Disney and Universal plan to build affordable housing in Florida : NPR


A rendering provided by Universal Parks & Resorts shows the proposed development in Orange County, Florida that includes affordable housing.

Universal Parks & Resorts


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Universal Parks & Resorts


A rendering provided by Universal Parks & Resorts shows the proposed development in Orange County, Florida that includes affordable housing.

Universal Parks & Resorts

Anyone looking for affordable housing in central or south Florida is in for a wild ride — and that’s why two Florida theme parks are promising to provide around 100 acres of land to help alleviate the housing shortage.

Rents have risen faster in places like Orlando and Tampa than in almost any other part of the United States. The average rent in Orlando increased by 21% in just one year, from 2020 to 2021.

Walt Disney World plans to build more than 1,300 residential units on nearly 80 acres of land in Orange County (including Orlando), but adds that the plan is still in the early stages and requires regulatory approvals.

“The development will provide residents with a variety of housing options that are affordable and accessible,” called said Rena Langley, senior vice president of communications and public affairs at Walt Disney World. The new units will be close to schools and Disney’s new Flamingo Crossings retail and restaurant complex, she added.

Universal Parks & Resorts says It has committed “20 acres of prime land in the heart of Orlando’s tourist corridor to be used for 1,000 units of affordable mixed-income housing.”

Universal’s plan lists a range of amenities, from toll-free preschool, community gardens and pools to on-site doctor’s offices and a transportation center.

Like Disney’s plan, Universal’s proposal still needs to be approved by the county government. Both companies work together with development companies on their projects.


Walt Disney World and Universal Parks & Resorts are dedicating land to affordable housing developments in hopes of alleviating Central Florida’s housing crisis. Here, visitors drive past a sign welcoming them to Walt Disney World in Summer 2020.

Gregg Newton/AFP via Getty Images


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Walt Disney World and Universal Parks & Resorts are dedicating land to affordable housing developments in hopes of alleviating Central Florida’s housing crisis. Here, visitors drive past a sign welcoming them to Walt Disney World in Summer 2020.

Gregg Newton/AFP via Getty Images

The statewide crisis for affordable housing has been particularly acute in central and southern Florida in recent years, and the state’s housing supply has not kept pace with population growth. The pandemic has exacerbated the situation as increases in house prices and rents have far outpaced any gains in income.

“We’ve seen a housing shortage and a rise in renters — which has been quite pronounced actually — and a corresponding decline in home ownership over the last decade,” said Florida real estate market expert Andrew Ross Member station WLRN last November. “The factors that have been stabilizing the housing market for decades have gotten a little out of hand and are unanswered.”

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