Orlando residents question city's idea of 'affordable' amid rising rent costs

City leaders say they're working to add affordable housing options

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PARRAMORE, Fla. – City leaders say they're making strides to add more affordable housing throughout Orlando, including working with developers to create more housing options for people of all income levels. 

News 6 reported on phase one of the Parramore Oaks property that opened two weeks ago. City leaders said many of the units are affordable, and they've been adding more affordable single-family homes throughout the area.

"We would not invest $1 in a residential project that does not have an affordable component," said Thomas Chatmon Jr., the director of the downtown development board.

Chatmon said the city is committed to making sure everyone has access to quality and affordable housing, and he understands the concerns many residents have.

"Holistically, we’re looking at Parramore. We know there’s a need. We’re trying to invest that need," Chatmon said.

However, many Parramore residents said what the city considers affordable, isn't affordable for them.

At Parramore Oaks a one-bedroom apartment starts at $627 and a three-bedroom unit starts $875, according to the complex website.

"I’m trying to figure out, what is affordable? What do they think is affordable?" Jewell Ruth said.

Ruth lives in Parramore, a few blocks away from Camping World Stadium, and said her rent continues to rise. She said she's happy to see new growth in Parramore and nearby downtown Orlando, but being a single mom, she fears what’s now being considered affordable may force her and many of her neighbors out of the area.

"It’s expensive. You really have to budget," Ruth said.

Neal Crosier owns a popcorn shop in the heart of Parramore. He’s aware of the rent rising in the area, even for business owners. He said, on a positive note, the new growth has been a plus for his business. 

"Definitely a win," Crosier said. "[We're] seeing more people come through the store, especially on game day and stuff like that. So, yes, I think the changes are very good." 

Officials with the city of Orlando released the following statement about its ongoing efforts to address affordable housing throughout the city: ​​​​​

"The City of Orlando is committed to ensuring that every person, regardless of economic status, has access to quality housing that is safe and affordable and has been working to develop residents  short and long-term strategies to expand the city's housing inventory for at all income levels. To accomplish this goal, the City of Orlando has and continues to make significant investments and forge new partnerships to develop and rehab quality housing units for our residents.  

The City of Orlando and CRA have committed more than $19 million to increase our inventory of housing for residents at all income levels within Downtown Orlando. This includes partnering to build 467 new multifamily housing units, rehabilitating 113 residential rental units and constructing 64 new single family housing units.  

In the last five years, the city has invested or committed more than $38 million to create or preserve housing options for residents at all income levels. This includes the construction or rehabilitation of nearly 1,500 multifamily units and the construction of more than 150 new residences (single family residences and duplexes) that provide homeownership opportunities for residents interested in pursuing the American dream of homeownership."

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