Critics, Supporters Rally Over Controversial AIDS Healthcare Foundation Tower In Fort Lauderdale

Jan 8, 2019

More than 100 supporters of the nonprofit The AIDS Healthcare Foundation rallied in front of Fort Lauderdale City Hall Monday night. 

Chanting,"Healthy housing for all!" the group wore white T-shirts that said, "Love Thy Neighbor." 

The foundation is trying to build a 680-unit micro-apartment tower in the city's downtown but has met opposition from nearby residents who expressed concern over lack of services for potentially formerly homeless people living in the building, and about the size and density of the development.  

"I think it's important that everyone has access to housing, it's really that simple," Robin Schwartz, a supporter of the development said. "I don't really understand why it's so controversial. We need affordable housing. Who wants a community that's all one economic status? We should all live together."

The apartments would be the smallest in Broward County, 263 sq. ft. and two floors that would measure 400 sq. ft.  Exact rent prices haven't been decided yet, but the foundation expects the apartments would be priced somewhere under $500 per month. 

The average rent for apartments across Broward County is more than $1,800 per month, according to county data. 

After the foundation's rally, Fort Lauderdale Vice Mayor Ben Sorensen hosted a community information session to explain how the development approval or rejection process works. 

Vice Mayor Ben Sorensen organized and hosted a community information session that took place after the AIDS Healthcare Foundation rally. City hall was standing room only, with a line of residents outside waiting to be let in.
Credit Caitie Switalski / WLRN

Kevin Cochrane lives in a neighborhood near where the proposed 15-story tower would go up. He came to the meeting to hear about the city's review of the project.  He opposes the project and believes it would not offer quality housing, or social services, for people living in the building who may have experienced homelessness. 

"AHF [AIDS Healthcare Foundation] is trying to entangle so many issues together that are actually all very separate issues," Cochrane said. "There's the general affordability crisis across all parts of this city. You don't solve that by just putting one building in, and requiring everyone to live in that one building. Regardless of the people that live there, what we know is one thing: it's inadequate, substandard housing. Let's get them standard housing."

City staff have already reviewed the project and sent the AIDS Healthcare Foundation comments on its proposal. The city is waiting for a response from the foundation before the development can move forward in the process and go before the city commission for a vote. 

For More WLRN coverage on the proposed AIDS Healthacre Foundation tower, read: AIDS Healthcare Foundation Responds To Criticism Of Fort Lauderdale Affordable Housing Development