Here’s how affordable housing is built in Central Florida

Median home cost in Central Florida is $315,000, study finds

SANFORD, Fla. – A new study from the Orlando Regional Realtor Association shows the median cost of a house in Central Florida is $315,000, driven by the booming population growth even through the pandemic.

That growth is also driving up rent prices, now averaging $1536 as reported by CoStar group — making finding affordable housing or rent nearly impossible for those who are either on fixed or lower incomes, like Thellis Houck.

“I had to go from apartment to apartment and they were way too much, $1,500 dollars a month, I can’t afford that,” Houck said.

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Being a senior, Houck’s only income is her late husband’s social security. She had trouble finding a place she can afford, until she reached out to Seminole County.

She is now one of the first residents in Wendover properties’ Burlington Cove where she pays $807 dollars a month in rent.

“I love it,” she said holding up family pictures she plans to put up in her living room, “It was such a relief to get here.”

The property is income-based, affordable housing built by a private developer using mostly federal, state and local funds to get the project built, as explained by Ryn Von Weller, managing director of development at Wendover Housing Partners based out of Seminole County.

“We are all aware that affordable housing is always in need, especially here in Central Florida,” Von Weller said. “There is a lot more that goes into it other than big thoughts and big ideas, it’s a much more difficult process to get one of these projects funded.”

For example, Wendover is currently building a new family-affordable housing complex in Sanford called Monroe Landing and there are three different funding sources for that $16.5 million project: $11.5 million in tax credit equity, $1.26 million from the Orlando Housing Authority and a $2.8 million permanent loan through Neighborhood Lending Partners.

For most affordable housing projects, Von Weller said the main source of funding comes from Federal tax credits — which are allocated by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. But Von Weller said there’s not a lot of money to build several complexes at a time.

“The most you can get is one per county, per year in the State of Florida and not every county gets the award,” he said. “The large counties — if you look at Hillsborough Orange, Pinellas, Palm Beach — those counties are guaranteed to get one, but the median counties like Seminole sometimes get zero.”

Von Weller said there are other sources of funding if local governments commit to investing in affordable housing as Orange County has through its Housing for All Task Force. The county creating the Orange County Housing Trust Fund investing $10 million each year for projects just like this. Because of that Wendover is able to build more affordable housing developments.

“It is a never-ending need,” Von Weller said. “We are always going to be in need of more affordable housing.”

Here’s a list of the current projects being built by Wendover Housing Partners, also tasked with building Universal Resorts affordable housing unit along International Drive.