Today we celebrate the completion of Juniper and Arbor Bend by looking back at our three-year journey…
On March 16, 2017, despite the freezing weather, over 100 individuals attended the groundbreaking for Juniper and Arbor Bend, a subdivision in South Apopka that would contain 58 single-family homes. The attendees included Pastors, historians, community leaders, Apopka business owners, elected officials, and Apopka residents all there to show their support and excitement for this new homeownership opportunity. Habitat for Humanity of Seminole-Apopka and our neighboring affiliate, Habitat for Humanity of Orlando-Osceola, joined forces to fulfill this tremendous need for affordable housing for the residents of South Apopka. Where an 84-unit, Section 8, government-subsidized apartment complex once stood would soon become an opportunity for homeownership and economic self-sufficiency.
The Mayor of Apopka, Joe Kilsheimer, commented about this new opportunity for residents in Apopka as the neighborhood was being built at a perfect time for the growing city.
“The seeds of revitalization are taking root in South Apopka.”– Mayor Joe Kilsheimer
The Greater Apopka area was experiencing rapid growth with the construction of Advent Health Apopka, an extension on State Road 414, a new City Center, and the rebuilding of the community center within Alonzo Williams Park. Mayor Kilsheimer, shared “the community of South Apopka has suffered from economic and institutional neglect for too many years. To correct that neglect, we must today plant the seeds of revitalization to assure the community’s future success.”
The new subdivision offered hope and stability to children of many of the families who once lived in those Section 8 apartments. In fact, some of the children grew up to become some of the very homebuyers to reach self-sufficiency through homeownership in Juniper Bend and Apopka. To really tell the story of Juniper and Arbor Bend, we must go back even further than that frigid day in March of 2017, to that apartment complex, New Horizons. The government-subsidized apartment complex had severe structural and quality issues, which caused Orange County to make the difficult decision to tear it down. Homes in Partnership, a housing nonprofit in the Apopka area, saw the incredible need for housing and replatted the land for single-family affordable homes. They envisioned that an affordable community could replace the previous government housing. Homes in Partnership received USDA funding specifically for rural designated communities to complete the project. However, because Apopka was amid an economic boom, it lost the rural designation from the USDA, which prevented Homes in Partnership from finishing the community. With the USDA funding dropped, Homes in Partnership called upon Habitat for Humanity to fulfill the growing housing need in Apopka. We quickly realized that this was a significant undertaking, and the demand was so high, it was a dream that required two neighboring Habitat affiliates to accomplish.
So, then a collaboration between Habitat Seminole-Apopka, Homes in Partnership, Orange County, and Habitat Orlando-Osceola started and quickly became something much bigger. We would, also, like to thank the many other groups that joined us to help fund 58 affordable, single-family homes available for purchase. We could not have done it without the financial support of Annunciation Catholic Church of Longwood, The Coca-Cola Company, Del-Air Heating and Air Conditioning, FINFROCK, Mullinax Ford, Tolaris, and Qorvo, as well as our own Women Build Program fundraisers and volunteers, our Habitat for Humanity ReStore and our AmeriCorps NCCC team- Coast 3 who were all fundamental in this accomplishment. In total 61 volunteer groups, including churches, companies, civic organizations, high schools, and colleges, completed 10,538 hours of volunteer labor to build this community.
Overall, the Juniper Bend subdivision and its homes have had a $40 million dollar impact on the Greater Apopka area. The houses within the subdivision usually feature three bedrooms and two baths, with a carport and they are built to last a lifetime and for generations of families to come!
It takes a sense of community and togetherness to spread the idea that affordable housing is a human right, and we could not do our work without the ongoing support of our constituents, donors, and dedicated volunteers.
We did it, Apopka! Please scroll down to see the journey of our Juniper Bend project…