Thu, 31 May 2007 20:16:00

Local businessman rebuilds low-income homes in Black Daytona

Local businessman rebuilds low-income homes in Black Daytona

Andreas Butler

There’s a fresh start being made at 408 School St. in Daytona Beach, with the remodeling of an old structure at its epicenter. Michael Andersen is rebuilding a once dilapidated house and reconstructing new dwellings for low-income families in the area.

Andersen is the President/ CEO of Casa de Comienzo Fresco, LLC, which in English is translated as ‘House of Fresh Beginnings’. The company builds and remodels affordable housing for low-income residents.

“If people don’t have money, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need adequate housing and a nice place to raise their kids,” said Andersen.

Andersen was living and working in New York City as a corporate recruiting supervisor before moving to Daytona in October 2006. His grandfather later died, leaving him a home here in Daytona Beach.

One day while driving down School Street, Andersen noticed something.

“I saw this house, this church and the nursery and said to myself, ‘What is the city doing? Why is it like this?’ ” he said.

Commitment and funds
Andersen finances the construction costs of the home. He hired a contractor and got a building permit.

“I’ve spent $35,000 of my own money,” he said. He’s attempting to get a beautification grant from the city for $5,000.

Andersen hires laborers and supervises the work. Some of laborers are from the neighborhood and he himself sometimes rolls up his sleeves and pitches in. He can often be found cleaning gutters, sweeping trash and hauling things.

“I stay very active in the operations,” he said.

A refreshing start
The new building has two units. Each has two bedrooms and one bathroom. The kitchen has granite counters and glass blocks. It has a big back yard and a porch. New appliances are also included. The home will be for Section 8 families or those with low incomes.

“My ideal people are single families; a single mother or father with kids,” said Andersen.

Rent will be in the $600-700 price range. Those on Section 8 only pay a percentage, while government pays the rest.

“On this same street people pay the same price, but this is newer,” he said.

Andersen hopes that the building will pay for itself and plans to use the rent money he receives on property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and building materials. He took out a loan against his own home to buy this home and others.

“I will use the money from this to pay on that loan. I’m doing this for the people, not for profit,” he said.

More in store
Andersen purchased another house on Jefferson Street next to Bethune-Cookman University.

“I’m starting with this house on School Street, but I plan on branching out and fixing up one little house at a time,” he said.

Feedback on Andersen’s efforts has been positive. Someone told him that he was an answer to others’ prayers.

“I don’t know if I am or ever have been that,” said Andersen. “I wanted to help people who people forget. I have some money, but it doesn’t mean that I am different than anyone else.”

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