’s no small task. It’s a beautiful thing to put a family in a home. It’s a whole other matter to put 77 people in homes and build a community,” said Taylor. “That’s what Habitat is about.”
Rita Case, of Rick Case Automotive, explained that Bob Leider approached them saying, “I have a vision for this property. It’s vacant land. It’s never been built on. I need someone to fund the infrastructure – the sewers, the roads, the permitting. And Rick and I said, ‘We’ve got to do this. This is our backyard. We lived in this zip code for 35 years, so we’re excited to be neighbors of the project as well. Our businesses and our children have been raised here and the community in Broward County has been great.’”
A longtime advocate for the Boys and Girls Club, Rita Case said she became familiar with Habitat for Humanity of Broward when invited to participate in a mother-daughter build with her daughter, Raquel. “As I got to understand the project, I realized this is a heartwarming opportunity to have a family deserving of their own residence to actually own it and raise their children there,” Case said.
The concept that grew into Habitat for Humanity was born at Koinonia Farm, a small, interracial, Christian farming community founded in 1942 outside of Americus, Ga. Millard and Linda Fuller first visited Koinonia in 1965 to begin a new life of Christian service. They developed the concept of “partnership housing”—where those in need of adequate shelter would work side by side with volunteers to build simple, decent houses.
Established locally in 1983, Habitat Broward and its community partners have since empowered 400 families to build strength, stability and self-reliance through affordable homeownership.
Nancy Robin, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity of Broward, explained it’s all about building community and hope. “We just dedicated seven homes in Washington Park. The families have all helped build each other’s homes and gone through a year of classes together… it’s beautiful to see them all in each other’s homes and celebrating together,” Robins said.
Families who qualify for Habitat homes are stable, hardworking families who dream of creating a better life for their children; however, they are unable to obtain conventional house financing. Their income is generally 40 to 80 percent of the area’s median income.
Prospective Habitat homeowners families must…
* Possess adequate income to cover utilities, maintenance, mortgage payments, taxes and insurance.
* Have monthly debt payments (including housing) below 43% of income.
* Show a record of paying bills on time.
* Have stable income for two years or more.
* Work a minimum of 300 hours of sweat equity building homes.
* Attend mandatory homeownership classes on life skills such as budgeting, credit scores, financial literacy, home repair and maintenance.
* Be able to contribute $2,000 towards closing costs.
* Maintain property after the home is purchased, and
* Repay the purchase cost of the home in a timely manner.
Because Habitat houses are built using donations of land, material and labor, mortgage payments are kept affordable and homeowners receive the keys to their home with a no-interest mortgage.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, Linda B. Carter, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Broward, said, “The values of community, of giving a hand up and not a hand out, to allow people who need help the dignity, respect and pride of not feeling bad about getting help… that’s exactly what Mary N. Porter was all about… Our board of directors was proud to make one of the largest grants to this community from the Mary N. Porter Legacy Fund.”
Home construction is expected to begin in late fall 2018 and will take about five years to complete. Sponsors are still being sought for individual homes within the community. For information, visit habitatbroward.org.
For more articles by Shelly Pond, please visit goodnewsfl.org/author/shelly/