Melbourne City Council approves low income affordable housing plans with Daily Bread
In a vote the mayor called their “most controversial,” the Melbourne City Council approved Tuesday night to move forward with an affordable housing project off Sarno Road.
The Providence Place project is a collaboration that’s been years in the making between the city and nonprofit Daily Bread, currently serving as a soup kitchen and day shelter for people experiencing homelessness. It will serve low income individuals and families.
Once completed, the complex will offer 120 units built on 3 acres of city-owned land in a heavily industrial area that neighbors Brevard County Solid Waste Department Sarno Facility and Florida Recyclers of Brevard landfill properties. The city is using the provisions of the Live Local Act to bypass zoning restrictions.
Councilwoman Mimi Hanley of District 5, which oversees that area of Sarno, has spoken against the development almost from the start. Her critiques include the character of her community, saying the complex will attract people who frequent the Daily Bread facility.
At Tuesday night's meeting, she said the low-income future residents should not be made to "live by the dump," in an attempt to sway the vote. She was the only council member who supported a competing plan to build a dog park in that area instead.
Melbourne Mayor Paul Alfrey said he was disappointed.
“You know, unfortunately, when we talk about affordable housing, everybody in this firm supports affordable housing until it's in your backyard, and we're gonna call it for what it is, NIMBY I think is what they call it. Not In My Back Yard," he said.
Daily Bread, an organization that has served the Melbourne community for about 35 years, shifted their focus five years ago to finding housing solutions to the area’s growing needs, as the number of people experiencing homelessness continues to increase.
When the affordable housing complex starts construction, Daily Bread will shut its doors to that facility for good. The center is currently on Fee Avenue in a residential area, which has caused years of complaints from residents.
Executive Director Jeffrey Njus said the homeless community won’t be forgotten. He said the plans to build this new complex are part of a housing-first approach that his organization is committed to fulfilling.
“I’ll tell you the frustration of running a day shelter is, it’s such a half measure, when what somebody really needs is housing — a place to go all the time and overnight," he said.
Njus said he plans on implementing a scattered mobile outreach program that will include pop-up sites for hot meals and hygiene services.
He also said the complex will include a food storage facility for distribution, as well as mental health, career building, and community resources for the residents.
Lillian Hernández Caraballo is a Report for America corps member.