SANFORD, Fla. — On the surface, Kimberly Fogle is a typical Central Florida landlord.
She walks briskly around her property, noting items that need to be fixed and issues with tenants that must be addressed. She greets everyone by name, asking how their families and kids are doing or seeing if any of their needs aren’t being met.
Step a little more into her shoes – albeit quickly, as Fogle doesn’t slow down – and you’ll see she’s far from typical.
“It’s just so exciting to see the dream come true,” you’ll hear her say.
A few years ago, Fogle stepped back from her 30-year career in the insurance industry and looked for ways to spend her time. A longtime volunteer with local nonprofits, Fogle noticed that the organizations had many clients who wanted to rebuild their lives, but had nowhere to house them.
That, she decided, was the need she was going to fill.
WFTV first met Fogle after learning about her project in late 2021, before her apartment complex opened. At the time, she was at the end of a multi-year build process disrupted by COVID and the various challenges faced by someone with zero development experience.
“I hadn’t built a doghouse before,” she joked. “I say that I didn’t need to know everything. I just needed to be the one heading the ship.”
Today, that ship is pointed in the right direction. Nine of her 10 units were filled the day of our visit. The other had been vacated one day before by a tenant who left it spotless. Her residents are working single parents who now live within walking distance to downtown Sanford jobs, and disabled veterans.
One of them, David Mullen, has taken on unofficial maintenance duties to help entertain himself – enough that Fogle bought him his own leaf blower.
“I was the second person in here, and I was like, ‘Thank God,’” Mullen recalled. Before moving in to his two-bedroom apartment, he said he shared a space with three others at a recovery center.
Next door, a woman pointed to a Christmas tree set up in her living room. It was the first time she or her teenage son had ever had a tree of their own, she said through tears.
Fogle’s units rent for approximately $500 below the average market rate of Sanford, but come with upgrades not typically found in affordable units like granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Fogle included a laundry room on-site and made sure the property she built on was on a bus line and close to downtown for easy access to jobs and outdoor spaces.
The existing complex represents the foundation of her nonprofit, Central Florida Home for Good, but it’s not the end goal.
Fogle pointed to the vacant lot next door to the complex, which is slated to become a future second complex with an additional ten units.
“I’m under contract [for the land] now,” she said. “This current property, I used my nest egg to build. This next property, since I have a proof of concept, now I have interest from grant people.”
Fogle talked about additional future plans she’s making. She’ll continue to search for smaller properties close to downtown that developers didn’t want. She plans to build townhomes or single-family homes that she can rent out as a “next step” for her tenants as they rebuild their lives.
She’s also trying to open her community space in the bottom floor of one of her buildings to her resident kids and teens, giving them a space to do their homework after school before their parents get home. She has struggled to find a retired teacher or two who are able to volunteer their time, she said.
She also plans to continue mentoring other prospective first-time developers who are interested in building properties of their own, hoping to create a grassroots movement that can take a bite out of the area’s housing shortage.
“This is what I’ll do the rest of my life because these people are worth it,” she said. “I have eight [school-aged] kids here, and just see how they have finally found their home is beyond words.”
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