Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Washington Shores

Published on Jul 01, 2021

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Washington Shores
Washington Shores is one of the most distressed zip codes in the state of Florida. It includes a historically African-American community that has had its fair share of challenges. The average household income there is less than $36,000, and the crime rate is over 200% higher than the national average. Thanks to organizations like LIFT Orlando and Valley National Bank, the effort to revitalize the community and help raise residents out of poverty is succeeding.

Helping a Community in Need

In December 2013, an apartment complex known for being a haven for drug dealers, went into foreclosure. It had been owned by an absentee landlord who neglected to do background checks and let the buildings fall into disrepair. However, it wasn’t just home to criminals. The complex also housed families with no alternative place to live; the majority of whom were single-parent households with a median income of around $18,000 (well below the poverty level).

Soon after it went into foreclosure, the buildings were condemned, and the families that had been displaced had few places to go. That’s when a group of local business leaders created jumped in to help and created LIFT Orlando, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty and create a thriving and sustainable community in central Florida. 

Revitalizing a Neighborhood

LIFT acquired the buildings through the City of Orlando, and Valley National Bank stepped in to provide the construction/permanent financing term sheet. This enabled LIFT to apply for $21 million in federal tax credits and $2 million in a state-subsidized loan.

Once it had the funds, LIFT was able to raze the condemned buildings and start construction to replace them. By 2018, construction will be complete on 200 mixed-income housing units, 70% of which will be affordable to residents earning 60% or below median income for this area. The second phase of the project will be the construction of 120 housing units within the same complex for elderly residents.

Supporting our Local Communities

The team at Valley is proud to not only have led the way as the first corporate investor involved in this project, but to have also spent many hours volunteering behind-the-scenes, coordinating among investors and advocating for the local community. It’s part of the Bank’s mission to contribute to the financial health of the communities it serves, with a focus on financial education and affordable housing. We continue to support LIFT Orlando in its efforts to break the cycle of poverty and revitalize distressed communities in central Florida.