The Fort Lauderdale housing complex provides stable homes for the homeless and cheap rent for local workers

A Fort Lauderdale developer and a local non-profit have just completed a unique $25 million real estate project to provide discounted apartments to area essential workers struggling with the high cost of housing in the area and homeless people in need of stable homes.

This affordable housing community called Seven on Seventh recently opened on the city’s Seventh Street next to Broward Partnership’s Central Center for Homeless Assistance.

The project is the result of a seven-year collaboration between Fort Lauderdale developer Green Mills Group and the Broward Partnership, a nonprofit organization working to alleviate homelessness. Half of the 72 apartments are set aside for local workers such as teachers and other residents who meet low-income requirements.

The other 36 apartments are for people moving from living on the streets, or in shelters, to a place they can call home, as well as at-risk individuals and families. All rental apartments range from studios to two-bedroom ones.

Green Mills Group received $25 million to build the apartment complex from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.

“My partner Oscar Saul and I have been developing affordable housing our entire careers,” said Mitchell Rosenstein, co-founder and president of Green Mills Group. “We worked together and all we did was develop affordable housing and the workforce throughout the Southeast, but really concentrated in Florida about a decade ago.”

Having grown up in Broward County, Rosenstein remembers driving past the former parking lot the apartment community now occupies. He said it’s important to him to make sure residents have the basic amenities that market-rate apartment buildings have: a fitness room, a club room, and an interactive library.

This is the fitness center inside the new affordable housing community, Seven on Seventh, in Fort Lauderdale. Da Varela/

Monthly rent for tenants starts at $1,200 and the county will provide financial assistance with rent payments to those who need it. The property also accepts Federal Section 8 Housing Vouchers from tenants to cover part or all of the monthly rent.

Like the rest of South Florida, Broward has been mired in a housing affordability crisis. According to the 2022 Broward County Affordable Housing Needs Assessment, in the past five years, 25,000 homes in the county that were considered affordable now carry higher prices, and 32% of renters in the county spend more than half their annual household income on rent. The average rent for a high-efficiency apartment in Broward is $2,100 per month, while the average monthly cost for a three-bedroom apartment is $3,300.

Frances M. Esposito, CEO of Broward Partnership, said one of the primary goals of her agency’s partnership in developing Seven on Seventh is to help individuals transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency. Two case managers work in the apartment community to help residents find health care, dental and behavioral health services.

“We’re not just talking about workforce development and training opportunities, but also educational opportunities like financial literacy,” she said.

Esposito has spent more than 25 years working as an advocate for the homeless, and believes the homeless community is a major step in a new direction. Her nonprofit has helped 33,000 individuals without stable shelter, and she is confident the Seven on Seventh community will boost that total.

This is the shared space for tenants living in the new Seven on Seventh apartment building in Fort Lauderdale to gather for social activities.  Da Varela/

This is the shared space for tenants living in the new Seven on Seventh apartment building in Fort Lauderdale to gather for social activities. Da Varela/

For renter Pamela Cammon, her apartment represents a new beginning and a chance to finally rest. The former Miami Gardens resident moved to Fort Lauderdale three months ago. Earlier, she spent years living with her family in different parts of Georgia.

“The building is quiet,” the 65-year-old said. “It’s a big deal for me, because I’ve been struggling. … I’m so excited about this building I can’t put it into words. It’s so hard to rent next to someone’s house and sleep in your car. I never thought I’d go through that.”

Cammon drove school buses for 40 years, before working at an adult day care center in Fort Lauderdale. As she settles into her new one-bedroom apartment, she’s optimistic about the potential for success for her and her neighbors in the Seven on Seventh community.

“If you saw me, you would never know I was in conflict,” she said. “I’ve been through a lot, but it doesn’t seem like it.”

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