From 14th Street in Dade City, it’s hard to imagine the site that has been home to Dade Oaks Apartments since 1977 was once a lakebed.
Yet, there are some parts of the property, maintained by the Pasco County Housing Authority, that drop as much as 55 feet, and flooding has been an issue there for decades.
That’s why when the time came to do something about the aging buildings, Pasco County decided to tear it all down and start from scratch — somewhere else.
Pasco County Commissioners has set into motion the final days for the 69-unit, single-level complex, eyeing a 12.8-acre site up the road.
“There has been flooding continually at this apartment complex, and HUD has continually threatened to take back all the vouchers there,” said George Romagnoli, the county community development manager.
Not that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would have a lot of vouchers to take back. Flooding and other issues have created unsuitable living conditions there, and with it a high vacancy rate. That means people looking to get housing assistance help have even more limited options than they already had because of the state of Dade Oaks.
Commissioner Pat Mulieri said she’s seen flooding firsthand at the apartment complex.
“There were many times we had our mobile medical unit, and we had this great event with a pig roast, and then because of all the flooding, it had to be discontinued,” she said. “Flooding is a known factor there.”
Razing the complex has been on the table for more than a year, but putting plans and funding together to fix the situation has not been easy.
Now, however, a new Dade Oaks could rise through the Florida Housing Finance Corp. efforts to pick up federal funds. It will take $12 million to build a new complex to house 69 units, along with nearly $330,000 to purchase the new property.
Commissioners approved making a deposit of $13,000 through the State Housing Initiatives Partnership for the land that will allow the housing authority to complete its purchase by the end of February.
Commissioners also approved a local match to federal funds, pulling $1.25 million from its county Home funds as well as from Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2. HUD’s Home Investment Partnerships Program provides grants to states and localities (like cities and counties) that help buy, build or rehabilitate affordable housing. The program allocates $2 billion each year to states.
“It is true that this is a large portion of our budget,” Romagnoli said. “That’s 15 percent of our funds right now,” but because of the dilapidated condition of the complex, something needs to be done soon.
The new site, as proposed, would include some duplexes among its 69 units, and could be under construction as early as next summer, said Dianne Morris, executive director of the Pasco County Housing Authority.
Commissioners approved the measure unanimously, with Ted Schrader abstaining since he had a family member involved in the deal.