BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Financial experts are predicting an avalanche of foreclosures in Puerto Rico this year as a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria and a high poverty rate.

  • $700 million transformation project is broken up into four phases
  • 550 homes will be purchased in phase one
  • Properties will be fitted with 140 mph hurricane windows and solar panels

A Brevard Real Estate company is launching a project next week that could help create affordable homes on the island.

"In 2008, the housing decline started affecting the economy in Puerto Rico and obviously we had Hurricane Maria," said Brenda Plocharczyk, co-founder of Arch Real Estate Holdings.

That led to many losing their homes on an island where 44 percent live in poverty.

Last January, Black Knight, an analytics firm, reported more than 82,000 homeowners fell behind on their mortgages.

"Pre-Maria and Post-Maria you can very much see the differences in the need for these properties," said Kim Fernandez, co-founder of Arch Real Estate Holdings. "It is a fact that we need to do something for the island."

Fernandez was born and raised in Puerto Rico. His business partners plan on getting those on the island in their own homes by renovating hundreds of foreclosed houses and renting them at affordable rates.

"The houses are sitting there vacant," said Plocharczyk.

The $700 million project is broken up in four phases.

The first phase is to purchase 550 homes with $85 million they plan on getting from investors.

"We’re outfitting all the properties with 140 mph hurricane windows. In addition to that we’re making sure in a structural perspective, the structure side of the properties fit the same building codes we have in Florida today,” explained Plocharczyk.

Another addition will be to add solar panels.

"That way they’re not reliant on the already fragile power grid that exists in Puerto Rico," she continued.

Despite the current bleak outlook, Fernandez believes the future of the island is bright. He has noticed more businesses, like his, reinvest in Puerto Rico.

"I see it going in the positive and in five, 10 years being even better than it was Pre-Maria," said Fernandez.

He will have the house keys waiting for anyone moving there.