PALMETTO -- Jacob Miller has a new roof over his head, literally.
Miller’s residence is one of 49 units in the Palmetto Villas Apartments complex that recently underwent renovations paid for with a $1.12 million loan provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency.
“A year ago this was a battleground,” said Richard A. Machek, state director for USDA Rural Development, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday in front of the apartments’ leasing office.
He said that when properties are “nice and clean,” residents tend to take better care of them, and that he hoped the commun- ity would stay engaged with the upkeep of the apartments.
The Guaranteed Rental Housing loans are given to citizens, corporations and partnerships who help provide affordable housing to rural communities.
Before the renovations, the property had “no hope of survival,” Machek said, and called the end results “phenomenal.”
Thomas F. Flynn, president of Flynn Development Corp., said the apartments went through a series of rehabilitations, including the installation of new air-conditioning units, new exterior doors and roofs that resist 130-mph winds.
“I know our residents really appreciate it,” Flynn said.
A new video security system also was installed.
Palmetto Villas Apartments, built in 1979, offers 800-square-foot, two-bedroom apartments and 925-square-foot, three-bedroom apartments.
According to Flynn, the apartment complex has a 95 percent occupancy rate.
Flynn said the renovations would not increase tenants’ rent. The apartments house low-income families and about 46 households are under rental assistance programs, he said. Tenants who receive rental assistance pay up to 30 percent of their income toward rent and utilities.
Flynn said the renovations were done by a combination of local subcontractors and out-of-area contractors who have worked for the company on other projects. The work started last July and took about six months to complete, he said.
“When I moved here it was kinda bad,” said Miller, who has lived in the area since 2001. “But now it’s really good. They’ve really fixed it, it’s nice and quiet now.”
Miriam Valverde, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow on Twitter @MiriamValverde.