Family Promise seeks to fundraise for affordable housing
SARASOTA COUNTY – Family Promise of South Sarasota County had planned an elaborate fundraising campaign, with the goal of purchasing homes that it could then offer at affordable rents to working families – including those that have become homeless people who have asked for help through the association.
Originally the plan was to raise enough money to buy homes in 2022, but an opportunity to buy 10 homes from a developer in southern Sarasota County at a reduced cost allowed Executive Director Jennifer Fagenbaum to raise at least $ 1 million by October 15.
âThe plan was, on August 31, to complete the feasibility study and in September, for a year, to do a fundraising campaign. But then the developer let that opportunity go and we didn’t want to let it go, âshe said.
This money would be in addition to the $ 300,000 already raised, to which would be added an additional $ 300,000 pledged provided the organization can commit by October 15 – including a grant of $ 250,000 from the Gulf Coast. Community Foundation.
This would allow Family Promise to apply for a loan to finalize the purchase of Parkside Cottages, a 10-cottage development being built by Mike Miller and MPS Development on Substation Road in Venice, off the US 41 Bypass.
âWe have until the end of December to close, so if we get halfway by October 15, I can still try to fundraise for a few more months,â Fagenbaum said.
“We can close it in mid-December and have families there by Christmas,” she added later. “It’s not like we get the money to be able to build them.”
If the October 15 deadline is not met, Family Promise can recover its initial deposit of $ 50,000 and proceed with a longer fundraising campaign.
Fagenbaum has spoken to foundations in the region and other potential donors, but many have already made their commitments for the calendar year.
For many foundations, âthe fiscal year runs from January to December and they’ve already budgeted for the next 12 months and we weren’t there,â she added. âThey said they were interested and wanted to help (but) it’s not in their budget.
Jon Thaxton, senior vice president of community investment for the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, said it was important for the foundation to contribute to the effort.
âWhen Gulf Coast saw this opportunity for affordable housing all the time, for us and the rest of the community it is an opportunity we cannot afford to pass up,â said Thaxton.
âOften with foundations, it gives others the reassurance that it’s a worthwhile investment,â he added. âIt’s not an investment opportunity that we’ve seen a lot in Sarasota, but it should be – it has to become mainstream. ”
A need for shelter
Family Promise of South Sarasota County generally helps homeless families get back on their feet.
Curtis Hodge is the head of one of these households.
He works full-time as a gardener at New College of Florida in addition to a part-time job that takes up to 30 extra hours per week at the Sarasota Memorial Health Care Center in Venice.
For the past five months, Hodge and his two sons have lived in either the Family Promise of South Sarasota County Day Center or a local hotel.
One son graduated last year and works at Village on the Isle, the other started his senior year in high school and works part-time at Village on the Isle.
âIt was devastating to watch my son start his senior year of high school living with suitcases in a local hotel,â Hodge said in an interview posted by Family Promise via email.
Hodge took the Family Promise financial literacy course and attended weekly case management meetings.
Hodge and his sons saved over $ 6,000 through the Family Promise program. During that time, he has seen over 60 rental applications turned down.
Family Promise had hoped to help him buy a mobile home, but his application for permission to live in the park was denied – even though he could afford the land rent of $ 750 a month.
Fagenbaum noted that Hodge and his sons are among three single-parent families currently residing in the shelter program.
âThey all struggle to find affordable housing, forcing them to stay in our accommodation program much longer than families in the past,â said Fagenbaum. âMany families have signed leases that consume more than half of their income just to keep a roof over their children’s heads.â
These families are not eligible for mortgages due to insufficient income or poor credit scores – some of which are the result of hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A unique opportunity
Miller said he was approached by former Sarasota County Commissioner Charles Hines, who was working as a volunteer consultant for Family Promise in its efforts to find potential properties.
The 10-home self-contained neighborhood is a mix of 640-square-foot one-story, one-bedroom and one-bath homes and 1,100 square feet of two-bedroom, two-bathroom homes.
With an original design, the subdivision consists of 16-foot-wide houses built on 26-foot-wide lots with a zero line indentation in the front and to one side, with a 10-foot wide side yard, “Which creates privacy”, as well as a backyard.
âThey want to show people who might invest or help them with this one that this is a viable concept,â Miller said.
The reduced price of around $ 2.5 million for all 10 homes is partly attributed to the bulk purchase as well as the fact that MPS can save on sales and marketing costs.
Miller’s offer at the end of the summer to sell the entire complex to Family Promise significantly accelerated fundraising efforts, noted attorney Steve Boone, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Family Promise.
âIt’s not something we talked to Mike about for eight months; it literally fell into our knees, âBoone said.
Boone noted the location is perfect, close to everything from the Venice area realtor board and the Knights of Columbus, as well as two malls on the US 41 Bypass and SCAT bus stops.
âIt’s not like you’re in a gated community,â Boone said. âWalk to shop, walk to the grocery store, the bus stop, everything.â
When the concept for this year-long fundraising effort began, Boone said, at least one major donor had pledged up to $ 2 million towards the purchase of homes.
“The donor has since backed down,” he added. âThat’s why we go out of our way. ”
Ultimately, Family Promise would like to buy more houses and provide housing for traditionally cited working families, such as nurses, teachers and law enforcement.
At least eight families currently assisted by Family Promise would immediately fill the Substation Road development.
âOnce people leave the church rotation, we can’t find a place for them to live,â Boone helps.
If Family Promise finalizes the purchase, even if it is a short-term financing deal from the seller or an arrangement with a local bank, it may charge families an achievable rent – lower than the market rate. – for about a year, until they become more financially stable and then be able to pay rents at market rates.
Thaxton likes the prospect of the 10 units being a key stepping stone for more families to achieve financial solvency.
âIt’s not a one-and-done thing,â Thaxton said. “These housing units will take in families in crisis, stabilize them, move them and take another family in crisis and stabilize and move them, again and again.”
While Family Promise’s effort is new to the Sarasota area, Thaxton said nonprofits in large urban areas have made similar efforts.
These efforts are successful, the former county commissioner added, when the government is also contributing. He stressed the need for a stronger public affordable housing trust fund as a solution, but added that a renewable local source would also be helpful.
“It will take nonprofits like you see here with Family Promise and foundations and it will take private investors like you see with Mr Miller, it will take the government to ease some of the restrictions on making housing affordable affordable, âThaxton said:â It’s very safe to say that this type of housing is part of the solution. â
â¢ For more information on Family Promise of South Sarasota County, visit https://familypromisessc.org/
â¢ To learn more about the 10 units and to make a donation, contact Jennifer Fagenbaum at 941-497-9881.