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Pasco gives $2.1 million to housing for low-income veterans and disabled

Magnolia Oaks will provide 77 new housing units in New Port Richey.
West Pasco Government Center.
West Pasco Government Center. [ Special to the Times ]
Published Oct. 27

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County commissioners this week agreed to kick in $2.1 million to a $16.4 million affordable housing project planned for New Port Richey through the Pasco County Housing Authority.

The Magnolia Oaks facility will be built on a 9.8-acre property at 7338 Massachusetts Blvd. It will include 77 townhouse units designed to house 40 low income and very low income veterans and their families, as well as 37 non-elderly disabled citizens.

The project will include 34 one-bedroom units, 33 two-bedroom units and 10 three-bedroom units, a community building and a swimming pool. The facility will also be designed to provide on-site support services to help the vulnerable residents, explained Marcy Esbjerg, Pasco County’s community development director.

“We’ve been waiting for this for awhile,” said Pasco Commissioner Kathryn Starkey. “I’m so excited about this coming forward.”

Starkey added, “How quickly can we start doing another one? This is what we need. We need this badly.”

Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey.
Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Esbjerg said that she agreed, and that the county has funds to assist with future projects, but it needs community partners like the housing authority to assist.

In the case of Magnolia Oaks, the county’s contribution is added to funding made possible through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Construction is set to begin in February with completion in June 2023.

“This is a big boon for our community and it will go a long way in combating homelessness,” said David Lambert, chairman of the Pasco County Housing Authority. He said it will be especially helpful because it will address the needs of the vulnerable and their families. Veterans Administration services will be provided at the community center and there are also early discussions about providing health assistance.

Lambert said that with the Housing Authority’s available units 99 percent full at all times, more housing is needed. He said that an additional 38 units are also planned through the non-profit Vincent Academy Adventure Coast, slated to be built near the Pasco County Vincent House.

“We recognize the need,” Lambert said.

Commissioner Christina Fitzpatrick thanked officials for working with the community to discuss their concerns about drainage in the area where the units are located. She also asked whether there was any thought of adding a Sheriff’s substation at the location for security purposes.

Pasco County Commissioner Christina Fitzpatrick.
Pasco County Commissioner Christina Fitzpatrick. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
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Lambert said that the Housing Authority would work with the Sheriff’s Office but had not been contacted. He added that residents who apply with the Housing Authority are run through a national background check. Any residents who run into serious problems with the law, including felonies or drug offenses, lose their housing.

Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano.
Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

“This is a phenomenal project,” said Commissioner Jack Mariano. “I’m very excited to see the project. We’re happy to keep working with you.”