For more than 50 years, our Central Florida family has played an important role in the story of Walt Disney World. As Disney cast members, it is our home, it’s where we work, it’s where we play and it’s where we grow. And at Disney, we’re always looking for innovative ways to make our community stronger.
Today, we’re taking a big step forward in these efforts: Walt Disney World is earmarking nearly 80 acres of our land for a new affordable housing development – right here in Central Florida. This initiative has been in the works for a while as we’ve been focused on finding solutions to this challenge for quite some time. I am thrilled that we can finally share this news with our cast members and neighbors.
“We are invested in working together with our community to solve complex issues,” said Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World Resort. “The lack of affordable housing is affecting many people across our country, including right here in Central Florida. With this initiative, we’re lending a hand to make a real and meaningful impact in our community by tapping into the best of our company’s strengths. This is the right opportunity and the right time to take action.”
The development, which is expected to include more than 1,300 units, will be constructed by a third-party affordable housing developer and will be located on Disney’s land in southwest Orange County, Florida. It will offer Central Florida residents a variety of home choices that are affordable and attainable, in a great part of town near schools and the new and expanding Flamingo Crossings Town Center retail and dining complex. The development will be available for qualifying applicants in our region, including Disney cast members.
Many of you know us for our incredible theme parks and resort hotels around the world, and we will engage the developer to bring that same innovation, expertise and attention to detail to this initiative.
And the work doesn’t stop here: several years ago, Disneyland Resort led an effort to revitalize the Orange County Housing Trust that provides “last mile” funding for affordable housing projects in Anaheim. This made the Buena Esperanza project — a converted studio apartment community for veterans and homeless individuals with mental illness — a reality. In addition to providing them a place to live, the community offers job placement and mental health and wellness support to residents. As a result of Disney’s investment a second project, Finamore Place, in Anaheim is under construction with an expected completion date of early summer 2022. It will provide over 100 additional housing units. Disneyland Resort will continue to show support for these and other such worthy endeavors.
We’ve also spent years investing in local nonprofits on the front lines of important causes in our community like affordable housing – through hundreds of millions of dollars in donations, the Disney VoluntEARS program, contributions to local food banks and more. Just a few months ago, Walt Disney World donated $3 million to some of these very same organizations. I can’t share much more than that right now, but keep an eye out for more details as we work together with community leaders and a prominent developer in affordable housing to bring this initiative to life in the months and years ahead. For more on our efforts in the community, be sure to visit DisneyWorldGivesBack.com.