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Tooley Oaks of East Mims, Affordable Housing Project Seeks Funding to Realize Vision

In the corridors of East Mims, a vision is taking shape –  a vision born from the legacy of compassion and dedication left behind by Pastor Earlean Tooley. In the 1990s, Pastor Earlean Tooley embarked on a mission fueled by compassion and foresight. Her vision: to build affordable housing that would serve as a cornerstone for positive change in her community. With unwavering determination, she laid the foundation for a vision to address the processing issues of affordable housing and homelessness that affect so many in surrounding communities.

Though Pastor Tooley tragically passed away in 2020, her legacy endured through her daughter, Pastor Karen Tooley Curry. Armed with her mother’s indomitable spirit and a passion for community service, Pastor Karen resigned from her role at the Kennedy Space Center to carry forward her mother’s mission. Under her leadership, the nonprofit Tooley Community Development Group (TooleyCDG) has been dedicated to revitalizing East Mims and beyond.

Nestled strategically in the picturesque confines of Brevard County, Florida, Tooley Oaks of East Mims is weaving dreams into the fabric of the community. Spread across 1.56 acres of land, this development promises more than just affordable housing; it strives for an inclusive and vibrant community.

But what sets this project apart isn’t just its physical attributes, it’s the heart and soul behind the project. Through the utilization of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) site-based Section 8 vouchers administered by the Housing Authority of Brevard County, Pastor Karen ensures that affordability isn’t just a fleeting promise but a steadfast reality, fostering stability and sustainability within the community.

Moreover, Pastor Karen sees the power of community partnerships as a key resource  that expands TooleyCDG’s capacity. Forming ties with the Florida Housing Coalition, the Florida Community Loan Fund, Launch Credit Union, and the Black Economic Development Fund have been invaluable in pushing Tooley Oaks forward and ensuring the project’s success and long-term viability.

Tooley Oaks is a true testament to the convergence of affordability blended with aesthetics, where the “pocket neighborhood” concept consisting of small footprint homes of about 600 and 700 square feet, adorned with ample light and space, redefines the very essence of contemporary living. These self-contained homes, equipped with home essentials such as washers and dryers, offer a glimpse into a future where the community is self-sufficient. Concept drawings, though AI-generated, provide a compelling visual representation of the mission and vision behind the Tooley Oaks of East Mims project.

However, the journey towards realizing this vision hasn’t been without its own set of challenges. Infrastructure limitations such as county sanitary sewer loom large. Yet, true to its ethos of innovation and resilience, Tooley Oaks doesn’t merely confront these challenges; it transcends them. Through the implementation of a new nitrogen-reducing septic systems, the project addresses the existing infrastructure gap while paving the way for responsible growth.

While TooleyCDG has made significant strides in bringing the Tooley Oaks of East Mims project to fruition, community support and funding remain critical to its success. Through partnerships, donations, and grants, TooleyCDG seeks to ensure that every aspect of the project – from construction to maintenance – is carried out with the utmost care and attention to detail.

“In East Mims, we’re not just confronting the housing crisis; we’re honoring a legacy. It’s about more than buildings; it’s about restoring the dignity of a community with a powerful and unique history.”

Pastor Karen’s remarkable track record in community development, strategic leadership, and successes make her an iconic figure in her field, creating an indelible impression, just like her mother, on the organizations and communities she serves.

Beyond bricks and mortar, TooleyCDG embodies a holistic approach to community development. Through successful initiatives such as the Summer STEM program in 2022 and 2023, and the CommunityLink case management program, the nonprofit organization, under the dynamic leadership of Pastor Karen Tooley, has already made significant strides in empowering East Mims Community. With over $650,000 in funding secured within the past three years of operation and a dedicated team driving the mission forward, TooleyCDG stands as a testament to the power of vision, perseverance, and unwavering commitment to community upliftment.

As Tooley Oaks of East Mims takes shape, it builds homes that connect aspirations with opportunities, dreams with realities, and individuals with a shared sense of purpose.

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