Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill got emotional Tuesday, as she described living across the street from an empty lot where the city will build three single-family homes.
Hill said she grew up as “a nappy-headed girl in Parramore.”
“Life for me ain’t been no crystal stairwell,” she said. “It’s been full of tacks, splinters, and boards turned up where there was no carpet.”
Hill left Parramore and returned to the area after she was injured in the Navy. She said she fell in love with a drug dealer.
“I became a street pharmacist who caused pain and torment to this neighborhood,” she said. “The prodigal daughter has come home to make it well again.”
She told her story to enforce the need for affordable, quality housing. This year, Metro Orlando ranked third from the bottom in the nation for its supply of affordable housing.
Hill joined Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer in a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday for the first of three homes the city will build in Parramore. Three single-family homes will be built on Short Street and sold at market value, while the remaining seven will be affordable homes for low-income families.
The homes are part of the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency’s (CRA) plan to build homes and apartments so everyone can afford to live in downtown Orlando.
Thomas Chatmon, Jr., executive director of the CRA, said they are not ready to disclose the price of the Short Street homes, which will be ready for occupancy in mid-April. He said the prices will be based on the market rate for three-bedroom homes in the neighborhood, which is two blocks west of Interstate 4.
Dr. Marion Buckingham lives in the nearby Landings at Carver Park in rent subsidized apartments, which she said she waited six years to get into. The retired family physician had a stroke and can no longer practice medicine.
“I’m excited to see this coming into our neighborhood,” Buckingham said. “Parramore is so impoverished and this will help improve the area.”
Contractor R L Burns, Inc. won the $2 million contract to build the 10 single-family homes.
Four of the homes will be built near the new Academic Center for Excellence elementary school in Parramore and the location of the three remaining homes have yet to be determined, said Walter Hawkins, Orlando’s director of urban development.
No interest loans of $10,000 to $20,000 will be made to help qualified buyers afford the single-family homes. The money will come from the CRA, whose goal is to redevelop the predominantly African-American community, which has a dwindling residential population, along with high unemployment and crime rates.