Pasco County moves forward with low-income housing complex for veterans, disabled

A site plan shows the layout for Magnolia Oaks in New Port Richey, a project that will feature 77 units of new construction rental units, primarily for homeless veterans and their families and the non-elderly disabled and families.

NEW PORT RICHEY — County commissioners on Oct. 26 heard about a new housing development in the works for very-low and low-income people from Marcy Esbjerg, director of community development.

She presented them with the plans for Magnolia Oaks in New Port Richey, a project that will feature 77 units of new construction rental units, primarily for homeless veterans and their families and the non-elderly disabled and families. Forty of the units will be for homeless veterans, she said, and the rest will be for non-homeless disabled people who are or might become homeless, transitioning out of institutional settings or at risk of institutionalization.

The site at 7338 Massachusetts Ave. will have townhomes with a community building, a swimming pool and supportive services. Unit sizes will include 34 one-bedroom units, 33 two-bedroom units and 10 three-bedroom units.

People often ask why it’s done this way, Esbjerg said. “Very much, the need in our community is for single adults, the one-bedrooms.”

You can’t just put people at risk in housing, she said, so they need those supportive services on site.

Two years earlier, $1 million was approved for the project in an action plan. Now the funds are available and they are proposing giving the funds so construction can begin. The total project cost will be $16.3 million, she said, and Pasco’s funds will be $2.1 million. There will be matching funds of $525,000, and a federal Housing and Urban Development funding loan of $12.4 million. The latter has been approved.

Construction should begin in February 2022, with a completion date of June 2023.

So, the resolution was to approve the $2.1 million to finalize the financing so construction can begin, she said.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a while,” Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said. “I’m so excited about this coming forward. We need this badly all over the county.”

“More is better,” County Commission Chairman Ron Oakley said.

Esbjerg said the money is there for this kind of housing.

David Lambert of the Pasco County Housing Authority said this is the first of many projects.

“Now we are a top-performing housing authority,” he said.

The units will be one-story, and there will be a Veterans Affairs caseworker on site in the community center. They are looking at putting in a health center. “It will really go a long way toward combating homelessness,” Lambert said.

More housing is in the pipeline, he said, and there is a great need for it.

Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the development.