Orlando approves plan to build affordable housing on Orange Center Boulevard

Heated debate spans several hours

By Clay LePard - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - The Orlando City Council approved plans to redevelop a neighborhood and expand affordable housing in the area. 

The proposal submitted by Hannibal Community Land Trust called for the city to sell a nearly 5 acre lot on Orange Center Boulevard near the intersection of Tampa Avenue and to be converted into 30 townhomes and 28 apartments, as well as retail space. Many of those units were considered affordable housing, and residents would purchase and own their own townhomes, but collectively lease the land under the building. 

Renderings of a proposed development in Orlando of three bedroom townhomes. Forty percent of those will be open to any income bracket, 60 percent will be set aside for low to middle-income residents.

Beth Pemberton lives down the street from the proposed development and has seen the neighborhood build around her.

"They got rid of all the boarded up windows, apartments," she said. "You know these house prices are going to rise. You have these brand new apartments." 

A recent report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition detailed how Orlando has the most severe shortage of affordable housing for renters. 

However, at Monday's City Council meeting, many were upset with the idea of a community land trust. 

"We were given that land because we weren't allowed to live past Division Street," one resident said. "The American dream is to own the home and the property it sits on."

A map of a proposed affordable housing complex submitted by Hannibal Community Land Trust.

"I'm disappointed this has turned into a controversy at all," Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer added. 

The discussion and hearing spanned about five hours, before the Orlando City Council voted in favor of the sale and approved the plan. 

A town hall to discuss the Orlando area's affordable housing problem will take place on May 15 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at One Blue Real Estate, 5671 S. Orange Ave. in Pine Castle. 

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