Dramatic Facelift for Low-Income Housing in Miami

Villa Maria in Miami, Fla.
Villa Maria in Miami, Fla.

New-and-improved home sweet home.

A Mediterranean Revival style building, once so deteriorated that the city of Miami Beach was ready to demolish it, has been brought back to life by the Miami Beach Community Development Corporation (CDC), a non-profit group that will maintain it as housing for low-income seniors.

The 11 residents who still lived at Villa Maria when the renovation work began in July 2008 will come back to the building, which sits on Collins Avenue and 28th Street in the heart of the city's heavily trafficked hotel district. Returning to their renovated apartments is a huge blessing. They enjoyed -- and missed -- the comeraderie among the tenants in the building.

The rest of the 34 units will be rented to seniors on fixed incomes. The tenants will pay only 30 percent of their monthly income for rent. The remainder is subsidized through a federal housing program. (To be eligible for HUD's Section 8 housing subsidy program, family income must be 50 percent below the median income of an area. In the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area, the median income is $55,900.)