Tallahassee Businessman Showcases Efforts to Ease City's Affordable Housing Crisis

Feb 23, 2017

A Tallahassee businessman gave city commissioners a tour Thursday of two new developments aimed at easing the city’s affordable housing crisis. 

Rick Kearney is known for his advocacy on behalf of Tallahassee’s homeless. For several years, he has been laying the groundwork for what are now the Dwellings and Westgate Community. He says it’s a living experiment that could lead to more efforts by the private sector to address public needs.

A home under construction at the Westgate Community.
Credit Joseph Zeballos-Roig for WFSU News

“We didn’t have to wait for a grant or the Department of Housing to come down and approve this. This is something that is rather unproven. This is almost like a living laboratory here, but it’s working," Kearney says. "It’s cash flowing itself. All costs are covered by the rents of our residents. These are folks that were, three months ago, homeless.”

According to city records, the average rent in Tallahassee is over $1,050 a month. The Westgate Community is already housing over 100 people who pay between $150 to $240 a month for a bed, shower and shared amenities.

The Dwellings is a 'tiny-home' green community meant to aid homeless and low-income residents.  Two dozen homes with 130 units up to 400 square feet in size are expected to be built. But the project has also run into opposition from neighbors who worry it will bring crime and lower their property values.