Two New Affordable Housing Projects Set to GetUnderway in Pine Hills
The Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to award $13.18 million to developers to build four different multi-family affordable housing developments in Orange County. Two of these developments will be constructed in Pine Hills. The $13 million investment is the first from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Program, which was established by Mayor Demings’ Housing for All Task Force. The housing dollars will provide financial assistance to advance and facilitate the new construction of affordable, multi-family rental housing with an emphasis on serving low and very low-income households.
“Easing the affordable housing crisis is critical to the overall health and welfare of Pine Hills,” according to Sam Weekley, Executive Director, Pine Hills Neighborhood Improvement District. “We’ve been working on a rescue plan workforce project, the impetus being to create careers for people living in Pine Hills, but you need affordable housing to do this" continues Weekly.
Funding for the allocated to the two Pine Hills developments includes $5 million for the Orlando-based Banyan Development Group as part of a $31.5 million project. Banyan will build 156 units in a multi-family complex for low-income households. The site sits at the northeast corner of West Colonial Drive and North Pine Hills Road, a few blocks west of the entrance to Barnett Park. Developers pledged to set aside 39 units for very-low-income households.
$4.5 million was awarded to Miami-based Emerald Villas for a $21.6 million project to build Emerald Villas Phase Three, a 90-unit multi-family complex for low-income households The complex will be adjacent to an affordable housing community for 55-and-older seniors and close to Evans High School in Pine Hills. Developers pledged to set aside 23 units for very low-income households.
Weekley admits there is more work to be done, but he is emboldened by the fact the community is much bigger and more engaged than ever—and that residents are sincerely appreciative of the things the Improvement District is trying to accomplish.
Weekly adds “Residents are always thanking me, even if we don’t get exactly what we want as far as funding is concerned,” he asserted. “It’s about the effort, the good intentions of trying to make things better. People want to revitalize this community, and they care deeply about that. These housing developments are definitely a major step in the right direction.”