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Disney Donates $5M Toward Newly Revitalized Orange County Affordable Housing Trust

In an effort to combat homelessness in the region, local business leaders in Orange County are revitalizing a nonprofit that will provide funding for supportive and affordable housing projects.

The Orange County Business Council and nonprofit NeighborWorks Orange County have teamed up to re-energize the Orange County Housing Trust, a nonprofit that was originally founded in the mid-2000s but has laid dormant in recent years.

Disneyland Resort has provided a $5M donation to kick-start the trust.

Jamboree Housing’s Manchester project at 2121 South Manchester Ave. and 915 East Orangewood Ave.
Jamboree Housing’s Manchester project in Anaheim

"The need for affordable and supportive housing is real," Orange County Business Council President and CEO Lucy Dunn said. "With a little bit of private capital to help leverage some of the public capital and the business community realizing it could help play a role in this ... we want to move this ball forward."

Much like its neighbor Los Angeles, Orange County is grappling with a serious affordable housing crisis and homelessness. A report released Wednesday found that there were more than 1,800 homeless people living just in North Orange County with at least 1,400 of them unsheltered, according to LAist.

The California Association of Realtors reported that in 2017, a typical buyer of a single-family home in Orange County would need at least an annual income of $158K, according to the Orange County Register

Dunn said one of the Orange County Business Council's core initiatives is to increase the supply of housing for the workforce.

"Homelessness is a byproduct when you don't have supply and don't have affordability," Dunn said. "We know government plays a heavy role, but the business community can also step up and find a way."

The OCBC teamed up with nonprofit NeighborWorks Orange County, which provides financial and other types of assistance to first-time homebuyers to purchase a home, to resurrect the Orange County Housing Trust.

Founded in 2005, the Orange County Housing Trust's main intent was to provide workforce housing solutions. The recession and its aftermath slowed down the progress of the trust and it laid dormant for the past couple of years, NeighborWorks President and CEO and Orange County Housing Trust Executive Director Helen O'Sullivan said.

Orange County Business Council President Lucy Dunn
Orange County Business Council President Lucy Dunn

The revitalized trust's purpose will be to provide last-mile funding and gap financing for the acquisition, development or construction of permanent supportive and affordable housing projects.

"This is another tool for affordable housing developers to get their projects through," O'Sullivan said. "The goal is to raise capital, identify projects and deploy the funds."

Disney has provided a $5M grant into the trust. Some of that money will be allocated to Jamboree Housing's recently approved $52M, 102-unit affordable housing project in Anaheim.

“Communities need permanent supportive housing to help address homelessness and the housing affordability challenges impacting nearly every city throughout California,” Disneyland Resort President Josh D’Amaro said in a statement. “We are proud to support the Orange County Housing Trust with a $5M grant that will be focused on Anaheim-based projects and look forward to the Trust’s role in addressing this need in our community.” 

Dunn said she hopes the business community can rally around this trust, match Disney's donation and raise more money. 

"We're hoping other companies will step up and help," Dunn said. "We're all in this together."