City of Orlando receives $10,000 AARP community challenge grant

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Florida Construction News staff writer

The City of Orlando as one of five recipients in Florida to be awarded the $10,000 AARP Community Challenge Grant. The city will utilize this funding to provide education to multicultural communities about accessory dwelling units (ADU) and how they can help increase housing accessibility for city residents.

“The City of Orlando is committed to creating a community where every person has equal access to opportunities – including quality housing,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “This grant from our partners at AARP will help underserved communities learn more about housing options available and how they can help improve the quality of life for our seniors by allowing them to stay in place while maintaining a sense of independence.”

Here are the Florida-wide AARP awards for 2023:

  • Cape Coral: Keep Lee County Beautiful, Inc.
    This project will engage volunteers to restore a tree canopy, which was lost during Hurricane Ian, with native plants in a local park.
  • Florida City: Sprout Up
    This project will use aeroponic gardening as an alternative to traditional gardening methods, bringing residents of various ages together to cultivate plants. The produce will go to community fridges and choice pantries, where older people can obtain food at no cost.
  • Lakeland: City of Lakeland
    The project will create a safe, ADA-compliant, walkable connection to a park and link to three other bike/pedestrian routes that are connected throughout the city to other facilities and trails.
  • Orlando: City of Orlando
    The project will raise awareness of ADUs and make the permit process more user-friendly for intergenerational households that want to build an ADU for older family members.
  • Tallahassee: Knight Creative Communities Institute
    To improve safety, this project will stage a community event during which two crosswalks will be painted near an elementary school and a senior living community. Local artists will be paired with students who will work together to make the crosswalks more visually appealing.
  • Tallahassee: Apalachee Regional Planning Council
    This project will support “Wills on Wheels” in a nine-county region. The mobile legal clinics will provide estate planning services to residents, including older adults.
  • Tampa: Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County
    This project will promote ADUs as an affordable, accessible housing option through a design competition. Teams from local architecture firms, as well as participants from high school and college architecture programs, will present their ADU designs.

In 2018, the city amended its Land Development Code to make it easier to build on smaller lots by allowing more site planning flexibility for townhomes, duplexes, tandems, single-family homes, multiplexes and accessory dwelling units. Since the adoption of the new development guidelines, 335 new accessory dwelling units have been constructed, totaling 656 units to date, which is more than double the amount from the previous decade prior to the implementation of the new rules.

Through the AARP Community Challenge Grant, Orlando will create an ADU education and outreach campaign in a variety of multilingual and multicultural neighborhoods. Furthermore, these outreach efforts will create a more user-friendly experience for residents wishing to build an ADU for intergenerational family members. As part of the grant process, feedback will be collected through community meetings, educational sessions and consultations to help create a variety of educational materials, using both print and digital platforms in multiple languages.

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