Hillsborough Habitat for Humanity Unveils 12 New Affordable Homes

Modern Globe

Photo byHillsborough Habitat for Humanity

Among a shortage of affordable homes all across Florida, Hillsborough Habitat for Humanity has unveiled the Silvio Palms Project, which consists of a dozen homes for people making 80% or less of the area median income. The homes have attached garages and are energy and water-efficient. The neighborhood also has new sidewalks, curbs, and a paved entry road along with a newly constructed park play area.

A place to call their own

Mindy Vaughn, a recovering addict, originally lived with her grandmother. When she could set off on her own rented what she could afford for her and her daughter. Turns out, it was a terrible neighborhood, so bad that she did not allow her daughter outside.

At the recommendation of one of her bosses at Hyde Park United Methodist Church, Vaughn, clean now for six years, applied for a home through Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County.

After putting in dozens of hours of sweat equity and taking courses on homeownership, the Constitution and money management, Vaughn and her six-year-old daughter are now one of 12 families living in a new Habitat village in Temple Terrace.

Habitat for Humanity unveiled the new 12-home neighborhood on February 16. These homes add to Hillsborough County’s stock of affordable single-family homes. The Temple Terrace village also got a boost from the Hillsborough County government in the form of a $500,000 gift.

“It’s a three-bedroom, two-bath 1,600 square-foot home and I was one of the fortunate ones to get solar panels donated for my house,” Vaughn said. “I absolutely love it.”

Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County organized in 1987 to become part of the global, nonprofit housing organization. The local nonprofit is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally through constructing, rehabilitating, and preserving homes. It advocates for fair and just housing policies. It also provides training and access to resources to help families improve their housing conditions.

Hillsborough County is not even close to addressing the affordable housing needs of people who already live within its boundaries. However, the county has made strides over the past few years to help fund projects like this.

The Hillsborough County Housing Authority not only oversees federally funded rentals but also administers state funding and funding the county offers to increase the number of affordable homes and apartments.

As the price of homes skyrocketed in the county, the Hillsborough County Housing Authority invested $54 million in 2021 to directly impact those seeking affordable homes. Half of it went to provide payment assistance to first-time home buyers, new construction of multifamily complexes and single-family homes.

And Habitat has been working in the county every step of the way.

“My neighborhood is so special,” Vaughn said. “I grew up in Plant City staying out and playing until it was dark. Now I get to see my daughter able to do the same thing. It is humbling.”

As more people move to the county every day, the need for affordable housing will continue to increase. So, it indeed takes a village.

Last year, Hillsborough County funded affordable housing units in East Tampa, the Brandon area, the University area, in Seffner, Riverview and Ruskin. Those were all rental units.

More housing coming to Hillsborough

Hillsborough County also invested $7.3 million for facility and infrastructure improvements, affecting more than 6,300 households.

The county also used COVID-19 funding to cover past-due rental payments and mortgage payments for the low-income community.

Habitat for Humanity Pinellas and West Pasco County unveiled CEO Build in 2022 to create new affordable housing opportunities on the west side of Tampa Bay.

This year’s CEO Exclusive Build Day took place February 17 at 2773 Grove Park Ave. N. St. Petersburg with CEOs from nine different companies pitching in. They come from myriad industries, including healthcare, media, retail and banking.

"At Habitat, we partner with businesses across our service area to help local families achieve the dream of affordable homeownership," said Mike Sutton, Habitat Pinellas and West Pasco president and CEO.

“We are fortunate to have so many local organizations committing to bettering their community through their corporate social responsibility initiatives. The second annual CEO Build will allow that investment to continue through the sponsorship of the Diaz-Gonzales family’s home.”

Habitat for Humanity Pinellas and West Pasco County has already served nearly 800 homeowner partners since 1985. It completed more new homes than any other Habitat affiliate in the country over the last 12 months.

The Pinellas and Pasco group plans to celebrate its 800th home in March.

Habitat candidates purchase these homes with a 0% interest mortgage. They must demonstrate a need for adequate shelter, the ability to pay the loan and a willingness to complete a homebuyer education course. They also must invest 350-450 hours of “sweat equity” into the home they will receive.

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