City Officials Tour Affordable Housing Communities

affordable housing
Posted at 5:54 PM, Feb 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-23 17:54:00-05

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- City leaders and staff toured two housing sites in Tallahassee designed to help those in need put a roof over their head for more than just a night. 

The first stop on the tour was the Westgate Community, offering beds for as low as $5 a night and an option to eat a hot meal three times a day.

On the outside, this community may look small, but it's actually home to over 100 residents, all living in a safe and peaceful neighborhood.

"It kind of self-polices," says Rick Kearny, one of the founders of the Westgate Community and Kearny Center. "If somebody's acting out, the residents will come to our manager and say 'Hey, this person's not acting right." They don't want the neighbors concerned about this. This is a peaceful healing environment."

The first house in the Westgate Community opened almost four years ago. Since then, it's expanded to include bunk houses, other rooming houses, and single occupancies, under construction, to give locals a more stable living environment. Residents can stay for as long or as short as they need to.

"These are folks that were, three months ago, homeless," Kearny says. "They were dependent on our community, or they were living on somebody's couch. Now they're independent."

Late, city officials moved their tour to The Dwellings, a tiny-house community currently under construction. The hope is that The Dwellings will be a sustainable community, able to grow their own food and irrigate using rainwater.

This community will help residents become more independent, teaching them to manage their home budget. Just like the Westgate Community, The Dwellings, will offer onsite jobs for residents to help cut the cost of their rent.

"If they can't afford the full rent, maybe their check just doesn't cover the nominal amount of rent that we have, they can volunteer to work in our kitchen, to do security at night. they can do grounds maintenance and help out with up-keep and janitorial and so forth," continues Kearny.

Once this community is finished, it will offer 130 homes, ranging from 290 to 400 square feet, a community center, onsite laundry, and much more, all on 30 acres.