$12 MILLION COST PROJECTED

Kennedy price tag increases


Jed Baumwell, a housing development officer with Community Housing Partners, speaks with Doris Edwards, left, and Evelyn Foxx, right, on Monday in the lobby of Gainesville City Hall.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 at 12:37 a.m.

Facts

FYI: plans for complex

  • The rebuilt Kennedy Homes would have a swimming pool, exercise room, library and a computer lab.

  • Community Housing Partners, the nonprofit housing organization that wants to rebuild Kennedy Homes, said it will cost $12 million to raze the complex to its foundation and rebuild it - nearly double what the organization originally planned to spend repairing Kennedy Homes.
    Community Housing Partners officials told the Gainesville City Commission on Monday that they want to replace Kennedy Homes' 172 garden-style apartments with larger, two-story townhouses.
    The rebuilt Kennedy Homes - which would be given a new name - would have some of the trappings of an upscale apartment complex: a swimming pool, exercise room, library and a computer lab. Community Housing Partners would also offer job training, education for first-time home buyers and financial counseling.
    It would take 13 to 15 months to rebuild Kennedy Homes, according to the organization.
    Kennedy Homes came under scrutiny in the spring of 2003 for things like falling ceilings, mold and general disrepair - all problems that had been documented by government inspectors for years.
    Residents were moved into hotels in October after a fire destroyed some apartments and revealed gas and electrical problems throughout the complex. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development agreed last month to give residents vouchers for new housing.
    Not everybody was excited about the proposal.
    "Right now, we're not happy," said Doris Edwards, chairwoman of a neighborhood association for Lincoln Estates, which borders Kennedy Homes. "We haven't been included in the (decision-making) process for a property that sits right behind our back doors."
    Edwards said most people in Lincoln Estates would rather see a bed and breakfast or a retirement home move to the area instead of more low-income housing.
    She said the rats and roaches that were prevalent at Kennedy Homes have infested the surrounding neighborhoods. She also blamed Kennedy residents for trash problems in the area.
    The commission voted unanimously on Monday to extend a $150,000 loan to Community Housing Partners to help rebuild Kennedy Homes.
    The rebuilt Kennedy Homes would target working families with a household income of between roughly $17,000 and $32,000 a year, depending on the size of the family.
    Residents could use government vouchers to help pay rent. But unlike the first Kennedy Homes, the complex would be open to tenants who don't receive subsidies.
    "It's an affordable housing project, but it's really different than what was there before," said Jed Baumwell, a Community Housing Partners housing development officer.
    Commissioner Tony Domenech, like most of the other commissioners, said he was pleased with Community Housing Partners' drawings of the rebuilt complex. He said, however, he was afraid the rent payments - initially projected at $472 to $675 - would be out of reach for previous residents of Kennedy Homes.
    "I'm sure everybody likes what they see, but it appears that the rates have gone up considerably. I'm trying to determine how this will help the folks that are now dispersed all over the place," he said.
    Meanwhile, about 29 residents have been denied housing vouchers, largely because of past criminal convictions. Some asked the commission for help on Monday. "Good or bad, we did not ask for this," resident Novella Holmes said. "We're not asking for pity. We're asking to be housed."
    HUD has said that all residents will be provided new housing, regardless of their backgrounds.
    City Manager Wayne Bowers said those residents will have a chance to appeal their cases to the Gainesville Housing Authority. If residents are not awarded vouchers after the appeals process, HUD will make arrangements for their housing, he said.
    Ashley Rowland can be reached at 374-5095 or rowlana@gvillesun.com.

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