Black Orlando Residents Are Being Pushed Out by Home Investors

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Image: Siraj Ahmad/Getty Images.

An Orlando neighborhood’s real estate prices are soaring, and it’s pushing Black residents out of the neighborhood as investors are seeking to buy properties in the area, The Salem News reports.

Homeowner Paula Kittrell says she’s frequently contacted by real estate investors about selling her West Lakes home near downtown Orlando.

“I got three calls over the weekend,” Kittrell said. “I get a call almost every day. … Residents in our community get calls on a regular basis from people that don’t even live here.”

According to the report, real estate investors purchased almost half of the properties sold last year in the Zip code of 32805 where Kittrell currently resides.

Until recently, this particular section of the city was overlooked by corporate investors but as the downtown area began to flourish, interest by investors in the area began to dramatically increase.  Advocates of the community are concerned about numerous investors and their high cash offers which could reduce homeownership rates, effectively pricing out longtime residents of the area.

“The problem with a lot of for-profit investors is just that. They’re only interested in the profit,” says Camille Reynolds Lewis, executive director of the Winter Park-based Hannibal Square Community Land Trust that is building affordable housing in 32805. “They’re not really interested in listening to families that live in the neighborhoods.”

Lewis wants to increase homeownership in the ZIP.

“If you have a lot of owner-occupied homes, it becomes less likely you’ll have investors … gobbling up houses and turning them into rentals,” she said.

The trust is building The Townhomes at West Lakes, a community of 30 affordable townhomes that will be sold to qualifying residents. Prices for the homes have yet been determined, but the purchase price will partially be subsidized based on the applicant’s income, with half of the homes going to families making 65-80% of the area’s median income.

Lewis argues that this is one of the ways to combat gentrification and increase Black homeownership.

“Young people can buy in the neighborhood, they can become part of the process of revitalizing the neighborhood,” she added. “You can revitalize without gentrifying. You have to invest in the community and not just in your own profit.”

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