Disney and Universal plan to build affordable housing in Florida: NPR
Universal Parks and Resorts
Anyone looking for affordable housing in Central or South Florida is off to a wild ride – and that’s why two Florida theme parks are pledging about 100 acres of land to mitigate the housing crisis.
In places like Orlando and Tampa, rent has risen faster than almost any other area in the United States The average rent in Orlando jumped 21% in just one year, from 2020 to 2021.
Walt Disney World plans to build more than 1,300 homes on nearly 80 acres of land in Orange County (which includes Orlando), but it adds that the plan is still in its early stages and requires regulatory approvals.
“The development will provide residents with a variety of affordable and accessible home choices,” mentioned Rena Langley, Walt Disney World senior vice president for corporate communications and public affairs, said. The new units will be close to schools and Disney’s new Flamingo Crossings retail and dining complex, she added.
Universal Parks and Resorts said it has “pledged 20 acres of prime land in the heart of Orlando’s tourist corridor to be used for 1,000 affordable/mixed-income housing units”.
Universal’s plan lists a number of amenities, ranging from a tuition-free preschool, community gardens and swimming pools to on-site medical offices and a transportation hub.
Like Disney’s plan, Universal’s proposal still needs county government approval. Both companies work with development companies on their projects.
Gregg Newton/AFP via Getty Images
The nation’s affordable housing crisis has been particularly acute in central and south Florida in recent years, and the state’s housing supply has not kept pace with population growth. The pandemic has made matters worse, as spikes in house prices and rents have far outpaced income gains.
“We have seen a bottleneck in housing supply and an increase in renters over the last decade – which has been very pronounced – and a corresponding decline in home ownership,” said Florida housing market expert Andrew Ross. WLRN member station last November. “The factors that have stabilized the housing market for decades have become somewhat unsettled and unaddressed.”