St. Petersburg, FL— This afternoon, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties held a press conference with an exciting announcement regarding affordable housing in the Pinellas and Pasco Counties. The affiliate is embarking on a $6 million tax credit in partnership with Hancock Whitney Bank and Smith New Markets Tax Credit Associates.
The press conference was held at the affiliate’s St. Petersburg Resource Center. In addition to Habitat representatives, volunteers and homeowner candidates, several elected officials gathered for the announcement including Pinellas County Commissioners Ken Welch and Charlie Justice, City of St. Petersburg Council Members Gina Driscoll, Brandi Gabbard, Charles Gerdes, City of St. Petersburg Council Member Elect Deborah Figgs-Sanders, Pinellas County School Board Member Rene Flowers and District Director Steven Cary.
Since 1985, Habitat for Humanity for Pinellas and West Pasco Counties has been creating homeownership opportunities for low income people and families with the help of the community. In March of this year, the Pinellas affiliate merged with the West Pasco County affiliate of Habitat for Humanity with the idea we will serve more families annually. The affiliate is less than 2 months away from celebrating its 600th Home Milestone.
Fifteen years ago, Habitat Pinellas and West Pasco completed home #100, located in South St. Pete, in partnership with a low income family.
Life was a struggle for this single mother of two, who had to make tough decisions. She was focused and determined to change the trajectory of her family. While determined on getting her two daughters through school, they became focused on the possibilities for college. This mother, too, became driven to strengthen her life. Over the past 15 years, she paid off her Habitat mortgage in less than 14 years, went back to school and became an RN, and is now flourishing as a nurse with All Children’s Hospital.
Fifteen years later, the life of this family has drastically improved and Habitat for Humanity was blessed with being a small part.
In 2017, Habitat Pinellas and West Pasco renewed its commitment to the area with a $1.5 million investment in new home construction in the South St. Pete CRA. This investment was then exceeded by more than $1 million.
A year later, the affiliate opened its St. Petersburg Resource Center to increase accessibility to south county residents.
Habitat Pinellas and West Pasco has completed nearly 40 new homes, more than 40 home repairs and currently has 15 homes under construction in the CRA alone since opening the St. Pete office.
This afternoon, the affiliate announced it will continue to advance its affordable housing work in South St. Petersburg and throughout its service area. Habitat has engaged in a $6 million tax credit in partnership with Hancock Whitney Bank and Smith New Markets Tax Credit Associates.
This private investment will allow Habitat the opportunity to build an additional 45 homes over the next 12 months, with more than 50% of those being built in the South St. Petersburg CRA. This translates to over 40 families and individuals in the community that will soon have the opportunity to change their lives forever through homeownership.
“This tax credit opportunity will allow us to build even more over the next 12 months, in addition to the 47 completed/near completion,” explains Mike Sutton, president and CEO of the affiliate. The South St. Petersburg CRA continues to be a main focus for Habitat as it is a community severely under served in our community. We recognize a lot of broken promises to this community has created a lot of hurt over the years. Habitat aspires to be a catalyst for good in a community rich in history by providing South St. Pete Residents the opportunity to STAY in their community…investing in their future through the power of homeownership.”
With an affordable 0% interest mortgage, Habitat homeowners can break the cycle of poverty that so many families face, and will be able to eliminate the stress of having to choose between having a safe home or providing their family with the things they need, such as health care or nutritious food.
This investment will allow the organization to amplify its impact and allow more families to have a safe and affordable home.
Sutton closed the announcement by encouraging attendees to get engaged with the Habitat mission as we enter the holiday season and a new year.
“Everyone deserves a decent place to live, and together, we can make the dream of homeownership a reality for those in need.”
Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County and West Pasco Counties
In March 2019, the West Pasco and Pinellas County affiliates merged to form Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties. In total, the affiliate has served more than 780 families in Pinellas and West Pasco Counties through its homeownership and home repair program. Volunteers and the future homeowners construct the homes, which are sold at no profit and financed with a zero-interest loan. Habitat homeowner candidates earn 30 to 80 percent of area median income. Candidates must demonstrate a need for adequate shelter; the ability to pay back a zero-interest loan and willingness to partner with Habitat to invest 350 to 450 sweat equity hours. Mortgage monies are then used to build more homes, making each donation to Habitat a perpetual legacy to the community. Habitat believes that homeownership contributes to family stability which leads to community stability. Additionally, the affiliate raises funds through their two ReStores. ReStores are home improvement outlets where donated household and building items are sold to the public. For more information about Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties, call (727) 536-4755 or visit www.habitatpwp.org.