Disney, Universal Plan to Develop Affordable Housing in Florida

  • Walt Disney this week announced plans to create 1,300 homes on 80 acres of its land in Florida.
  • Disney joins a growing list of theme parks developing affordable accommodations.
  • Universal Orlando announced in March that it would donate up to 20 acres to create 1,000 affordable housing units.

Disney plans to develop 1,300 affordable homes on about 80 acres of its land in Orange County, Florida, near its theme parks, as U.S. real estate prices continue to outpace growth salaries.

The unnamed proposed project is still subject to approvals and will be built by an affordable housing developer on Disney land near its Central Florida-based theme parks, the company said Wednesday.

The company did not specify criteria or cost for the units, but said the homes would be available to “qualified applicants” from the general public, including its theme park employees.

The units, described as “affordable and accessible,” will be placed near schools and Disney’s dining and retail complex, Flamingo Crossings, near its Walt Disney World resort.

“We are invested in working with our community to solve complex problems,” Walt Disney World Resort Chairman Jeff Vahle said in a statement.

“The lack of affordable housing affects many people across our country, including right here in Central Florida,” he added.

Disney is not the only resort operator in Florida to provide more affordable accommodations for its employees and local residents. Universal announced on March 28 that it would build, with developer Wendover Housing Partners, 1,000 affordable housing units on its land to “address the shortage of affordable housing in Orlando.” Universal’s plans also remain subject to Orange County approval.

Florida is one of the least affordable places to live in the United States, The Washington Post reported in January. The publication’s analysis of Zillow data found that house prices rose faster than any other state in the last six months of 2021, while wages did not rise at the same rate.

Rent prices in Orlando jumped 21% between 2020 and 2021, according to a study by Florida Atlantic University School of Business.

Disney said it has already funded affordable housing projects in the area. One project, Finamore Place in Anaheim, is expected to offer 100 homes to be completed this summer. The theme park operator also helped fund a housing project to help veterans and homeless people with mental health issues.

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