Now that a 9% tax credit has been secured from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the New Smyrna Beach Housing Authority expects to begin building a $20 million, 80-unit senior affordable housing complex by the end of the year.

“Right now there is no affordable senior housing in New Smyrna Beach,” said Teresa Pope, the Housing Authority’s executive director, noting properties built in the 1970s that the housing authority kept as senior affordable housing became open market units in 2010.

Ms. Pope said a waiting list of seniors and disabled to be placed into affordable housing grew from just under 200 people in January 2018 to 350 in January 2019 and then to 650 in January 2020.

“We finally had to close those waiting lists because we were now giving people false hope of ever getting housed,” Ms. Pope said.

The housing authority has been working on getting approval and funding for the project for 2½ years. In December 2018, the New Smyrna Beach City Commission committed $427,000 in Community Redevelopment Agency funds for the project.

Pending HUD approval, the housing authority plans to demolish public housing units on Greenlawn Street in the westside neighborhood of New Smyrna Beach, assist the current residents to relocate and build the 80-unit building, which will be 100% hurricane proof and include elevators, Ms. Pope said.

It will have about 65 one-bedroom units and 15 two-bedroom units for seniors 62 and over.

About 40 of the units will be subsidized through HUD’s Section 8 voucher program and the other units will be market rate so the project can be sustainable, Ms. Pope said.

Those receiving vouchers would pay rent of about 30% of their income with the Section 8 program paying the difference from the market rate. The other tenants’ rent would be topped at 60% of the area’s median income, she said.

Ms. Pope said many of the seniors who apply for vouchers have an income of less than $1,000 through Social Security benefits.

“Our lowest rent right now in New Smyrna Beach for a one bedroom unit is $770 a month. So if they’re getting $1,000 a month -- and some of them are (receiving) $787 a month, which is the minimum – and you’re talking even $750 a month for rent, that’s 75% of their income for rent, and that does not include utilities,” she said.

The units will be built at 600 Greenlawn St. Right now there are 34 family units where the building will be located, Ms. Pope said. Those units are 70 years old.

“We had a physical needs assessment where we had to meet a 57% obsolescence test to qualify for HUD to even apply for the demolition, so we have met the obsolescence test of over 60%, so the units are obsolete according to HUD,” she said.

As the housing authority tries to assist the current residents in relocating, it is looking for property owners who would be interested in becoming landlords in the program in which HUD will subsidize the rent.

“Once we get HUD approval and tenant protection vouchers, we will usually have the tenants relocated within 120 days,” Ms. Pope said. “We haven’t submitted the application to HUD yet. We don’t know their timeline right now with Covid, so it could be March or April before we get approval from HUD and then we will start notifying tenants. We need to give them a 30-day notice that we have been approved and they will be receiving their vouchers and then once that’s done, probably May or June, we will be issuing the vouchers for 120 days.”

Once the residents are relocated and after the project is approved by the city’s Planning and Zoning Board and the City Commission, demolition of the current units will begin.

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