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On Friday, April 24th, 2020, four families closed on their new, safe and affordable homes after completing the Habitat for Humanity homeownership program. The Cottner, Daniels, Rodriguez and Ross families partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties to build their forever homes, which they purchased with zero percent interest mortgages. On Friday, the closings took place at the Habitat Clearwater office, following CDC and WHO safety guidelines.

Habitat homeownership partner families 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. These soon-to-be homeowners also completed 20 homeowner education classes, from budgeting to how to be a good neighbor, to prepare for their new chapter as homeowners.

Due to COVID-19, everyone has been forced to consider the fundamental importance of home — of having safe, decent and affordable shelter.

“During these unprecedented times, we must remember that housing is essential. Housing provides safety, stability and shelter. Housing is also an integral part of healthcare”, explains Mike Sutton, president and CEO of the affiliate. “The ability to stay ‘safer at home’ or ‘shelter in place’ relies on the condition that you have a safe and adequate place to shelter in.”

Undoubtedly, while many take this for granted, too many of our fellow community members lack access to safe, decent and affordable housing. Given these trying times, when health and wellness is of paramount concern, safe, decent and affordable housing is essential to the well being of individuals and families and our community as a whole.

Homeowners Mary Watson and Lakesha Munn closed on their Habitat homes several weeks ago. They now have the stability of a safe and affordable home to take shelter in during the pandemic.

While operations have transitioned to a remote work flow for Habitat staff and volunteer operations have come to a halt, the organization continues to move its mission forward. As of Friday, the Cottner, Daniels, Rodriguez and Ross families are proud owners of a safe place for their families to call home.

In the midst of the pandemic, Habitat Pinellas and West Pasco partners remain supportive of its mission to provide safe and affordable homeownership opportunities for those in need. All four of the families’ home builds were sponsored by local community partners.

The Cottner family is the affiliate’s 2020 Faith Build partner, which brings the faith community together to build alongside a deserving family. This build was funded in part by a matching grant provided by Thrivent Financial. The Daniels’ home build was sponsored in honor of Pinellas Community Foundation, who was able to join Regina on-site for a paint day before volunteer operations were required to close. The Rodriguez family build is sponsored by Bankers Financial, the company’s fourth Habitat home build. MaintenX partnered with the Ross family on their second home build with Habitat.

In addition to the closings, local partner, Big Storm Brewery made a special delivery to the Habitat offices. LJ Govoni, co-founder, stopped by to donate 30 gallons of hand sanitizer made by the brewery.

In order to keep their employees working and to support the local community, Big Storm has been producing hand sanitizer at our main production facility in Clearwater, FL. Learn more here.

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