A Focus on the Housing Issue in Florida Cities: Orlando

Parramore Oaks Phase II, a mixed-use development in the historically Black area of Parramore in Orlando, is scheduled to open this year.

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of Florida Courier stories about the housing outlook in major cities in Florida. The story this week focuses on the Orlando area.

In what has become a recurring theme in the discussion on viable homeownership, housing disparity and the uncomfortable issue of homelessness, it becomes glaringly apparent that there are gaping holes in the system.

With eviction notices on the rise and rental prices slated for substantial increases, the existing rental market continues to present an ever-shrinking element. This is not only troubling – it also presents an increasingly dangerous situation for many who are currently in the marketplace if they do not own or already occupy.

There are several current projects that will, hopefully, make a difference.

However, with the growing need, more are definitely welcomed.

Housing First

Dewey Wooden, director of Behavioral Health at the Health Care Center for the Homeless in Orlando, stated that “The largest and most complex contributor to homelessness in every American city is directly related to the lack of affordable housing.’’

When asked if there were any substantial projects currently in place to address this issue, Wooden responded, “In 2015, the concept of Housing First was implemented in Central Florida, a philosophy of reducing the barriers to housing someone with housing readiness (e.g. must be sober, must have an income, no criminal record, must accept housing where the system puts you, etc.,’’ he explained.

One project in the works is Parramore Oaks Phase II. This Orlando development will add 90 units to the 121-unit development located at the corner of Parramore Avenue and Conley Street. The Parramore area was originally developed as a segregated African American community.

Construction of this phase in the development is scheduled to be completed with the new seven story (190-unit mixed use) affordable apartments development sometime this year.

Parramore is home to the long-standing Wells Built Museum of African American History & Culture, the recently renamed named Kia Center (home to the Orlando Magic basketball team), as well as the Orlando City MLS soccer and Exploria Stadium.

This bustling area offers an assortment of eateries serving soul food and vibrant and colorful street art. The area also shares the University of Central Florida’s downtown campus and is home to Florida A&M University’s College of Law.

The Orlando Market

Orlando continues to grow at a record-setting pace and efforts to keep up with the available rental market is in question.

The potential for homeownership is a daunting task but one which municipal officials are taking seriously, recognizing the civic responsibility to offer affordable housing to the community at large.

The current population in greater Orlando sits at 2,609,000 and growing. Of that population, 36.7% is comprised of homeowners with 63.3% of Orlando dwellers currently renting.

A recent Housing Market Report for Orange County shows a seller’s market.

This means home prices tend to be higher and that homes will sell faster.

That’s good news for those sitting in the seller position. Not so much for potential buyers.

The median price for a three bedroom/two-bathroom home at 1,500 to 1,700 square feet inOrlando is around $369,000. That’s an upward change of approximately 4.8% from last year and includes areas like Belle Isle, Winter Garden-Ocoee, Greater Orlando and Winter Park.

The actual number of homes for sale in December of 2023 to January 2024 increased by 5.6% with new construction offering a large percentage of the available marketplace.

Another solid statistic says that more than 67% of the homes sold below the asking price in January. Even when there are deals out there, a potential homeowner must qualify to be able to take advantage of this market.

Disney Affordable Housing

Disney World also has slated to build 80 acres of affordable housing just a few miles from the Magic Kingdom. This development, when completed, will contain approximately 1,400 housing units featuring single-family homes.

Built on 80 acres of land owned by Disney, this newly constructed development is open to applicants within certain income levels, including many of Disney’s own employees. This development is being built by The Michaels Organization, a well-known builder.

Located near the Flamingo Crossings Town Center, the development is targeted for 2024 with the first units slated for completion in 2026.

Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World Resort, stated, “Walt Disney World has cared for and invested in our com- munity for more than 50 years. We’re committed to being part of this solution, which is slated to bring more attainable housing to Central Florida,” he said.

This project isn’t Disney’s only housing developments in the works. The company launched a new Story Living by Disney business last year with plans to build master planned residential communities around the U.S. Each community will include some neighborhoods with specific designations for residents who are 55 and up.

Rents Tripling

The rental market in Orlando, as well as throughout most major cities of the United States is equally challenging both in terms of pricing and availability. Increases in pricing have forced many renters out of the marketplace with almost nowhere to go. The numbers on the potential building of low-cost rental developments are not substantial as developers have their sites on projects with a higher return on investment.

The average employee earning some- where around $30,000 is caught in the crossfire of a rising cost of living without a referendum on what is the most basic of necessities – housing.

A study from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies found that 22.4 million renter households, or at least half of all renters in 2022 nationwide, were spending more than 30% of their income on rent.

The findings also revealed that the actual number of affordable units with rents under $600 per month dropped to 7.2 million that year. This represented 2.1 million fewer affordable units than were available a decade earlier.

Organizations like Habitat for Humanity are committed to the building of low income, moderately priced single-family homes. Unfortunately, they are not available in every state and very often are not able to obtain the necessary land and/or space needed within major urban environments.

With those requirements in place, the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida was able to provide relief to those eligible in terms of meeting the requirements. The program is still available.

Congressional lawmakers are currently working on a bill that is slated to expand a federal program which would award tax credits to housing developers who set aside units for low-income tenants.

Coming up: Going from rent to homeownership. Programs that are available and requirements to participate.

Source:

https://www.flcourier.com/news/a-focus-on-the-housing-issue-in-florida-cities/article_9d763bfe-1f33-11ef-8142-df94a937599b.html

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