Three months ago, Nora Pino moved in with her sister. She had looked for her own place to live, but couldn’t afford the rents.
That changed in November when Pino was chosen by lottery to move into the Piñeiro building, an affordable-housing project for senior citizens in Miami’s Shenandoah neighborhood.
The housing complex, which was built with $7.4 million public dollars obtained by Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami, was officially inaugurated on Thursday.
As of December, its 34 units were accounted for. The demand for the apartments was so high its administrators used a lottery to select residents.
“This is a blessing and a dream,” said Pino, who will now pay $384 a month rent for a small unit with a living room, kitchen and bathroom. “It’s very cozy and it provides me with more independence so I feel very blessed.”
The building, at 1176 SW 20th Ave., was constructed by Related Urban Development Group, a subdivision of developer The Related Group, which specializes in the construction of affordable housing. The residents, all over age 65, pay rents between $383 and $510 depending on their income levels.
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro said the building was named Manuel “Manolo” Piñeiro to honor one of his mentors, who in 1992 showed him the need for affordable housing for the elderly.
“He kept me focused on working to fix the issue of the need for public housing that was, and that has unfortunately worsened,” Barreiro said.
The project which was built on the site of an edifice constructed in 1926, and next to a school, makes only a small dent in the problem of affordable housing in Miami-Dade.
While some areas of the county have experienced a recovery in the housing market, a large number of families in low-income neighborhoods can barely afford to pay the rent. According to the 2012 U.S. Census, 20.7 percent of families in Miami-Dade with underage children live below the poverty level, compared to 14.7 percent in 2008.
“We are working against the clock,” Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado said Thursday about the need for affordable housing. “I know that with projects like this the housing problems of 50 people are resolved, but there are 50,000 more who are still waiting”.
“The vast majority of complaints and requests received by the city are related to problems of income and affordable housing,” Regalado said. “I think there should be federal or state intervention.”
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