Cooperative Community Coping with Decrease in Residents

Treasure Coast Newspapers reports that Ocean Breeze Park, an incorporated pre-HUD code community on Florida’s eastern shore just south of Fort Pierce, lost 23 percent of its population between 2000 and 2010.  Founded in 1938 by Harry and Queena Hoke as a 55-plus community, it was incorporated as a town in 1960 to prevent being swallowed up by nearby Jensen Beach, and in 2008 the residents purchased the land to prevent the heirs of the Hokes from selling it to a developer.  A low-income community, it is now struggling under rents that increased to pay for the loan, which also forced some of the residents out.  The median household income in 2009 was $19,766 according to U.S. Census Bureau data.  In an attempt to lure Baby Boomers, the community is marketing a Five Star energy efficient manufactured home.  The 91-acre town survived two hurricanes in 2004 with minimal damage, but the loss of residents and the aging population are taking its toll.  Said Mayor David Myers, “We’re really trying to bring us into the 21st Century, without losing our identity from the last century.”

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