This morning Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties celebrated a huge milestone – its 700th home build. The Sakers family is the 700th family to build and purchase an affordable home with a zero-interest loan through the Habitat homeownership program.
Over 100 business and individuals came together to sponsor this family’s home. New partner, Solar Bear generously donated and installed solar power onto the home, which will be a huge saving for the family. Feeding Tampa Bay has been an amazing Habitat partner – stocking the pantries of all Habitat homeowners. As a special surprise, Matt Spence, COO of Feeding Tampa Bay announced a year of free food for the Sakers! The Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce’s program Kids Pedal Pub has been donating brand new bikes for homeowner children. Other partners included Tellor Estates’ landscape sponsors, TEGNA Inc., Congressman Charlie Crist, GFWC North Pinellas Woman’s Club & GFWC St. Petersburg Junior Woman’s Club, Largo Cracker Quilters, and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
Special guests at this morning’s dedication included Senator Ed Hooper, Representative Linda Chaney who helped welcome the Sakers to their new home. Councilmember Dave Eggers presented a proclamation commemorating the milestone. Habitat Homeowners and Board Members, Tamara DeBose and Davisha Earley presented Aurora with a Bible, signed with well wishes from attendees and the ceremonial hammer, which represents the coming together of Habitat supporters to make homeownership dreams come true.
About the Family
Aurora Sakers is a hardworking single mother who has worked as an Assembly Technician for Compulink for two years. Aurora applied to Habitat with an all too familiar story– being cost-burdened by increased rent, forcing a lack of stability as they had to move every time the rent increased. Aurora has had to work overtime at her full-time job, with a part-time job on the side to barely meet their minimum needs. Earlier this year, Aurora sought out the Habitat program to provide better stability for her and her daughter, Ash.
Ash loves music, reading, writing, and history. The two are very close and have leaned on each other throughout times of instability and challenges. Aurora is thankful for Ash being with her during her time in the Habitat homeownership program, as a support system, and because the program offers Ash the opportunity to learn what it takes to be a homeowner.
When Aurora got the news of her acceptance into the Habitat program, she started crying, feeling a combination of excitement, peacefulness, and relief. She knew that this was the first step of a journey that would lead to a stable, comfortable home for her and her daughter. To Aurora, home is where you build the foundations of a brighter future with your family.
About the Neighborhood
Habitat Pinellas and West Pasco has been a driving force and advocate for affordable homeownership opportunities in our community since 1985. Out of 1,100 Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the country, the organization is ranked 2nd based on new home builds. It celebrated its 600th home in February of 2019 with the Gordon family in Ridgecrest, Largo.
With the construction of every new home, Habitat Pinellas and West Pasco creates affordable homeownership opportunities for local families and individuals with the help of community volunteers, corporate donors, civic organizations, and county officials.
As part of an ongoing effort to bring affordable homeownership opportunities to the area’s working-class neighborhoods, Habitat Pinellas and West Pasco continues to work with the City of Pinellas Park and community partners to build homes in Tellor Estates, the affiliate’s largest development to date.
In June of 2018, Habitat Pinellas and West Pasco acquired 7.3 acres located at the northeast corner of 68th Street and 62nd Avenue North in Pinellas Park for $2.1 million. The following summer, the affiliate commemorated the groundbreaking with elected officials, homeowners, and supporters.
Mike Sutton, president and CEO of the affiliate explains, “Over the past two years, immense growth has taken place in Tellor Estates. At this time, we have completed 33 new homes and have 18 under construction and completed the construction of a new road. Upon completion, the neighborhood will offer 75 local families and individuals the opportunity to improve the paths of their family for generations to come.”
See the progress here: https://youtu.be/dM-TG2UlLzk
The 7.3 acre property also contains a number of residents living in mobile homes. Rather than displacing the homeowners, Habitat is providing them an opportunity to access the Habitat program or continue living on the property until they decide to move. Habitat Homeowner Candidates must demonstrate need for adequate shelter; can pay back a zero-interest loan and be willing to partner with Habitat to invest 350 to 450 sweat equity hours.
The 700th Home is sponsored by a collection of community partners and supporters, with sponsorship opportunities at $700 and $7,000 for individuals and businesses. Community support swelled around this initiative – over 100 local businesses and supporters donated at the $700 level. Milestone sponsor, Solar Bear, will be donating and installing a solar roofing system for the Sakers family. For more information, visit www.habitatpwp.org/700.