Westgate Story

Ribbon Cutting at 2495 Hiawatha Ave., West Palm Beach Pictured (left to right): New homeowner Aston O’Connor; Leslie Lilly, Community Foundation of PB & Martin Counties; Jim Walker, Florida Community Loan Fund; Commissioner Priscilla Taylor ; Trina Allen, new homeowner; and CRA Board Member Joanne Rufty

A ribbon cutting was held on October 11, 2012 at 2495 Hiawatha Ave. with key note remarks made by County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor.  The event celebrated the completion of thirteen energy-efficient homes that meet the standards of the Florida Green Building Coalition on what were five blighted vacant lots where decaying houses once stood.  In addition to age and neglect, many Westgate homes were lost during the 2004-2005 hurricanes.  This development is part of the long-term strategy to revitalize the Westgate community through the addition of new homeowners and the resurgence of the neighborhood’s housing market.

To bring the home prices within the financial reach of low and moderate-income buyers, Palm Beach County‘s Department of Economic Sustainability (DES) provided a $2,058,461 construction grant.  These dollars were part of the County’s 2005 Disaster Recovery Initiative funds for Hurricane Wilma from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.   According to Edward Lowery, DES Director, “The state not only provided the financial resources but also the program guidance required to ensure that this funding was maximized to the greatest extent possible in addressing hurricane recovery and the preservation of affordable housing. Also our Board of County Commissioners has remained focused on addressing the housing and development needs of communities across Palm Beach County.”

The Florida Community Loan Fund, a statewide source of flexible financing to support community development projects by non-profit organizations throughout the state, made an $850,000 revolving loan to the project as well.  James Walker, South Florida Community Loan Fund Loan Officer, acknowledged, “The last few years have proven the critical importance of the non-profit industry in addressing urgent needs in our communities.  I cannot think of any other way these homes would have been built.” All of the homes are sold and occupied by first-time homeowners.