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Rent on the Rise: Homeless neighbor gets hand-up on affordable Kissimmee apartment unit

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Rent is on the rise across Central Florida, but groups of volunteers are trying to reach people in need of affordable apartment units.

What You Need To Know

  • Rent continues to rise across Central Florida, based on a recent report

  • One Stop Housing, Embrace of Celebration and Dream Vacation Interiors teamed up to provide a fully furnished apartment to one homeless neighbor

  • She previously lived night-to-night in a motel

One Kissimmee woman, Brenda Kerns, got the surprise of her life when One Stop Housing and Embrace of Celebration helped secure her a unit complete with furniture.

In May,’s rent report showed a new median price of $1,955 for the greater Orlando area. It breaks records for the 15th month in a row.

The movement to make more housing affordable and available continues, through people Kerns considers to be miracle workers.

At Backlot Apartments in Kissimmee, Property Manager Frank Barberena did the honors; he carefully unlocked the apartment Kerns was expecting to empty.

That’s not what she found. Once inside, Kerns was speechless in an initial shock of it all; her new home included furniture like she’s never had. There before her was a bed, couch, table, chairs, refrigerator and more.

“This is mine?” Kerns said. “Wait a minute here!”

It’s part of a broader project, after all. Kerns, 70, is one of many who the groups of volunteers have come together to help. She’s spent five years living from hotel room to hotel room, unable to get ahead financially because of the high costs she faces to live this way.

“I’ve been going from hotel to motel to motel…and they’re expensive, you know, so you never get anywhere. You never get the money ahead,” Kerns continued.

One Stop Housing leases the units at the Backlot Apartments for an affordable rate, between $700 and $800 per month. They own properties like these throughout Florida and Tennessee. Embrace of Celebration covers the deposit and first month’s rent for Kerns, and helps residents keep food stocked through its free pantry on the property.

Finally, Kerns can stay in one place, in a home like she’s never had before.

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