ORLANDO, Fla. - Two affordable housing projects—one in Parramore and one in Pine Hills—are competing for the same grant money.
A judge has decided that Orange County handed out tax money illegally and gave the Pine Hills project an unfair advantage over the one in Parramore.
On Parramore Avenue, construction has been nonstop for months—matching the nonstop litigation in an Orange County courtroom over whether the Parramore apartments deserve federal subsidies, or whether the money should go to a project to replace a Pine Hills strip mall.
“That’s why this is so important. It’s sort of now or never for Amelia Court,” said Tucker Byrd, the lawyer for the Parramore Project.
“The court’s ruling really vindicates what my clients believed all along, which was the fact that the county broke the law when it awarded funds to Wendover,” he said.
Wendover is the one trying to build affordable senior housing in Pine Hills.
Orange County pushed that project at the last minute as a candidate for the federal funding.
Then, a literal lottery between otherwise identically-qualified projects all but assured the project in Pine Hills would get the subsidies instead of the one in Parramore.
All of it was done without any kind of competitive bidding.
According to the ruling, "Orange County's awarding of SHIP funds without the required competitive process ... runs afoul of public policy."
The upshot of the decision means lower rent for apartments in the Parramore building.
Another chance exists for the Pine Hills project to get subsidies next year.
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