Florida Housing Finance Corporation awards funding for Jersey Commons

For Immediate Release: August 18, 2022

The Florida Housing Finance Corporation board of directors on Friday, August 5, 2022, voted to award and fund a new affordable supportive housing development in Polk County called Jersey Commons.

The 68-unit facility will be located off Jersey Road in Winter Haven, FL. The future Jersey Commons development will offer affordable supportive housing to at least fifteen individuals who are classified as high-need individuals, who frequent local mental health crisis units and/or the crisis detox unit in Bartow, Florida. Additional set-asides include homeless individuals and those with a disabling conditions. A percentage of the units may be leased to persons who do not need supportive services. As part of the development, the program will also provide primary care and behavioral health services on the Jersey Commons site. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation award provides over $8 million in HOME-ARP and NHTF funding and over $13million in federal tax credits. The estimated total development cost is over $22 million.

Jersey Commons will be owned by Tri-County Human Services, Inc. in partnership with Community Assisted and Supportive Living, Inc (CASL) and Blue Sky Communities, LLC. The Jersey Commons groundbreaking is anticipated to take place in the Fall of 2023, with an opening in late 2024 or early 2025. Recently, Blue Sky and CASL worked with the City of Lakeland on a supportive housing development called Swan Lake Village also awarded by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, which is scheduled to open in December 2022, located in north Lakeland on Griffin Road.

Robert Rihn, CEO of Tri-County called this award, “a continuing evolution of supportive housing projects in Polk County that has expanded housing services to the local high-need individuals who in the past were not given priority to access supportive housing. Polk County has one of the larger homeless populations in the state of Florida, through this and future housing developments we are moving to address these needs,” Mr. Rihn stated. “Without this partnership of Blue Sky, CASL, Tri-County and Central Florida Behavioral Health Network, the Jersey Commons award could not have happened,” Mr. Rihn said. “We look forward to also partnering with the Homeless Coalition of Polk County to facilitate
qualified individuals into this project,” said Mr. Rihn.

Since early 1999, CASL has undertaken the development of permanent supportive housing and currently operates in seven counties in Florida. “The success of our agency has not only been in our supportive services, but access to the essential and expedient outpatient and inpatient services offered through our collaborative partners. The stronger the agency, the greater the likelihood of success for the individual we are serving. We have desired to collaborate with Tri-County for several years due to the synergies between the two agencies and I am thankful this is becoming a reality,” said Scott Eller, CEO of CASL. “We have seen incredible success in our other communities and know Jersey Commons will be no different due to the incredible work Tri-County does, this along with our incredible partner Blue Sky
Communities will make this an outstanding and innovative development,” said Scott Eller. Shawn Wilson, CEO of Blue Sky Communities, shared, “Blue Sky is honored to be working with Tri-County and CASL to serve our citizens most in need.

Formed in 1976, Tri-County Human Services is the primary lead provider of DCF licensed substance use disorder and behavioral health services in Polk County, Florida. Tri-County maintains the only detox program for the Polk, Hardee, and Highlands County areas. Serving adults and adolescents in Polk County, Tri-County Human Services has one of the most integrated systems of care for the persons served in the State of Florida. From detox to residential, outpatient, and prevention services, and no wrong door for an individual to enter to gain access to treatment services. A Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) integrated behavioral health accredited agency since 1999, Tri-County ranks in the top two percent of all behavioral health providers in the United States.

Blue Sky Communities, formed in 2012 and based in Tampa, is a leading developer of affordable housing in Florida. Jersey Commons will be Blue Sky’s fourth community in Polk County. Through developing state-of-the-art, environmentally sound units, Blue Sky Communities helps local governments and nonprofit groups achieve their goals in the area of affordable housing development. To learn more, visit our website at www.blueskycommunities.com.