With the cost of housing continuing to increase in and around Osceola County, many families and individuals are finding it more and more challenging to find attainable or affordable housing, especially low-income seniors, who are already struggling with inflation and increasing rental expense as they try to make ends meet on fixed incomes.
The Osceola Council On Aging announced Friday, that it would be receiving a $5.69 Million HUD grant for an affordable housing project in BVL called Buen Vecino, which translates to “good neighbor.” The affordable apartments project, scheduled to open in 2023, will benefit Osceola low-income seniors who the Osceola Council on Aging serves for housing, food, and services.
Once completed, Buen Vecino will be a one story, 60 one-bedroom apartment development for the low-income older population, 62 years of age or older that make less than $29,000 per year.
In addition to the HUD grant, District 2 Osceola County Commissioner Viviana Janer announced that the county would be allocating $3.8 Million to the affordable housing project for seniors.
“I am so excited to be here, as this project is a long, long time in coming. The Osceola County Board of County Commissioners is committed to increasing the supply of affordable housing for our residents, including our seniors who struggle financially on a fixed income. We are supporting this much needed project and it couldn’t be located in a better place in Osceola County,” said Commissioner Viviana Janer, Osceola County Board of Commissioners. “Keeping these projects moving forward is a key priority for me, and I am pleased to partner with the Osceola Council on Aging because of their commitment to seniors in our community who urgently need affordable housing.”
City of Kissimmee has also pledged to support the Buen Vecino project by pledging $500,000. “Good things come to those who wait on the Lord, and look what’s happening, we’re going to have apartments that are going to help our seniors. The Council On Aging has been doing a tremendous job. I’m glad to be on their board and that we can work together, and I’m glad that we can join the county in helping,” Kissimmee Mayor Olga Gonzalez said during the news conference.
The housing project will be developed on six acres that will include a Community Area/Club House to host Congregate Meals and activities for the seniors. Rent will be subsidized by HUD with tenants paying 30% of their income toward rent. The Osceola Council on Aging is the sponsor and landowner of Buen Vecino.
“We have so many people moving down from the North and up from the Caribbean that we have seen a growing community here in Osceola County. That’s led to rising property values, which for property owners, two thirds of which are in the district, is a good thing. But, a third of our constituents, are renting, and rents – sadly, are on the rise, US Congressman Darren Soto shared during the Council On Aging announcement. “This particularly affects our seniors.”
Groundbreaking and construction will begin in first quarter of 2023 and the application process for rentals will start toward the end of 2023 for the apartments.
“We are beyond blessed to be the only organization in the State of Florida to receive this grant for our affordable housing project because of the need in our community,” said Wendy Ford, CEO of the OCOA. “We are committed to our senior population, especially when it comes to providing affordable housing in Osceola County.”