Sarasota News Leader

01/25/2013

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Sarasota News Leader January 25, 2013 Page 23 tion, the firm that built King Stone, were local, and those subcontractors brought on 35 new workers from the Newtown ZIP code, including 12 Housing Authority residents. Shaw echoed those numbers, thanking "GOD" ("Good Orderly Direction"), "LPW" ("local people working") and "BPW" ("black people working") for their efforts. Atwell said the new complex "figuratively and literally breaks down walls" and "levels the playing field for our entire community." After the speeches, attendees toured a couple of apartments. Mason examined the features of one second-story unit, checking out the brushed nickel faucet and gas range. "This is a far cry from the Housing Authority I grew up with," she said, opening a microwave door. "Wood, not laminate," she pointed out as she opened a cabinet. Russell tells The Sarasota News Leader that the Authority is in the process of screening applicants for the units and that they should be filled within the next couple weeks. King Stone features one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, and while the federal government sets basic rent expectations based on local averages, rent will vary depending on the applicant's income. Half the units will be set aside for needy families (those with incomes at 80 percent or less of the area median); the other half will support very needy families (those at 50 percent or below). Vernice Harris, who worked for Tandem to build the complex, says the new building is gorgeous. "I had my apartment all laid out," she says, "but I just can't afford it." She adds that rent runs $600 to $750, depending on the number of bedrooms. Sarasota County Commissioner Carolyn Mason checks out the kitchen appliances in one of the new King Stone townhomes. Photo by Cooper Levey-Baker So what next? With the federal government's $23 million all spent, and the Authority's reputation rehabilitated, what will the organization do for an encore? "What we do depends on what funds we get," Hadsell tells the News Leader. One major project remains unfinished: demolishing the final 60 units of Janie Poe, which still sit abandoned and decrepit along Central Avenue. The Authority is in the middle of applying for tax credits through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, administered in the Sunshine State by the Florida Housing Finance Corp. The opportunity to finally tear down Janie Poe, and in the process erase the images of raw sewage in front yards made prevalent by the 2004 documentary Condemned, depends on winning those credits, Hadsell says. "It won't happen without those." %

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