Counties scout for new affordable housing sites

Central Florida officials on Friday looked at areas ripe for building and redeveloping affordable housing that does more than connect with bus routes.

At a regional affordable-housing workshop in Orange County, William O’Dell, director of the University of Florida’s Shimberg Center, identified Central Florida’s “areas of opportunity” that could give low-income residents access to everything from higher-performing schools and safer neighborhoods to transportation and jobs.

“Typically what we find in this area is that you have locations that are rated very high for accessibility but low for opportunities,” said O’Dell, whose group assisted local governments in rethinking their approach to housing residents in a region marked by some of the lowest wages in the nation.

More than 100 people filled the chambers of the Orange County Administration Center for the workshop.

Affordable-housing officials from elsewhere in the region primarily outlined where growth is slated to occur during the next several decades and the need to consider everything from building more affordable apartments near SunRail stations to establishing zoning options that encourage homeowners to rent portions of their homes in order to generate more household income and also provide needed housing.

Mitchell Glasser, community-development manager for Orange County, cited this week’s opening of Goldenrod Pointe Apartments at 556 Solidago Drive, Winter Park, as providing 70 units for low or very-low income tenants and 14 units slated for residents who had been homeless. With land donated by the county, the project is a model that might lead to more mixed-income apartments with relatively open doors to applicants who have had evictions and low credit scores, he added.

With its workforce dependent on traveling to low-wage, service-sector jobs, Osceola County stood out among Central Florida counties facing challenges.

O’Dell and others identified…

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