For many, the dream of home ownership has always been out of reach, but for families in Apopka affordable housing is now closer than ever.
A partnership between Habitat Greater Orlando, Habitat Seminole Apopka, Homes in Partnership, and Orange County will provide affordable housing for families who meet certain income, needs, volunteer, and training requirements. The partnership will ensure the creation of the New Horizons, in South Apopka where 56 new homes will be constructed and sold to qualifying low-income households.
“Home ownership can be overwhelming, but we will make it as easy as possible,” said Liz Alicea-Madera, the Director of Family Services at The Habitat Greater Orlando at the Apopka presentation at The John Bridges Center last night. ““We ask that you are willing to do sweat equity at houses, or re-stores, or our offices.”
The New Horizons community will be placed where the former Hawthorne Village once stood. The Hawthorne Village property was acquired by Homes in Partnership in order to build these new homes. Groundbreaking is expected to occur in February 2017.
“We are also looking for input from the community as to how we want the New Horizons to look,” said County Commissioner Bryan Nelson. “Anyone who wants to contribute in any way to our mission of providing affordable housing is welcome to join us as well to learn about the numerous ways you can help families in our community.”
Habitat for Humanity has served more than 4,500 men, women, and children in our community by painting and repairing over 200 homes and building and rehabilitating more than 280 homes in our area.
Habitat seeks to eliminate substandard or poverty housing and develop thriving communities by providing affordable home ownership for families in need.
Alleviating overcrowding is also considered as a qualifying need. Families temporarily living with other family members or friends may also qualify. A need for housing can also be shown if a person or family is currently living in a government subsidized or unaffordable house.
As part of the program, families must also show an ability to pay for maintenance, mortgage payments, and utilities. The family is required to have a stable income that falls between 30%-75% of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) median income, for a family of 4 the minimum income is $17,550 and the max income is $43,875. Other factors, such as budgeting, delinquent debt, and bankruptcy, hindering a family’s ability to pay are also taken in consideration. And during the month of August (the deadline is August 31st), they are accepting pre-applications, which is a new first step for Habitat.
Alicea-Mendes, now in her ninth year with Habitat, explains the idea behind pre-qualification.
“It’s just like a relationship,” she said. “We have to get to know each other. That’s what the pre-qualification is for.”
Families must agree to partner with Habitat for Humanity. This includes at least 300 sweat equity hours for a single head of household or 500 hours for a dual head of household. There are several ways for applicants to provide sweat equity, including working on construction sites and at events such as the Home Builders Blitz or Women Build. Another way to volunteer is to work at one of the Habitat for Humanity Restore locations. Another partnership agreement is applicants must currently be working and/or living in Orange County for the past year. Applicants must also be legal US residents and must save for closing costs.
“When you work for something, you appreciate it more,” said Alicia-Mendes. “And your kids will see you doing it and learn a great lesson.”