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Claude Pepper Towers get needed facelift

caines | 5/24/2012, 6 a.m.

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Rehab job tops $9 million in upgrades

Brownsville has gotten a much-needed hand with more affordable housing for senior citizens. The announcement was made during the grand opening last week of the recently-renovated Mildred and Claude Pepper Towers a $9 million rehab job. The Claude Pepper Towers are a unique example of a successful rehabilitation utilizing a combination of public and private financing sources, said Steve Protulis, executive director of the Elderly Housing Development and Operations Corp., a non-profit developer that owns the building. The 15-month project created jobs for about 100 union construction workers, each of whom took great care to facilitate the process for elderly tenants. In a single day, crews packed up a tenants belongings, tore out and replaced a kitchen and bathroom and returned them to their unit in time for dinner. This is a wonderful facelift for the community, said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson. I am pleased to be here and to see this development continue Claude Peppers legacy of fighting for the needs of the elderly. Edmonsons office is directly across from the Towers [2350 NW 54th St.]. The Pepper Towers residents are represented by her as the District 3 county commissioner.

A closer look at quality work

The need for affordable housing is evidenced by the waiting list of 800 people hoping to get in at the Pepper Towers. Each unit has one bedroom and rents for $150, subsidized by taxpayers. Housing is only available to pre-qualified low-income seniors. Total funding for the 150-unit renovation plus rent subsidies was nearly $11 million, which was raised through the sale of low-income-housing tax credits allocated by Florida Housing Finance Corp. In addition, a Housing and Urban Development-insured mortgage for $4 million was handled by Wells Fargo. An additional cash infusion of $2.3 came as a result of federal stimulus dollars. Renovations on the Peppers Towers, built in 1978, include: energy-efficient lighting; high-efficiency windows; new kitchen cabinets and counter tops; and full-size Energy-Star rated appliances. Amenities include: a computer room, gym; and library. By Theo Karantsalis