Affordable housing is a complex challenge that is affecting most cities across the United States. Nationwide, rental rates have increased faster than wages. Central Florida is no exception, as more than 40% of households are cost-burdened. That means they pay more than 30% of their income toward housing costs and could benefit from some type of affordable housing. Once a vibrant African American community, the Parramore Heritage Neighborhood has seen a decline in homeownership due to disinvestment and a lack of decent and affordable for-sale products.
Regardless of economic status, the overall plan is to make certain that every person has access to quality housing that is safe and affordable. The city’s housing department, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and I have been developing short- and long-term strategies to expand the city’s housing inventory for residents at all income levels. With steadfast and passionate support, the CRA is tackling the decline in home ownership in the Parramore Heritage Neighborhood, located just west of Orlando’s downtown core.
In August 2018, the CRA completed construction on three of 17 homes now under development. The three homes were appraised with a value of $205,000. In an effort to increase owner occupancy and ensure that the CRA homes are affordable to first-time homebuyers, we have implemented the inception of the CRA Down Payment Assistance Program. The program offers grants up to $100,000 to qualified applicants. Making sure that equity and social justice are paramount, we have been instrumental in designing a program that lowers barriers and impediments to affordable housing by ensuring that eligibility requirements are accessible to all. To date, the program has provided approximately $120,000 in financial assistance to two qualified homebuyers.
Our arduous work and commitment to affordable housing does not stop. Sharing the vision of restoring the American Dream of home ownership to Parramore’s residents, we are closely collaborating with the city, the CRA, the Orlando Housing Authority (OHA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to offer an additional 41 homeownership opportunities by completing a long dormant HOPE VI project called Carver Park. I see the construction of those 41 homeownership units in the Parramore Heritage Neighborhood as the penultimate step in the revitalization of the area.
Additionally, the first part of Parramore – Creative Village opened with the new Amelia Court Apartments, a workforce-affordable housing community directly across from the Valencia-UCF site. Along with Mayor Buddy Dyers’ leadership, Amelia Court has 256 apartment homes with rental rates across a wide range of affordability. They officially opened in July.
There is so much more to come: The work continues.
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