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Centro Campesino provides affordable home for amputee athlete


A disabled man stands in front of the U.S. Paralympics Team Trials banner and wears a bronze medalCuban-born Lazaro Cordera, an avid swimmer, is used to overcoming challenges. As a cancer survivor, he and his parents relocated to the United States when he was 17 to seek medical treatment at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, to rehabilitate his left leg.

"After a few surgeries, the only solution was to amputate my leg," says Lozaro.

During his recovery, it became clear that Cordera and his family needed to find an affordable home where his special needs could be met. During a conversation with his social worker, the name Palm Villas came up.

Owned and managed by the Centro Campesino Farmworker Center, Palm Villas offers 91 affordable apartments with two on-site swimming pools. Rent is never more than 40 percent of a family's monthly income and typically ranges from $410 for a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment to $591 for a four-bedroom, two-bath unit. Centro Campesino, a NeighborWorks member, is a community development corporation that strengthens families and communities by providing affordable housing, homeownership support, economic advancement and educational opportunities to low- to moderate-income families throughout Central and South Florida.

A disabled man wearing a green shirt and black track pants stands in front of his new homeAfter hearing Lazaro's story, Centro Campesino quickly worked to expedite his application; however, since the development had a 99 percent occupancy rate, it took several years for the right unit to become available.

"After a few years of waiting, we finally got a call and we moved into the Palm Villas in 2012," says Lazaro. "Now, I have a better place to live and with all the necessary conditions that I require based on my problem."

Lazaro now is pursuing an architectural degree at Miami Dade College and following his dream to become a member of the U.S. Olympic swimming team.

"Thank you to Centro and Palm Villas for offering this low-income program. Due to this, my family is able to help me accomplish my swimming goals," he smiles.

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