West Orange Habitat for Humanity’s newest affordable-housing community is another step closer to reality after city commissioners approved a land-donation agreement for it.
Commissioners approved the agreement during their April 22 meeting, helping to pave the way forward for affordable housing in east Winter Garden.
The city owns the property at 275 Center Street and has been working with West Orange Habitat to develop four new homes there.
“This property’s been approved to build four new homes on it, and Habitat is working right now to finalize the plat,” Community Development Director Steve Pash said.
West Orange Habitat broke ground on the property in November. The four-home community will be called Criswell Court, named for Bill Criswell, a founding member and longtime supporter of West Orange Habitat.
This particular project is the result of a partnership between West Orange Habitat, the city of Winter Garden, Polis Institute, 321 Works and the residents of east Winter Garden.
“Habitat has done a wonderful job on these homes,” City Manager Mike Bollhoefer said of the plans for Criswell Court. “They’re gorgeous. (West Orange Habitat Executive Director Marilyn Hattaway’s) worked hard with several groups pre-qualifying people for the homes, and they’re very successful.”
“This is in the heart of where we’re really trying to start this whole redevelopment plan,” Commissioner Mark Maciel, who represents east Winter Garden, said.
Criswell Court will consist of two one-story cottage homes with 900 square feet, two bedrooms, one bath and a porch. There also will be two garden homes with three or four bedrooms and two bathrooms. The houses will be energy-efficient and will be home to four families who, according to West Orange Habitat, have demonstrated a housing need and qualify for affordable housing.
Hattaway thanked the commission and city staff for their partnership and willingness to help tackle the issue of lack of affordable housing.
“I just want to thank you all for your demonstrated help with us and partnership with affordable housing,” Hattaway said. “We have been working with stakeholders and residents in East Winter Garden … and other people who are entrenched in that community to preserve this historic and culturally diverse community. That’s what we want to do. But I do want to put out a special thanks to not only the commission and commissioners but also the mayor and also the staff. You’ve been so helpful through this. … It has really been a a pleasure to work with them, and they’ve worked so hard.
“We want to thank you for believing that everyone deserves a decent place to live,” Hattaway said. “That’s kind of where we are, and that’s our place. While other Habitats struggle with their municipalities, we have such an open-door policy, and I just can’t thank you all enough for that.”