Verandas 3 site plan

A county contribution was supposed to improve the odds of funding 56 units of proposed subsidized family housing on Airport Road in Punta Gorda. The odds were not as good as hoped, however.

They rolled the dice and got a five, but they wanted a one or two.

Advocates for the poor worked hard last fall to persuade Charlotte County Commissioners to set aside $425,625 for subsidized, low-income housing in Punta Gorda.

The goal was to boost the county’s odds for $13.2 million in construction subsidies.

With the financial commitment in hand, the Punta Gorda Housing Authority submitted its application to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. Called Verandas III, the project is to build 56 units of low-income restricted housing near the Punta Gorda Airport.

Applications are selected by lottery, and Punta Gorda got a five out of 191 projects from small- to medium-sized counties. These were just projects submitted with financial backing from their county.

The problem is, the state only expects to fund two projects for this shorter list, said Housing Authority Director Kurt Pentelecuc.

That could change depending on the size of the projects, he said, so it’s not over yet.

“Some of them might fall out. Some of them might have no funding,” he said.

The final decision is in April.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Joe Tiseo already has plans for the $425,625, if it doesn’t get used. He wants to use it to help offset the cost of construction impact fees for any housing for low-income groups.

Pentelecuc, however, said if the housing authority doesn’t get picked this round, he plans to resubmit next year. The authority has waited seven years for previous applications to be selected. This year, the state introduced the shortlist program, where counties could increase their odds by committing their own money.

Last fall, two of five commissioners voted against supporting the project. Commissioner Joe Tiseo objected to the high cost as well as the fact that the construction contract was given to Norstar Development without rebidding. Norstar got the contract in 2008 to rebuild 184 units of section 8 housing destroyed by Hurricane Charley. Four of those remain unbuilt, and would be included in the new project.

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