Village of Orlando

by: FOR Orlando

 The Village of Orlando, Inc is a not-for-profit organization based out of The Hope Church, with a comprehensive approach to community development centered around transforming lives, providing quality affordable housing, and economic development. The Village of Orlando does this by providing quality affordable housing options, economic development initiatives, and various social service programs to targeted communities that are underserved.   

Deborah
Chief Administrative Officer, Village of Orlando 

I actually work with all three of our non-profits – The Hope Church, Frontline, and Village of Orlando. Anything you can think of administrative, that’s me! It’s been 21 years now since we started The Village of Orlando. It all started when we walked across the street to visit a member that had lost their baby. When we entered the home, we were shocked to find our members living in such deplorable conditions. It had to be 90 degrees in this apartment, and they had a fan that was simply circulating hot air. There was no central AC. The flooring was broken, the cabinet doors were hanging off or missing and there were bugs crawling all over the place. I clearly remember standing in that apartment thinking, “Okay God, what is getting ready to happen?” Long story short, months later we purchased that apartment complex and completed a full renovation that included central AC because we believe that AC is a necessity and not just a luxury in Florida. That purchase just set so many things in motion as a couple, as a family, as a church, and as a community.  

It was just something that we felt strongly that God was leading us to do, and we’ve done it for over 20 years now. It’s not something we picked, we didn’t say, “Oh, we want to do this!” I think it’s simply because that’s what God mandated – it was purely out of conviction. This was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. We walked into someone’s home and God spoke, so we’ve been connected and committed to this area ever since.

Village of Orlando is a nonprofit organization that provides quality affordable housing to individuals that otherwise may be homeless. Some of the people we serve are not at 50% or 30% of the area median income; most are at 10% or 15%. Hope Village was the first complex. We also have Hope Square, Hope Estates, and Clear Lake, which we partnered with First Orlando on. Then there are single-family homes throughout Orlando called NSP houses – NSP stands for Neighborhood Stabilization Program. We operate about 18 of those as well. It’s been an amazing opportunity to partner with the church and be able to provide affordable housing to this community. In some instances, particularly during the pandemic, the church through Hope Cares provided subsidies for some of the tenants that are in our housing because they couldn’t make their rent.

At Village of Orlando, we want to provide quality housing to people that other people would overlook. That’s just our heart – that we serve the population in our city that really needs it. We want people to know that we’re passionate about this and that it’s important to us that we are able to be what I often call the hands and feet of Jesus. We love being able to serve people that would probably find themselves in homelessness.  

It’s important to us that the people that live in our housing like where they live and feel like they’re living in a place that is quality and safe. We make sure that we maintain the properties at a high level. I used to say, “I could live here.” That is our standard. We maintain everything from making sure that the lawns are cut every week, making repairs such as painting, plumbing issues, and maintaining the AC. We try to maintain all those things just as we would in our own homes.   

The Village Management Team

We manage the most affordable complexes in Orlando. We don’t have to do any marketing because we have been here for over 20 years, and we have a good reputation with the community and the city at large. Phones are always ringing, people are always calling, and they’re always wanting to put in applications.  We always have a waiting list of about 10 families.  The word is out: if you’re looking for a place that’s going to be affordable and it’s going to be well-maintained, call the Village Management Office. We also work very closely with the Orlando Union Rescue Mission, so when individuals complete the program there, they will call us for housing.  We are proud to say that we have assisted 15 families with housing over the last 2 years that are coming out of homelessness and employed 4 of those individuals on our campus.  

The goal for us is to be able to get people from homelessness to home, then ultimately, we would like to be able to get people from being a renter to being a homeowner. As NSP homes become available it gives our tenants an opportunity to transition into a single-family home and experience what it could feel like to be a homeowner. They get to live in a space that they can decorate and maintain as though it were their own.  

It’s interesting because we have such a mixed community. We have people that are Orlando natives, have been here all their lives, and grew up in this area who don’t want to leave this community. We also have a lot of the Haitian and Jamaican population, so people that come in from other countries and other cultures find their way over to this area and they make it home. The tenants have become more like family than just neighbors. They take care of each other; they look out for each other. We try to make sure that if we have seniors, we keep them together so they can form relationships and take care of each other. We also have some single moms with young children, and we try to put them together so that the kids can bond and get to know one another. 

It’s wonderful having housing so close to The Hope Church. It gives us the opportunity as a church to really be able to minister to the families. It’s not a requirement that they’re a member of this church, it’s not a requirement that they come here. All we know is they are right here, and we have the opportunity to love on them and to share Jesus with them. We host various events and provide food giveaways, school supply giveaways, and other resources. We want to be a resource to them and give them a hand up so they can also take care of themselves.

People here know that if there’s something going on in their life if they need some assistance, whether it is somebody that’s going to pray with them or somebody to sit and listen to them, we’re here. We’re not just a church. We’re a resource to the people in this area. 

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