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Rep. Demings’ Community Project Funding Advances

July 19, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C.: Rep. Val Demings (FL-10) today announced that funding for ten community projects in FL-10 in Central Florida successfully passed the House Appropriations Committee last Friday.

Said Rep. Demings, “I am excited to announce that we have successfully obtained committee approval for major investments to Central Florida’s public safety, education, job training, affordable housing, and infrastructure services.

“As Orlando’s former Chief of Police, I saw that our community was safer and better when we stood for accountability and opportunity for all. I brought this same attitude to these community project designations, which will fund next-generation body cameras for the Orlando Police Department and help give youth in our region new educational and career opportunities. I also believe that safe housing, drinking water, and streets should be a right for all our communities, and designated targeted funding to address these needs in neighborhoods which need assistance to ensure the best possible quality of service.

“I will continue to advocate for this crucial funding for our region until it has passed Congress and been signed by the President.”

Said Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings: “Orange County has a real housing crisis, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. With over 6,000 homeless students in Orange County Public Schools, we need to look at new interventions to prevent homelessness experienced by children and families. I am grateful for Congresswoman Demings’ advocacy on this critical issue in our community and her support of the funding request by Orange County to launch a youth homelessness prevention program. The project will have a true, positive impact on the community we serve.”

Said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, “The City of Orlando and the Orlando Police Department are thankful for Congresswoman Demings' hard work and determination to secure federal support for our officers' next generation body-worn cameras. While our officers have been equipped with body-worn cameras since 2014, this next generation of cameras will increase public transparency through improved technology and simplify use by our officers in critical situations. We are thankful to have Congresswoman Demings as a partner and leader in Washington. As our former Police Chief, Rep. Demings uniquely understands how our agency demands officer accountability, but also the incredibly dangerous situations we ask our officers to confront every day.”

Said Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson, “Congresswoman Demings contacted our office to find out what was needed in our community. Given the rapid growth in northwest Apopka, our greatest need is an additional water tank to store drinking water. Thanks to Congresswoman Demings, we have $1.5M in the budget for a 1.5-million-gallon storage tank that will help serve our area for the next 20 years.”

Said Ocoee Mayor Rusty Johnson: “The City of Ocoee is pleased our Lakefront Park Restroom/Concession Building Project will be included in the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies’ Community Project Funding. The $361,075 in funding assistance will allow the City to continue our efforts in implementing the Downtown Master Plan and redeveloping Lakefront Park. The restroom/concession building will provide necessary support facilities to serve our public whether they attend one of our large special events or simply visiting the park or boating on Starke Lake. Please feel free to contact me further for assistance as we move through the process. I am very excited about this project.”

Said Town of Windermere Mayor James O’Brien, “I would like to thank Representative Demings for her tireless efforts on behalf of the Town of Windermere. The funding for Windermere’s Safe Route to School Project Phase 1 will ensure that our children have a safe and healthy route to school daily. Additionally, the project benefits the entire West Orange Community by enhancing the walkability of Town and providing enhanced safety and accessibility for all citizens.”

Said Town of Eatonville Mayor Eddie Cole, “I am truly thankful to the Honorable Congresswoman Val Demings for advocating for the Historic Town of Eatonville to receive $665,000 for the upgrades and repairs to a portion of construction of the sewer and wastewater project. Our town is boasting several future projects which include the awarding of a USDA Rural Development Park Master grant of $746,250, $35,000,000 Data Center, a $86,000,000 435-unit apartment complex, and an up-and-coming proposed 95-unit workforce apartment complex to go along with the development of the 100 acres on the Hungerford property. We must build and maintain our water and sewer system to keep up with the demands of economic development and population growth. This infrastructure is necessary to continue to progress the Town and improve living standards. We are honored that Congresswoman Demings supports our vision by being an advocate for the economic development of Eatonville, America’s oldest Black incorporated town (1887).”

Said Dr. Phillips Center President and CEO Kathy Ramsberger, “This federal appropriations funding will help more than 100,000 students enjoy incredible classes and programs here at the Dr. Phillips Center and our AdventHealth School of the Arts. Giving as many people as possible the opportunity to learn about theater, music and dance—that’s our vision, Arts For Every Life®, in action. We’re so grateful to Congresswoman Demings for her advocacy and leadership in making this possible.”

Said Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida President/CEO Dave Krepcho, “We’re excited about this new federal funding opportunity that will invest in culinary workforce training. This is a win for Central Florida’s hospitality industry, workers and their families. With Congresswoman Demings’ help, we’re providing tools and skills for a sustainable career, stable housing and a second chance at life.”

Said Orlando Housing Authority Board Chair Ed Carson, “The Board of Commissioners, staff, and residents of the Orlando Housing Authority are grateful to the House Appropriations Committee for including emergency generators for two public housing apartments. These generators will allow elderly households to remain in their apartment complexes when there are power failures. Generally, these power failures are associated with storms. Many residents are need oxygen and/or portable air conditioners for medical reasons. These generators will provide electricity for these vulnerable residents. Special thanks go to President Biden, Congresswoman Val Demings and HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge for their support.”

Said Ability Housing, Inc. President & CEO Shannon Nazworth, “The Wayne Densch Community Center Project is essential to ensuring formerly homeless residents, especially those with a disability who experienced long-term homelessness, have access to the services they need to maintain stable housing and increase their self-sufficiency. This federal funding will enable Ability Housing to expand the breadth of services we provide to the residents, and expand those services to the broader community. This Project is the culmination of a cross-sector partnership that has ended homelessness for hundreds of people and is the springboard for further success. We're grateful for the support of Representative Demings in this effort.”

The projects requested by Rep. Demings and included in the legislation are:

$1,500,000 for a new Water Storage Tank at the Northwest Water Production Plant in Apopka. Currently, the City of Apopka has only a single water storage tank, with the city expected to soon outgrow its capacity leading to water shortage issues, especially during potential fire emergencies.

$1,200,000 for the City of Orlando Police Department’s (OPD) “Next Generation Enhanced Body Worn Cameras Project.” OPD’s body camera program has been a major success to reduce complaints against officers as well as use of force events. This funding will support a new generation of cameras which include auto-activation technology to ensure that incidents are automatically captured when an officer’s firearm or taser are unholstered, as well as supporting live streams, extended battery life, unlimited cloud storage, and other features. This funding request was made in partnership with Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07).

$769,160 for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida’s Culinary Workforce Training Program. This program transforms lives by providing eligible, at-risk, and economically disadvantaged adults with the culinary and life skills training—including life skills, work readiness, communications skills, financial literacy, time management, resume-writing, and interviewing skills—that will provide the foundation for a sustainable and successful career. To date, More than 350 students have so far been able to find meaningful employment after participating in the Culinary Workforce training program. One past graduate shared her story: “In the past four years I have experienced illness, homelessness, and unemployment.  While staying at the Orlando Rescue Mission, I entered the training program.  After graduating, I was able to secure full-time employment at a major restaurant chain.  Now my life has done a 180. I now have a job, a car, an apartment, and a new outlook on my future.”

$760,000 for the Town of Windermere’s Safe Route to School Project, Phase One. This funding will support projects that support multimodal transportation, including walking, cycling, and golf cart travel, within Windermere. The focus of Phase One is to ensure that Windermere Elementary Students can directly and safely access the school, as well as allowing residents to safely use the pathways to get to civic, recreations, commercial, and educational facilities.

$665,000 for the Town of Eatonville’s Vereen Lift Station and Quadrant Rehab. These repairs to Eatonville’s sewer and wastewater project will stabilize the wastewater infrastructure of America’s oldest black incorporated town and allow the community to continue to grow in a sustainable, safe and sanitary manner.

$500,000 for the Wayne Densch Center Community Center in Orlando to support programs to address Central Florida’s acute affordable housing crisis, in partnership with the City of Orlando, Orange County, The Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, the Homeless Services Network, and others.

$361,075 for the City of Ocoee’s Lakefront Park Restroom/Concession Building. Ocoee’s Lakefront Park was a crucial step to renovate and revitalize the city’s downtown neighborhood, and this funding will help ensure that the park’s public services can fully support special events, as well as day traffic, ensuring maximum support for the neighborhood’s quality of life and small businesses.

$300,000 for the Orange County Community of Schools and Services’ Youth and Family Homeless Diversion, which will help fund a pilot program for the “Upstream Model” to ensure support for K-12 students in need of counseling and extra support. This model, which has been used successfully in other communities, helps to identify youth and families in need quickly and directs school personnel in providing targeted recommendations to community providers and services. Youth in Orange County experience high rates of poverty, homelessness and related challenges, and this targeted support can be critical to overcome these challenges and provide them with a bright future.

$250,000 for the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Inc. Arts for Every Life Arts Education Programs in Orlando. This funding will allow the Dr. Phillips Center to fully operate their arts education programs without having to make budget cuts, allowing them to continue programming which supports over 100,000 individuals annually across our region, including Disney Musicals in Schools, Applause Awards, 6th & Jazz, Project WoW, Summer Camps (3), Youth Theater Productions (2), Four Counts, Quarter Notes, and Teen Ambassadors. The Dr. Phillips Center provides over $130 million in annual economic impact to the Central Florida economy.

$68,500 for the City of Orlando Housing Authority to install emergency standby generators at two assisted housing sites: The Villas at Carver Park and Meadow Lake Apartments. These two sites currently do not have permanent backup generators to ensure the safety and health of seniors and persons with disabilities who live in these public housing units. The loss of power is a frequent by-product of heavy storms/hurricanes and can be immediately life-threatening to individuals with specialized medical needs.

Total - $6,373,735