The Boca Raton Housing Authority was established in 1978. Its formation was a response to the needs of the “Pearl City” Community. The mission of the Housing Authority is to provide safe and affordable housing to very low income families. As the years have passed this mission has expanded to encompass providing various social services to our families either directly or through various partners with whom we work. The Authority has grown to a business whose overall operating budget is over $8,000,000.
The first acquisition by the Housing Authority was Dixie Manor. It was acquired in 1979 with $1.4 million in Community Development Block Grant funds. Barracks style buildings existing on the site were rehabilitated into 40 rental units in 1982, using $1.3 million in Public Housing funds (Federal dollars). Phase II of the project, containing 55 newly constructed apartments and a community center, was completed in late 1984 at a cost of $2 million. Dixie Manor presently is home to about 350 people.
The Housing Authority in conjunction with support from various community agencies (the Schmidt Foundation, Boca Ballet, Children Services Council, Family Central and the City of Boca Raton) supports the CATS (Children Achieving Their Success) program, an after school and summer program for children between the ages of 5-12.
The program serves the children of Dixie Manor and the Pearl City neighborhood. It began in 1988 is still young and vital. It continues to be a role model for programs of its kind in Palm Beach County. We have placed a very strong emphasis the past several years on providing a strong cultural and educational environment for the children. We have established a computer lab and an employee is a liaison to the elementary schools and acts as an advocate for the children. We provide intensive tutoring for general academic skills with an eye to the children’s success on the FCAT’s while still having fun and enjoying their learning experience . The children attend ballet classes, tennis clinics, violin lessons, participate in yoga classes and have time left for play and socialization.
Boca Island East was the Authority’s next acquisition. The apartments, built in 1960 had fallen into disrepair. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) foreclosed on the delinquent FHA insured mortgage and HUD agreed to sell the apartments to the Housing Authority. The Authority obtained private financing for improvements and HUD gave the Authority a Project Based Section 8 Assistance contract. The 51 units are a result of cooperation between public entity partners with the private sector. Today, the Housing Authority has completed its Section 8 contract and ended its relationship with HUD on this property. The property is and will continue to be an affordable rental property.
The Authority also serves about 850 families through the tenant based Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. This program provides a subsidy to low-income families for housing. Families secure a lease with a private landlord, and we enter into a contract with the landlord to subsidize the rent. The tenant will pay 30% of his/her adjusted income for rent. The Federal Government provides funds for this program, at this time the Boca Raton Housing Authority receives $6 million dollars in rental assistance annually for the program.
The Authority has a Family Self Sufficiency Program. The primary goal for any family entering this program is to enable them to live independently without any housing subsidy. We provide counseling and establish escrow accounts for the families who enter into a five year contract to meet this goal. Most families use their escrow funds to enable them purchase a home, continue schooling or enter vocational training. It has been a very successful program. A cooperative venture between our organization and local banks initiated our homeownership program for working families receiving Section 8 vouchers.
With the exception Boca Island East all the programs are supervised by HUD. All the participants in the programs must meet the income guidelines established by the Federal government. The clients and residents pay no more than 30% of their adjusted income for rent. The balance is paid with Federal funds administered by the Housing Authority. Dixie Manor receives a small subsidy, recalculated each year depending upon the property’s rental income. We operate the property using tenant rents, the operating subsidy and capital grant funds from the government.