On October 29th, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties hosted a volunteer build day exclusively for elected officials from across the county. Exhibiting that affordable housing is a nonpartisan issue; nearly twenty-five elected officials from across Pinellas volunteered to help build a home in Tellor Estates, and a better future for a Pinellas County family.
Pinellas County School Board Member and Habitat Board Member, Caprice Edmond, kicked off the day with an important message. “This issue impacts all of our constituencies, whether that be children needing stable housing to achieve their best in school, businesses needing to hire and maintain a workforce to drive economic development or a community striving for all citizens to have access to a safe, decent and affordable place to call home,” said Edmond. “Today, we’ll be helping 3 families achieve their goal of affordable homeownership in this wonderful new neighborhood of Tellor Estates. Yet, our actions cannot and should not end when we hang-up these hardhats for the day.”
Between landscaping and painting efforts, the volunteer site will soon be be ready to call home for the McGriff family. The family’s home dedication is scheduled for November 19th, 2021 where all elected officials in attendance were invited to attend. The support from local government officials means that more residents, like Raquel, will have the opportunity to achieve homeownership. The need for not only funding, but awareness of affordable housing issues from local officials means that residents, neighborhoods, and communities will be positively impacted for generations to come.
Volunteer efforts were followed by an affordable housing discussion led by Mike Sutton, President and CEO of Habitat, and Sean King, Director of Government Relations and Advocacy. Habitat Homeowner, Amanda Resa, joined the conversation to share her heartfelt experience with the program. “We wouldn’t have had the opportunities we have had this year without Habitat. We still walk through the front door every day and say ‘I love this house,’” said Resa.
“We ask that municipalities cut red tape and eliminate barriers to constructing affordable housing ,” said King. “If you are coming into this community you would have no idea these are affordable homes, because of the stigma that comes with affordability. However, that is not the case anymore. These communities can be built throughout our county, and improve our cities.”
Elected Officials who attended are as follows:
- Florida Representative Linda Chaney
- Florida Representative Michele Rayner
- Pinellas County Property Appraiser Mike Twitty
- Pinellas County Clerk Ken Burke
- Pinellas School Board Member Dr. Nicole Carr
- Pinellas School Board Member Caprice Edmond
- Clearwater Council Member Kathleen Beckman
- Clearwater Council Member David Albritton
- Dunedin Mayor Julie Bujalski
- Dunedin Vice Mayor Jeff Gow
- Gulfport City Council Paul Ray
- Indian Rocks Beach Mayor Cookie Kennedy
- Largo Mayor Woody Brown
- Largo Commissioner Donna Holck
- Largo Commissioner Michael Smith
- Oldsmar Mayor Eric Seidel
- Oldsmar Council Member Dan Saracki
- Pinellas Park Council Member Keith Sabiel
- St Pete Council Member Robert Blackmon
- St Pete Council Member Brandi Gabbard
- St. Pete Council Chairman Ed Montanari
Advocacy is a key pillar for the Habitat for Humanity organization. Our affiliate is making a further commitment and investment advocating for the advancement of affordable homeownership in our community. Through advocacy, Habitat seeks to influence policy and promote affordability among the broader housing continuum. To learn more, visit https://habitatpwp.org/advocate/.