New fund tries to ease workforce housing crisis in Winter Park | SkyHiNews.com

New fund tries to ease workforce housing crisis in Winter Park

A recently created fund is another attempt by the town of Winter Park and its institutions to chip away at local housing issues, serving members of the Winter Park workforce that need assistance affording housing.

The Grand Foundation, the town of Winter Park and Winter Park Resort have come together to create the Winter Park Affordable Housing Donor Advised Fund.

"We're really trying to look out for what's best for our residents," said Megan Ledin, executive director of the Grand Foundation. "If there's a need out there than we can work together in a collaborative effort to fix it. It's not just tax payer dollars, it's not just a foundation giving money out. It's all of us working in conjunction to find out how to make the problem better."

The town of Winter Park seeded $10,000 and the Grand Foundation raised $15,000 for the project at the Grand Gala, a fundraiser for the foundation. The Grand Foundation will run the fund, providing grants to eligible applicants.

“If you drive around Granby or the Grand County area, you see everybody has a help wanted sign out,” said Jessica Blair, executive director of the Granby Chamber of Commerce. “Everyone is desperate to get good help, so what’s the problem? Then you look at what’s available for people to rent or purchase at a reasonable price and there’s just not a lot available for them.”

— Jessica BlairExecutive director, Granby Chamber of Commerce

To be eligible for a grant you have to meet a series of qualifications. You must either live in Winter Park or be a member of its workforce, and work at least 30 hours per week. Applicants can apply for rental assistance, move-in assistance and down payment assistance on home purchases. Applicants can only apply once a year, and cannot get assistance with back rent.

"It's a bigger picture for how we can help people get their feet under them, help get them a place to live, start making good money and being able to afford what they currently have," said Ledin. These private and public partnerships are really the wave of the future."

An advisory committee will review all applications, and make decisions based on economic need. The fund will accept applications throughout the year, but the first round of applications opens Aug. 15 and closes one month later.

Ledin said that the Grand Foundation expects the fund to stay open in perpetuity, and that the foundation will continue to pour resources into it. She went on to say that the fund in Winter Park will act as a kind of beta test, and that the fund will become available to the entire county in time.

"We want to use this as a test and see how it goes," she said. "We'll learn a lot in the process as we do with any of our donor advised funds. It's every evolving, and you can always find things you can do better."

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