The City of Lake Worth is situated within Palm Beach County, Florida, and is one of the country’s areas hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. The city has an eclectic mix of residents ranging from young aspiring artist to retired senior citizen, and is home to a large percentage of Spanish speaking residents who have migrated from Latin America.
This relatively small city had large areas heavily impacted, with abandoned homes and buildings, as well as unoccupied lots heavily littered. Revitalization is now seen through funds provided by HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP 2) which awarded a $23.2 million grant to the Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) leading the Lake Worth NSP2 Consortium, consisting of 20 community based organizations and local companies assisting with the revitalization efforts.
With the grant, the partners were able to buy abandoned and foreclosed properties to produce 155 units of affordable housing. The properties sold and rented through the NSP 2 program will continue to produce revenue that will be used to produce additional units of affordable housing in the coming years. One of the consortium’s signature projects is the Urban Arts Lofts which includes 12 new units of affordable housing and work space in an effort to attract aspiring artists to downtown Lake Worth.
The Consortium’s efforts have not only transformed the community by putting properties back on the market, it has also created much needed employment opportunities in the field of construction work during the economic downturn. Over 26% of those employed as contractors were residents who met the eligibility requirements of HUD’s Section 3, which provides employment for low-income individuals living in government-assisted housing or households that fall below HUD’s income limits.
The efforts aren’t going unnoticed. At the beginning of March, The Lake Worth CRA and the Lake Worth NSP2 Consortium received a 2013 City Cultural Diversity Awards and won first place for the “remarkable Lake Worth NSP2 Consortium Affordable Housing Program” from the National League of Cities and the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials.