Released By Osceola County Community Outreach/Public Information Office
On April 29, “blessed” read the words over the window to the balcony of the two-bed room apartment Yamila Figueroa and her daughter, Countess, call home at Cameron Preserve, which celebrated its official opening that day.
After living in a hotel for more than a year after their Central Florida mobile home lost its roof in Hurricane Irma, the 100-unit affording rental housing complex was a prayer answered for Figueroa and her teen-aged daughter, who is so happy to have her own personal space.
Cameron Preserve is an innovative public-private partnership between Osceola County the Parramore Construction Company, Inc. and the Florida Housing Finance Corporation to build affordable rental units and transition families out of hotels and homelessness.
“By working with the marketplace to create rental spaces that are financially-affordable for our families AND financially-stable for landlords, we’re able to grow our inventory of Permanent Supportive Housing and fill crucial gaps in affordable housing supply,” Commission Chairwoman Cheryl Grieb said.
“Not only does this approach work for families – especially for those transitioning from hotel living situations – it makes sense for our commercial builders and property owners. Most important, Cameron Preserve provides a wonderful sense of place and space for our families and children… a place that is safe, clean and secure, and where vulnerable families can re-build for the future.”
Removing the land cost with the County’s contribution of approximately 9 acres, improved the development’s initial feasibility and ongoing financial stability, officials said.
Ninety percent of Cameron Preserve’s units are 2- and 3-bedroom units. Each unit has a stackable washer and dryer, stove, and refrigerator. The community building will have computers and printers, as well as classroom space. A number of resident programs will be offered such as employment assistance programs, health and wellness services, financial management programs, and on-site food programs.
For Figueroa, the costs associated with a traditional apartment (first and last month’s rent, plus a security deposit) were a barrier. At Cameron Preserve rents range from $355 – $898 depending on unit size and family income. The project’s location near U.S. Highway 192 means transportation, employment opportunities, schools, shopping recreational facilities are all close by.
Grieb acknowledged Vice Chairwoman Viviana Janer, who brought the idea for the project to the commission. In 2015 the County purchased the property as part of a “Housing First” strategic initiative that prioritizes providing permanent housing to people.
“In terms of an overall Cameron Preserve champion and advocate, I’m not sure anyone can match the sense of joy and accomplishment that Commissioner Janer feels,” Grieb said. “For her, this has been a labor of love…. She dreamed the dream and kept everyone moving in the right direction. In accordance with our 2019 State of Osceola County theme ‘Growing Osceola’s Future,’ Cameron Preserve offers residents the chance to stabilize their lives and feel like they are part of the community.”
The total investment in Phase 1 was $21.4 million with tax credits being a key element that made the development possible. Cameron Preserve’s long-term affordability is insured for the next 20 years, officials said.