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Sept 8-noon, Hot Topics: For Rent-Nothing Affordable

Staff | Published on 9/1/2021

Register here: Sept 8 Hot Topics: For Rent - Nothing Affordable

Rent has gone up in Orlando 18.8% since January of 2021, and a recent study published by Smartest dollars says that residents need to earn more than $23 per hour to afford a 1-bedroom apartment.

The Affordable Housing shortage in Orange County is at an all-time high and is a health and humanitarian crisis. According to a recent article in the Orlando Business Journal, there is a 91,000-unit affordable housing shortage among metro Orlando’s residents who earn 50% or less of the area’s median income of $48,511. 

September’s Hot Topics will address how businesses and government agencies can address the Affordable Housing Crisis in Orange County, which has been worsened due to Covid and the pending end of the CDC’s eviction moratorium.

Moderator and panelists shown below.

Panelist: Chris King is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Elevation Financial Group, a private equity investment company specializing in stabilizing and growing affordable housing for seniors and families. Under his leadership, Elevation has developed a network a nationwide network of hundreds of private investors who have supported Elevation’s efforts to revitalize and preserve affordable housing in Florida and over a dozen states.

Chris received his undergraduate degree in Religion, Politics and American Public Policy from Harvard College and his Juris Doctor from the University of Florida.

In 2018, Chris ran for Governor of Florida and his race and platform is documented in hundreds of articles by the state’s leading newspapers and political journals. Ultimately, he was selected as the Democratic Nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Florida in one of the nation’s closest and most watched mid-term elections. Along with his running mate, Chris earned over 4,000,000 votes.

Chris has been widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading voices for affordable housing and housing security. He has twice been honored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for “Excellence in the Preservation of Affordable Housing” and he is a frequent speaker, writer and social media advocate for underserved communities needing greater access to affordable housing.

Panelist: Rev. Mary Lee Downey is the CEO of the Hope Partnership (Hope Center), a non-profit founded by Downey in 2013. The Partnership provides services to bring hope to those experiencing homelessness and poverty in Central Florida by focusing on client-centric care and empowering those they serve to determine their own success and sustainability. In the last seven years Hope Partnership and its entities have served over 45,000 individuals. 

The Partnership focuses on a “Housing First,” model of care and poverty alleviation. In 2016 Hope Partnership was awarded the prestigious Bank of America Neighborhood Builder’s Award and in 2015 was awarded the "Bob Allen Award" by Walt Disney World for innovative approaches to helping the homeless in the community. Downey and her team are especially proud of the coordinated efforts to provide housing to those displaced from Hurricane Maria and were recognized for their work by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Downey was awarded the 2019 Central Floridian of the Year and she is humbled by how her community honors her to simply do her job of supporting families in need.

Downey’s most recent project is “Hope Village” a multi-family intentional community designed to provide housing to those in need in partnership with private-public and faith-based organizations. 

Panelist: Camilo Parra spent the last 6 years advocating for the homeless and underprivileged communities of Central Florida. Before, during, and after earning his law degree in Florida, Camilo spent Monday through Friday at homeless shelters, resource centers, behavioral health programs, and rehab facilities meeting with disabled individuals in hopes of getting them onto governmental programs so that they may break the cycle of homelessness. Now serving as housing attorney at the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, Inc., Camilo understands what is at stake for Florida tenants and homeowners alike during these unprecedented times. "

Moderator: Donna Dyson is the Market President and Publisher at Orlando Business Journal.  Her early career consisted of working at Motorists Insurance, New Village Communities (formerly RCF Properties) and the law firm of David Trotti, PA.  She then started her career with American City Business Journals in 2007 with the Jacksonville Business Journal as advertising administrator.  In 2013 she relocated to advance her career with other ACBJ markets.  Donna came to the Orlando Business Journal in 2017, where she led a team as the director of sales, just a year prior to being named market president and publisher.