U.S. Representative Val Demings, who is currently running for Senate instead of re-election, announced formal requests for over $19 million in fiscal year 2023 federal funding for fifteen projects in Central Florida (full details of all projects below):
- OUC: Eight New High-Speed Charging Hubs for Electric Vehicles
- LYNX: New Pine Hills Bus Transfer Center
- Apopka: Replacing Asbestos Cement Pipes and Galvanized Water Pipes
- OnePULSE Foundation, Inc.: the Survivors Walk
- Eatonville: New Senior and Affordable Housing
- The Leonard & Marjorie Williams Family YMCA
- Ocoee: New Wastewater Collection and Treatment System
- Eatonville: Community Policing Innovation Program
- Orlando Police Department: New In-Car Camera Program
- Orange County Floating Solar Power Project
- Shepherd’s Hope Health Center: New Medical Equipment & Mobile Clinic Bus
- Hispanic Federation: Pathways College Prep Program
- Orange County Sheriff’s Office: Crisis Intervention Team Trainings
- Orlando Community & Youth Trust, Inc.: Youth & Police Relationship Programs
- Orange County Sheriff’s Office: Genetic Sequencing in Cold Murder Cases
Here are the full details for each of the projects selected by Rep. Demings for federal funding:
$3,000,000 for the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) to deploy up to eight high-speed charging hubs for electric vehicles as OUC works to ensure that sufficient infrastructure is in place to give consumers confidence as U.S. automakers transition to electric vehicle fleets. The OUC’s Beneficial Electrification Strategy is designed to create win-win-win propositions for utilities, the environment, and individuals. Electric Vehicle Charging Hubs are critical to providing the right infrastructure for both residential and light and medium duty fleet conversion, increasing consumer freedom on vehicle choice and improving air quality. OUC is currently building an EV charging hub on Robinson.
$2,805,363 for the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX) to construct the new Pine Hills Bus Transfer Center at the intersection of Belco Drive and Silver Star Road in Pine Hills. The Pine Hills Transfer Center is a critical upgrade for the LYNX network and will facilitate more efficient operation and transit access to the major job, education and health centers of the Orlando region. LYNX serves approximately 2,500 square miles with a residential population of 2.1 million people in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole Counties. The new center has been in the design phase for the last four years, with the input of Orange County, the Florida Department of Transportation, Duke Energy, and local residents and businesses. It will include a portion of the larger Pine Hills Trail, a building to house customer service and security, drivers’ restrooms, a driver lounge, eight bus bays for 40- and 60-foot buses, as well as bays for neighborhood circulators. LYNX will also be rebuilding the adjacent Belco Drive and installing a full access signal.
$2,500,000 for the City of Apopka to replace 10.8 miles of asbestos cement pipes and 2.1 miles of galvanized water pipes. This is the entirety of Apopka’s current asbestos cement and galvanized pipe infrastructure, which is aging and leaking and puts residents at risk of water quality and public health issues, as well as risk of total service loss during a natural disaster.
$2,000,000 for the onePULSE Foundation, Inc. to help develop the new Survivors Walk, which will connect the Pulse nightclub to the Memorial Paver Garden. This 24/7 public outdoor space will tell the Pulse story of the first responders, and the survivors, honor the victims, promote tolerance, and share the story of Orlando. The onePULSE Foundation envisions the museum, memorial, and Survivors Walk becoming integral to Orlando’s flourishing tourism industry and anticipates up to 750,000 visitors in the initial year of operation, with a positive influence on the growing neighborhood of South Downtown Orlando. During the construction phase, approximately 90% of the total project costs would be spent locally with over 2,000 full- and part-time jobs created within the local community.
$2,000,000 for the Town of Eatonville for new senior housing and affordable housing rental units. The city will acquire and transform the blighted property at 421 & 429 E Kennedy Blvd, which is currently a hot spot for crime and drug trading, into new affordable housing which will support the economic development of the Town, reduce housing costs, and reduce crime.
$2,000,000 for the YMCA of Central Florida to help fund construction of the new Leonard & Marjorie Williams Family YMCA, a 202 acre live-work-play development led by the Dr. Phillips Charities located in the Packing District, two miles from Downtown Orlando. The new Y is predicted to support over 100 new local jobs. Situated between the 32804 and 32808 zip codes, it will serve a combined population of over 70,000 residents within a 12-minute drive time surrounding the facility, 40% of whom live in poverty. The area is medically-underserved, and a food desert. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely reduced the YMCA of Central Florida’s annual revenue – a drop of roughly 50% – and the Y is unable to finish the project gymnasium without federal support.
$1,408,412 for the City of Ocoee to expand its wastewater collection and treatment system, which currently does not cover the southern section of downtown, forcing commercial and residential properties to maintain their own septic tank systems and prevents further development. This project will construct gravity wastewater collection sewers, allowing Ocoee to develop economically, grow their tax base. It will also provide upgraded potable water mains to provide capacity for water supply and firefighting.
$1,000,000 for the Town of Eatonville to fund their Community Policing Innovation program and combat an increase drug trafficking and crime during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Eatonville Police Department will use this funding to support public partnership and outreach programs including the Citizens Police Academy, National Night Out, Coffee with a Cop, Youth Police Academy, Explorer Program, Vacation Watch, RU-OK? (a senior citizen welfare check program), and virtual neighborhood watch programs.
$985,000 for the City of Orlando Police Department to improve department transparency and community safety and accountability through the new in-car camera program. The program will record traffic stops, suspected DUI incidents, vehicle pursuits, and other activity, including the rear-seat of the patrol vehicle. The project objective is to outfit all Patrol vehicles with in-car camera systems, approximately 456 patrol vehicles. A 2019 federal police grant (the Byrne JAG program) funded the first 17 camera systems. This grant will fund an additional 100, bringing the total to 117, with the remainder funded by local funds.
$500,000 for Orange County to expand solar power capacity through the new Floating Solar PV Project, which will protect Central Florida air quality, combat climate change, and benefit Orange County Utilities’ customers by reducing operational expenses by 20%. By placing floating solar generation in existing stormwater ponds the county can move quickly to place the new solar panels, with plans to execute the Floating Solar PV project by January 2023.
$395,500 for Shepherd’s Hope Health Center, a free clinic in Winter Garden for underinsured and uninsured individuals in need of health services. Increased demand of services by the community due to the pandemic has caused the current operations and equipment of the facility to be overtaxed. This funding will support in-person and telehealth services through capital investments including: a new hydraulic chair for the dental unit; teledoc equipment to support telehealth; a mobile medical clinic bus (which will allow volunteer medical professionals to respond dynamically, as well as establishing second-location services as needed to expand geographic access); a colposcope for OB-GYN services; a new Automated External Defibrillator for emergency cardiac arrest; and an autoclave to sterilize medical equipment. The clinic also plans to acquire important equipment for telehealth and health record management, including a video conferencing system, laptops and digital devices, a security system, website development, and electronic health record software. Shepherd’s Hope is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization and can acquire equipment practically and efficiently.
$200,000 for Hispanic Federation to fund their Pathways College Prep program, which works with Latino parents to prepare their children for college through information on the importance of Advanced Placement (AP) classes, extracurricular activities, and college entrance exams; the critical nature of the junior year; and finding information on financial aid and scholarships.
$184,500 for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) to fund Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trainings, which are a proven tool in the Office’s goal to reduce the use of force, reduce the number of involuntary commitments to mental health facilities (Baker Act), and reduce the number of arrests of mentally ill citizens. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness approximately 1 in 4 fatal police shootings between 2015 and 2020 involved a person with a mental illness. OCSO currently has 1,633 sworn deputy sheriffs and 145 non-sworn personnel, of which Only 538 have attended CIT training. In 2021 the OCSO, in partnership with Aspire Health, created a 40-hour Memphis Model-approved course. CIT training includes intensive verbal de-escalation skills with consistent attention to officer safety. All participants are required to complete scenarios with trained role-players. Also in 2021, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office started the Behavioral Response Unit (BRU). The BRU uses CIT-trained deputies teamed with Clinicians or Clinician Interns who are Clinical Social Workers and/or mental health therapists. Working as a team, the sworn deputy sheriff and BRU Clinician respond to high-risk, potentially dangerous, and suicidal individuals who may have a mental illness, PTSD, and/or substance abuse problem and may be experiencing mental health distress, with the goal of improving their quality of life, reducing their exposure to the criminal justice system, lessening the frequency of negative contact with law enforcement, and referring them to appropriate community services.
$100,000 for Orlando Community & Youth Trust, Inc. to repair relationships between law enforcement officers and youth in underserved communities. The Dueling Dragons Program, in partnership with the Orlando Department of Families, Parks and Recreation and Orlando Police Department, pairs law enforcement officers with teens from Orlando’s most underserved neighborhoods to become a year-round dragon boat team. The program works with youth from Orlando Kidz Zones – designated areas in the city with high rates of poverty and low educational attainment rates. To remain in the program, the teen participants must sign a Code of Conduct and pledge to stay in school, avoid truancy and behaviors in school that could result in suspension, and avoid any activity that could cause them to be arrested. Since it began, the Dueling Dragons has served 162 youth: 0 have been arrested while in the program, 100% have stayed in school, maintaining at least a 2.0 grade point average, and many have gone on to attend college – often earning scholarships.
$48,972 for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) to solve cold murder cases through new genetic sequencing methods. The OCSO Homicide Cold Case Team has four full time cold case detectives currently investigating the murder of 12 unidentified murder victims. Of these 12 victims, three are in various stages of identification through genetic genealogy. The remaining nine victims require genetic genealogy for identification. New technology is available that may yield positive IDs. OCSO is currently working with the University of South Florida’s “Left For Dead” project and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. The cold case process requires extensive knowledge and hours of detective work, which this funding will support.
“I am excited to announce that I have filed formal funding requests for fifteen critical programs to keep Central Florida safe and prosperous,” said said Rep. Demings. “As Chief of Police in Orlando, I believed deeply in the power of community partnerships. That’s why I’m fighting this year for federal funding to support proven community projects that will support local law enforcement, ensure clean drinking water, expand access to healthcare, grow our economy, and keep Central Florida moving. Safe and efficient infrastructure, public safety, and public health are at the heart of every great community, and I am excited for all that we will continue to accomplish in the year ahead.”
Rep. Demings’ previous fiscal year 2022 projects were fully funded, with over $6 million successfully secured for Central Florida for Orlando Police body cameras, youth homelessness prevention, clean water infrastructure, emergency power generators for senior housing, and more.