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Affordable Homeownership – The possibilities are endless!


Have you been looking for a new home in Orange County? Do you need more room to accommodate a growing family? Or, has the time come to downsize but still have enough room to be comfortable?

Either way, I venture to say you have experienced some serious sticker shock. July’s median sold home price in Central Florida was an unbelievable $425,000 (Realtor.com), up from $399,500 this time last year. What was formerly a community where homes were more reasonable than elsewhere in the nation now has natives lamenting the prices and blaming rich newcomers. Whatever the reason, homeownership is out of reach for many who are struggling to make ends meet. 

That is especially true for families and individuals trying to buy starter homes. Perhaps your own adult children fall into this category of hardworking individuals who want to buy that $325,000 entry-level home in the County but can’t qualify for a mortgage without help. (The 2023 median starter sold home price per the American Enterprise Institute.) Where are these individuals supposed to turn to afford a first house that won’t cause them to be “cost-burdened,” or what some used to call “house poor.”

At Habitat Seminole-Apopka, we meet these neighbors every day and know the problem is more extensive than one may think if they haven’t been house or mortgage shopping lately. We are committed to increasing the inventory of affordable starter homes in our region. Why? Because we believe everyone deserves a decent place to call home. And because we see the strength, stability, self-reliance, and pride that comes with owning an affordable home, making our program a win-win for the entire community.  

One such neighbor is Ashley, a teacher with a master’s degree in education who teaches exceptional children at Winter Park High School in Orange County. This devoted educator has five sons, says teachers “need a second job” to survive, and never thought she could afford a home. Then came Habitat! 

Another is Angel, who is in the medical field. This mom of six, a college graduate, has worked for five years with orthopedic patients at one of the area’s largest hospitals and loves what she does. Lest we forget Michael, an inspector at a local orthotic company that makes cranial remolding helmets for babies and other support devices. He works hard to support his fiancé and two children and worked even harder to buy his Habitat home. 

I could go on about the teachers, CNAs, transportation supervisors, bank managers, nonprofit staff, and other professionals who would not have bought their home without a hand-up from Habitat Seminole-Apopka. However, they ALL had a housing need, were able to pay an affordable mortgage, and were willing to partner with us by completing sweat equity hours. They, in fact, worked darn hard to buy!

These individuals might even be your family or friends. As they travel their journey through our Homebuyers Program, Future Homebuyers learn to manage their finances, properly maintain their home, and understand the importance of civic engagement and giving back. We wish every neighbor were so invested and well-prepared! 

The parents among them finally have a legacy to pass on to their children. Many are breaking a cycle that has been in place for years if not generations. Their children are 25% more likely to graduate high school, 116% to graduate college, 59% to own their own home, and less likely to become teenage parents than those of renters. 

Building affordable homes and revitalizing neighborhoods has an economic impact. For example, this past year’s 16 Habitat homes, now on the tax rolls, generated a whopping $17.9 million of impact. That’s an impressive amount by any standard! 

Penny Seater, CEO - Habitat for Humanity Seminole/Apopka
Penny Seater, CEO - Habitat for Humanity Seminole/Apopka

Many in Orange County are in essential workforce positions. They, too, have the American dream of buying, yet often living paycheck-to-paycheck, aren’t sure how to get there. These are the people who teach our kids, serve disabled children, tend to our healthcare needs, police our streets, and more. These are also the people we assist in partnership with the community. 

I invite you to jump on our bandwagon. Should you have land to donate or sell, please let me know. If you would like to learn more about us, donate or volunteer, visit HabitatSeminoleApopka.org. There, you can also register for our FREE Financial Academy, a six-week online course for the ENTIRE community, and learn the tools you need to become financially stable. 

The possibilities are endless!

Homeownership, Habitat for Humanity, Apopka/Seminole County, Affordable Housing, Opinion


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