buen vecino housing renderingJust in case you missed our announcement across all local media — including in the Osceola News-Gazette—we are building a new senior housing complex in Buenaventura Lakes, with plans for completion in early 2024.

After an extensive (and competitive) national application process, the Osceola Council on Aging (OCOA) is the proud recipient of a $5.69 million dollar grant from the US Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD).

The project, Buen Vecino, will sit on nearly seven acres on Competition Drive; a one-story, 60-unit, one-bedroom apartment complex that includes a clubhouse to host congregate dining, an onsite community service coordinator for social activities, a computer lab, and an exercise facility.

Individual units will host around 600-square feet, with the option of one or two tenants per apartment. Leasing contracts will be for annual occupancy, with no application fee, and pets will be welcome.

The “project-based rent assisted” development will allow tenants to pay rent based on their individual income. The rent will be HUD subsidized, with residents paying only 30 percent of their income for rent. Low-income tenants who are 62 years or older will qualify for residency at Buen Vecino. To qualify, individuals must have an income at or below 50 percent of the area median income (AMI), which averages about $29,000 annually for one person.

“The primary mission of the OCOA Housing Management department is to advocate for and provide affordable housing to community residents. With rising rental costs, this has become increasingly difficult and why we are so excited to build this new a affordable housing development,” said OCOA Housing Director of Kissimmee Properties Angelica Rodriguez.

The Council will oversee, manage, and sponsor the project. In addition to the $5.69 million grant in capital funding from HUD, Osceola County will invest $3.8 million into the development, and the City of Kissimmee will make a $500,000 investment.

The Council underwent an extremely competitive grant cycle to become a recipient of this economic investment. Only 32 awards were given across the country; as a result, the Council is the only organization in Florida to receive monies in this grant cycle.

“The Osceola County Board of County Commissioners is committed to increasing the supply of affordable housing for residents, including our seniors who struggle financially on a fixed income. We are supporting this much needed project and it could not be in a better location,” said Commissioner Viviana Janer, Osceola County Board of Commissioners.

“I am incredibly excited about this new venture. We, the Board of Directors, have been working on the land for Osceola Council on Aging; we tried building on it but could not get the funds; we tried selling it but couldn’t find a buyer. We waited, and now have the funds to build and help our seniors. I pray this is only the beginning of great things coming to Osceola and our City,” said Mayor Olga Gonzalez.

The construction for Buen Vecino will begin in the first quarter of 2023. The application process for tenants will begin the end of 2023, as long as construction proceeds as planned.

I, along with the entire OCOA organization cannot thank Osceola County and the City of Kissimmee enough for their support in this endeavor. It takes a village to sustain our community and our social service organization could not be as effective in supporting Osceola residents without the support of both the City and the County.

The OCOA’s mission has always been to enable independence and self sufficiency. This project shows our unwavering commitment and support to our senior population. We are excited to add Buen Vecino to the OCOA family.

In closing, this is just one of many exciting announcements happening during our 50th year of service; so, as a reminder, mark your calendars for our 50th Anniversary Gala celebration on Saturday, Oct. 1. For more information on tickets, sponsorships, or advertising opportunities, contact Olivera, at oliverab@osceola-coa.com, or 407-0933-9534.

To see more guest columns by Wendy, go to https://osceolagenerations.org/councils-corner/

Published Wednesday, August 17, 2022