Orange County Prepares to Build 4 New Affordable Housing Complexes to Help 525 Families
ORANGE COUNTY, Florida. – A project to bring four new affordable housing complexes to Orange County has reached its final stages as developers prepare to lead the way.
“We don’t have a housing crisis in Orange County, we have a housing affordability crisis,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said at a press conference in November 2019.
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Mitchell Glasser, director of the county’s Housing and Development division, said the project came after a three-year discussion on how to address the affordable housing crisis in Orange County. The project will ultimately help 525 families find decent and affordable housing, Glasser said.
In 2019, Orange County launched the Universal Housing Task Force, which recommended the county invest funds in affordable housing. In early 2020, the Orange County Council of Commissioners voted to invest $ 10 million in a housing trust fund each year. This money is now being poured into the four announced projects.
“We are the only one with a trust fund of this size,” Glasser said. “In Orange County we have taken the problem seriously and we are doing something about it.”
Orange County officials have approved four competitive development bids for each of the following projects:
Orlando-based Banyan Development Group
Emerald Villas Phase 3, based in Miami
Southwick Commons, based in Orlando
The Enclave at Canopy Park, based in Orlando
“They are all in different places,” Glasser said. “Some are in northwest Orange County, others closer to downtown or near Barnett Park. The emphasis is really on making it possible for people to find affordable housing close to their place of work and to have good access to services and transportation.
Glasser also said that with the additional hardships families may face during the pandemic, the county has challenged developers to lower barriers for 25% of their units so more families can qualify.
“For these units, if you had an eviction on your record, that wouldn’t necessarily prohibit you or allow you not to live there,” he said. “Do you have bad credit? He would look at things other than your credit report, not just the score.
It’s also a big return on investment for the county, Glasser said.
“All of these developments together are worth around $ 129 million,” he said. “We are investing $ 13 million.
But, he said, it’s an even bigger comeback for 525 families in need of affordable housing.
“This is not subsidized housing, this is not public housing, this is not Article 8,” Glasser said. “These are hard working people who live in our community like us and do the same things we do.”
Once construction begins on each project, Glasser said it would take around 18 months to complete.
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