Orange County officials celebrated the grand opening Thursday of an affordable housing complex designed to help homeless families return to stability.

Goldenrod Pointe opened in March and now has a waiting list, highlighting the dire need for this type of housing in Central Florida, according to Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs.

“This is a national problem that will take a national solution,” said Jacobs, during the grand opening tour. “Our children are incredibly resilient and incredibly vulnerable. Obviously as a mom of four children, this is so personally important that we give our children a place to invite their friends home to play.”

Jacobs told about her son’s friend who was homeless but she never knew it until she helped open their Habitat for Humanity home. Even then, she said the mother was embarrassed about the stigma attached to being homeless.

The 70 unit-complex on Goldenrod Road includes 14 units reserved for homeless families. Qualified families pay low or no rent and receive help from social workers finding employment. Once they become stable, they can stay in the apartment and their rent is based upon their salary.

The spacious apartments included stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and green energy savings.

“These apartments were designed for situational or episodic homelessness, where families in transition don’t have the money to put down for deposits and first month’s rent,” said Scott Culp, executive vice president of Atlantic Housing Partners, an affordable apartment builder based in Winter Park.

The homeless families could pay anywhere from zero to $300 a month for the apartments, depending on their size and family income. A family of four would have to make less than 60 percent of the medium family income in Orange County, or $36,000, to qualify.

Orange County provided $1 million of INVEST funds along with $1 million of State Housing Initiatives Program (SHIP) funds to the project to expand affordable housing in Orange County.

Twenty percent of the one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom are set aside for homeless families.

Orange County has allocated $5 million of local INVEST funds to be leveraged with other public and private resources in order to create new affordable units for low-and very low-income households.

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