After more than 10 years of planning, public housing is coming to Hialeah

Julio Ponce, director of Hialeah’s Housing Authority, in his office on Tuesday, July 31, 2018.
Julio Ponce, director of Hialeah’s Housing Authority, in his office on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. rkoltun@elnuevoherald.com

The Hialeah Housing Authority (HAA) has announced the construction of an 80-unit apartment building for elderly people with low incomes.

HHA Director Julio Ponce said the project will cost $11 million, to be financed with HHA and federal funds as well as bank loans.

The project was in the planning stages for more than 10 years, as the city acquired nearly 20 plots of land for $1.6 million, Ponce said Tuesday.

“I am very proud to be able to leave a new building with 80 homes for the city,” said Ponce. “There’s a great need for housing in our community, as well as the rest of the country. One more house is one less family on the street.”

The plans call for a five-story building in the Seminola neighborhood, near the former Telemundo 51 headquarters in western Hialeah.

Ponce said it’s not been decided whether HHA will hold a lottery to assign the 80 apartments, or will assign them to people already registered on a waiting list. The list has 2,900 people waiting for public housing and 2,300 waiting for Section 8 housing.

Construction will begin in December and will last about two years, he said. The construction company will be selected through a public bidding process.

“It will take time to develop the project,” Ponce cautioned.

Demand for subsidized housing in Hialeah is so high that whenever authorities announce a lottery, people form long lines to register, or the digital registration system becomes so bombarded that it jams up, Ponce said.

Miami-Dade needs about 5,000 new low-cost housing units built each year to satisfy demand. About 15 million people will need accessible housing by 2025.

Follow Enrique Flor on Twitter @kikeflor