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Amidst pandemic, Habitat for Humanity continues to serve homeowner partners.

On Friday, August 7th, 2020, two families will celebrate the completion of the Habitat for Humanity homeownership program. The Sanchez and Trauger 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.  At the affiliate’s fiscal year end in June, they proudly built 54 home and served 90 families through the homeownership and home repair programs.

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/.

Nilda Sanchez, mother to 11-year-old Rodney, is a graduate from University of South Florida with a degree in Biomedical Sciences. She currently works as a Disease Investigator for the Florida Department of Health. Her son, Rodney, is very intelligent, athletic, and remains on the honor roll list at his school. His interests are soccer, science, SQL code writing, and playing video games. Nilda says, “Most of all we love to laugh, because God gave us life and it’s too short to wear a frown.”

Nilda’s home was generously sponsored by a group of University of South Florida Alumni.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Priscilla Trauger was furloughed from her job in the hospitality industry for two months. “I had a false sense of security. Restaurants are always open, so I thought I would be fine forever. I had no idea how long we would be closed.” Through all of the challenges, Priscilla worked with Habitat to keep her house on track while she got back to work with extra precautions being taken. “Through all of the uncertainty, I at least knew that my family was safe. It has been a tremendously bumpy road, but I knew all along that it would be worth it. I’ve worked so hard for everything my entire life, and I knew that the reward for this would be so much sweeter than anything I’ve had before.”

The Trauger home is sponsored by Raymond James, a longtime partner of Habitat Pinellas and West Pasco.

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