Debbie Smith loves her grandkids.
Take one step into her cozy Ocala apartment and you can see that. It shows off her family and some of their artwork — even some unofficial family members.
But this apartment is a little different.
“Everything is handicapped,” Smith, a Hilltop Manor resident, said. “I have multiple sclerosis….There’s good days and bad days. Sometimes I need help getting around.”
Smith lives in a low-income housing facility and receives government assistance for some of her living expenses. She hopes others in need will get help too.
“There’s a lot of people out on the streets that wouldn’t be on the streets if they could get into a place,” she said.
Marion County has almost $1 million available for non-profit and for-profit developers. The funding will only go for low-income or special needs housing.
“This will provide an increased amount of affordable housing options for our current residents,” Cheryl Martin, community services director, said. “There is currently a shortage of housing options.”
It’s not just about creating homes for people. It’s about creating an easier life for them.
“When people don’t have a roof over their head,” Martin said, “this is gonna help them to become more stable, to have more confidence in their life.”
And it gives people like Smith more time to spend with their grandkids.
The applications are due in March. All housing that will be built or renovated is to be ready for move-in on Sept. 1.