ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A groundbreaking took place on Wednesday for what will soon be permanent housing for Orlando's homeless. A total of 77 apartment units at the site will be renovated by Ability Housing, a Jacksonville-based nonprofit organization.
The former owner of the property, Wayne Densch Charities, donated the 4.3-acre site near Eatonville to the Florida Hospital Foundation. The foundation, in turn, is leasing the property for $1 a year to Ability Housing.
Existing buildings on the property will undergo the $4.8 million renovation. Orange County is also contributing $2 million to the project.
Wayne Densch Charities first bought the property and the accompanying apartments in 1998 and converted them into transitional housing for the homeless. A woman who once had a substance abuse problem and stayed at the center said it helped her get back on track.
"They rescued me. 17 years I moved here, to a place I could call home. I lived here, I was able to get the counseling I needed. I went to school. It just changed my life," said Yvette Tarver-Ricks, a former resident.
"It's permanent housing like you and I have. So as long as they're in compliance with the lease, they can stay. We have found with our properties there's two to four years, and then people want to move onto other housing," said Shannon Nazworth with Ability Housing.
Construction is expected to start late summer of 2016 and will take about a year to complete.