GIFFORD, Fla. (CBS12) — Indian River County Commissioners unanimously voted to put $500,000 towards the creation of a new affordable housing complex in Gifford - next to Dodgertown Elementary School.
Land off 38th Avenue in Gifford will become approximately 70 units of affordable housing - a much welcomed addition to an area in need of it.
“This is an area where there’s a lack of affordable housing," Indian River County Commissioner Susan Adams. "We worked with the community to identify a project that they could support and get behind. It’s going to actually help with home ownership and building equity within that community.”
According to the US Census Bureau, Florida is the fastest growing state in the country for the first time since 1957 - and the demand for affordable housing has increased with it, especially in Indian River County.
The Mayor of Vero Beach, John Cotugno, sits on the county’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee.
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“It’s something that the county needs," he said. "I think the county has recognized that fact and has done a good job of getting the project kicked off.”
According to the Florida Apartment Association, the county is short more than 2,100 units for families with an income below $20,000.
“Realization of the situation I think has finally hit home," Cotugno said. "With COVID, the uptick, the rapid uptick in housing costs in general drove home the situation that we have a problem.”
Commissioner Adams is encouraged by this venture - which she says is due to funding from the American Rescue Plan - but says this is only a drop in the bucket towards addressing affordable housing in the county - saying more projects like it are in the works.
“I think that there’s so many different projects that need to be done to truly, holistically address the affordable housing crisis that we’re having right now, and this is one of those projects that helps fill that need,” she said.
A timeline for the project to become a reality has not yet been announced.