Innovative social enterprise works to augment affordable housing for Florida migrant workers
Nearly 200,000 migrant and seasonal workers come to work in Florida every year, and finding high quality, affordable housing is one of their chief challenges. Florida State University's DeVoe L. Moore Center is addressing this difficult problem with an innovative, private sector solution that could help workers and growers in 33 Florida counties.
A two-year privately funded grant is allowing the center to hire FSU economics graduate Kaylee Tuck as a full-time policy analyst dedicated to developing a working business model for Walks of Life Hotel, a project that will renovate large vacant buildings, such as abandoned hotels into self-sustaining, affordable housing for migrant workers.
Growing up on her family's farm in Sebring, Fla., Tuck saw firsthand the housing challenges faced by local migrant workers. Federal law requires growers to set aside funding for migrant worker housing, but the quality and affordability of the homes remains inferior. In addition, the conventional housing market continues to avoid this sector.
The expectation is to launch the Walks of Life Hotel over the last half of 2016, with the capability to provide housing for more than 200 migrant workers in Sebring or a nearby town or county.
Tuck's first year will be focused on developing a full business plan for the innovative project while also researching its application outside the state of Florida, most likely a northern state with a high migrant worker population. Her second year will focus on implementation.
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