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Orlando REALTORS® break ground on veterans housing project

Wednesday, April 29, 2015  
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Local army veteran Keon Madison, his wife, and their four children are one step closer to the dream of homeownership thanks to the efforts of Orlando REALTORS®.

The Florida Real Estate Foundation, ORRA's charitable arm, officially broke ground on its veterans housing project on April 29 amid great fanfare. The groundbreaking ceremony capped nearly two years of behind-the-scenes work by the foundation as it transforms land donated by the City of Orlando and funds donated by major grantors into Heroes' Commons at Jefferson Park.

The foundation will be donating its first Heroes' Commons home mortgage-free to Keon when it is completed this fall, followed by five additional homes mortgage-free to other income-qualified veterans (visit the FREF website to contribute cash, materials, or in-kind services).

“We can never repay our military men and women for their sacrifice and service, but we can hope that the gift of homeownership can be a small token of our appreciation,” says Orlando REALTOR® and Florida Real Estate Foundation Chairman Beverly Evans.

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The Heroes’ Commons at Jefferson Park “village” of six single-family, ADA compliant detached homes is located in the Parramore neighborhood off Benson Avenue, on the corner of Polk Street and Jefferson Street. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer delivered a speech at the groundbreaking about the importance of the project for the Parramore community and helped turn the dirt.

“Being a city for everyone means ensuring Orlando is a place where individuals and families of all types of economic status can not just live but can enjoy life,” says Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.  “I am proud to join with the Florida Real Estate Foundation to further our efforts in providing our residents with access to affordable, safe housing as we break ground on the first house to be built as part of the Heroes’ Commons at Jefferson Park.”

Each house in the Heroes' Commons at Jefferson Park collaborative project is designed to incorporate unique architectural elements and flexible floorplans that can fit the needs of an ill, injured, or wounded veteran, if necessary. The homes are energy efficient, and built with environmentally friendly materials and appliances. The architects used the concept of shared garages to maximize the green space within the project.

All homeowners must meet certain financial counseling and income requirements, and are chosen by a selection committee. The veteran homeowners and their families will receive access to supportive services to ease the transition from military life and into the role of a successful new homeowner.

Housing and Neighborhood Development Services of Central Florida (HANDS) is partnering with FREF to qualify all potential homeowners and to ensure the requirements are met. A military veteran or City of Orlando/Orange County public safety employee who is interested in becoming a Heroes’ Commons at Jefferson Park homeowner can contact HANDS by visiting its website or calling 407.447.5686.

About Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association and the Florida Real Estate Foundation

The Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association is one of the largest trade associations in the state of Florida and represents more than 10,500 real estate professionals throughout Central Florida. In 2005 the association created the Florida Real Estate Foundation, in part, to provide an appropriate organizational structure to support its many community and charitable activities. This includes the award winning Art in Architecture housing program, which collaborates with local architects, builders and lenders to create affordable housing opportunities in Central Florida.

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