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Triple Home Dedication to Celebrate New Homeowners in Largo
Amidst pandemic, Habitat for Humanity continues to serve homeowner partners

On Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020, three families will celebrate the completion of the Habitat for Humanity homeownership program by receiving their keys. The Smith, Massey and Taylor families partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties to build their forever homes, which they will purchase with zero percent interest mortgages.

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. Safe, decent and affordable housing is essential to the well-being of individuals and families and our community as a whole.

Despite the COVID-19 crisis, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties continues to provide much needed affordable homeownership in our community. As the affiliate approaches the end of its fiscal year on June 30th, they have proudly built 54 home and served 90 families through the homeownership and home repair programs.

Soon-to-be homeowner Ron Smith is a technician with Pinellas County and father of three. Ron explains, “Having a Habitat home will break the cycle of three generations of non-homeowners in my family, which is life changing in itself.”

When Chileta Massey, mother of three, applied to the Habitat program, she was working full time as a Certified Nursing Assistant while also going to school full time to become a Registered Nurse. Now, as she prepares to become a homeowner, she achieved her goal and is working full time as a RN. “With my new home I will be giving something to my family that I never had as a child. A place to grow up and call home.”

“I am building a foundation and a legacy for my kids. I am proud to be showing my kids that anything is possible with hard work and faith”, says Yonnette Taylor. “Just saying the words ‘coming home’ puts a smile on my face every time.” Yonnette works as a bus operator and is a mother to four children who can’t wait to have a backyard where they can play safely.

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 three of the families’ home builds were sponsored by local community partners.

Typically, the community is invited to join the new homeowner at their home dedication in person. Today, Habitat invites supporters to tune in virtually via the dedication Facebook Live stream at https://www.facebook.com/HabitatPinellasPasco/.

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Please join us for a half-hour of networking, followed by a one-hour program to learn more about how Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties is addressing the problem of affordable housing in Pinellas and Pasco Counties. Hear from a Habitat homeowner about the impact that a safe and affordable home makes, and learn how you can help make homeownership a possibility for those in need in your community.

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