The first families have moved into Staghorn Villas, the most ambitious project undertaken by Habitat for Humanity Orlando.

The $8 million, 58-unit townhome community is the local organization’s largest and first multifamily development. The group is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, an organization better known for building single-family homes with volunteer labor and donations.

“We knew we needed to make better use of land,” says Dee Danmeyer, executive director of the Orlando group, citing the high cost of land. Other Habitat affiliates have also built multifamily projects in recent years.

The homeowners still provide hundreds of hours of sweat equity to help build their homes as well as other houses.

At Staghorn Villas, families have become friends even before moving in. “They are already forming a community, so why not build a community?” says Danmeyer.

The group has finished two of the 10 buildings, and 11 families have moved into their homes. The project, which uses many green products, is scheduled to be completed in 2011.

Looking ahead, Danmeyer says Habitat Orlando will continue to build both multifamily and single-family developments.