ORLANDO — Representatives from Ability Housing, AdventHealth, the office of U.S. Representative Val Demings and Orange County Government today broke ground on a new community center at the Wayne Densch Apartments.
The $750,000 project will add 2,500 square feet of flexible space to the community. Upon completion, the community center will provide the community’s 100+ residents with dedicated areas where they can fully focus on their physical, social and emotional health, with the support of on-site staff and community partners.
“Our mission is to build strong communities where everyone has a home. However, we all need more than a safe and stable dwelling to achieve and maintain a high quality of life. That’s why this community center is so important. This space is all about creating connections — among residents, with our incredible network of nonprofit partners and with the broader community,” said Shannon Nazworth, President and CEO of Ability Housing.
The building will include a multipurpose room, laundry facilities, three offices where residents can meet privately with case managers, office space for the property management team, a computer lab and library. Free services also come from Occupational Therapy students and team members from AdventHealth University and its Hope Clinic, who are training residents to perform tasks required for independent living, assessing homes for any risks and conducting group therapy sessions to enhance communication and socialization skills.
This addition to the Wayne Densch Apartments is funded by a variety of public and private partners, including $500,000 in federal funding secured by U.S. Representative Val Demings (FL-10) and $250,000 from the Orange County Government through an American Rescue Plan appropriation.
“Every person in our community should have access to safe housing and resources to get off the street and back on their feet, especially those working to overcome mental and physical illness and drug addiction. As a former social worker and law enforcement officer, I saw firsthand how services for homeless individuals can transform lives and strengthen communities. The Wayne Densch Community Center project will expand this support. I am proud to have secured funding to help ensure that our families, friends, and neighbors receive the support they need,” said U.S. Representative Val Demings (FL-10).
“Orange County Government is excited to partner with AdventHealth, Ability Housing and the federal government, in providing funding to expand the footprint at Wayne Densch Apartments with a new community center. The community center creates a positive atmosphere for residents to access enhanced services that benefit their health and well-being while connecting them with valuable resources and support,” said Mayor Jerry L. Demings, Orange County.
Wayne Densch Center, Inc., which owned and operated the Wayne Densch Community as a transitional housing community for more than 18 years, donated the property to AdventHealth (previously known as Florida Hospital) in 2016. In turn, AdventHealth partnered with Ability Housing to operate and transform the property into 75 units of permanent housing for individuals and families exiting or at risk of homelessness. Since its completion, the community has remained fully leased.
“Housing is a critical social determinant of health. This new community center will extend AdventHealth’s ability to provide health care services to our neighbors at the Wayne Densch Community in a manner that meets residents where they are, and helps support optimal health on their terms,” said Michael Griffin, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy for AdventHealth and Chairman of the Ability Housing Board of Directors.
Construction is anticipated to take approximately eight months. The project architect is Ebert Norman Brady (ENB).