Jump: Stop paying rent and call Habitat for Humanity today!

Santa Claus brought Shannon Crumb, seen on the left with family and friends, and Makayla Dillard, seen with family and friends on the right, new homes for Christmas

 

BY RAVEN JOY SHONEL, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – “There’s no perfect time to move into a new home than right around the Christmas season,” said Mike Sutton, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Pinellas.

That is certainly the case for Shannon Crumb and Makayla Dillard who both received keys to their new Habitat for Humanity homes last week. Both single mothers raising families, their new homes will provide a safe and comfortable environment for their children.

HabitatHome2017Through the work of Habitat Pinellas, a nonprofit organization that builds and sells quality affordable homes in partnership with limited income households and the Pinellas County community, 13 new homes south of Central Avenue have been constructed since Jan. 1 and 35 in need of critical repairs have been renovated.

The completion of Dillard’s and Crumb’s homes is part of Habitat for Humanity’s $1.5 million commitment to new home construction within the South St Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area in 2017.

“We couldn’t do that without the amazing partners throughout the community that makes it possible,” said Sutton, noting that it takes partnerships with the county, the city, nonprofits and funding partners to help families realize the American dream of homeownership.

To dispel any myths, Habitat for Humanity does not give away homes to the poor. They actually sell homes at zero percent interest to those who qualify.

Depending on the value of the land, on an average, a three-bedroom Habitat home will have monthly payments ranging from $664 to $720, which includes taxes and insurance.

So what are the qualifications to own a Habitat home?

“The need is based on their current living situation such as being overcrowded or if they’re paying an adsorbent amount of their monthly income towards rent,” said Sutton.

Other factors include unsafe, unsanitary conditions or substandard housing such as a leaky roof, poor heating or lack of proper plumbing.

This was the case in Dillard’s situation. Her rented home suffered from a massive termite infestation and a leaky roof that was never properly repaired. She felt the conditions were unsafe for her two boys, Tavauren and Aaron, and applied to the program.

“I’m excited and this is a new beginning for me and my family,” said the 25-year-old certified nursing assistant.

Homeowner Services Coordinator Ally Beausir has the privilege of working with the families from the moment they are accepted into the program until they actually receive the keys to their home. She explained that the construction staff builds only quality homes.

“They were built to standards above and beyond building codes for hurricane resistance and energy efficiency,” she stated. “Things like reinforced concrete walls will help to reduce insurance cost while things like high-efficiency vinyl windows will help to lower utility bills and save energy.”

Both Crumb’s and Dillard’s partnership agreements required them to complete 350 sweat equity hours as well as 16 educational classes. Approximately a third of the classes are taken at Neighborhood Home Solutions (NHS), a not-for-profit neighborhood revitalization and community development organization.

“We determine what it is they need and we offer one on one counseling, the financial fitness classes and the homebuyer education classes where the homeowner gets their certificate in order to qualify for down payment assistance,” said NHS President & CEO Deborah Scanlan.

It typically takes 1,200 to 1,500 hours to build a home and with Crumb’s home that equaled out to eight weeks. She was accepted into the program in Oct. of last year, signed her agreement in April of this year and received her keys on Dec. 13.

“It’s a great company. Everyone here makes you feel like a part of their family,” said the 26-year-old mother of one. “I dedicated every weekend for a whole year to accomplish everything that I needed to do.”

Crumb was living in Jordan Park Apartments and although she said the conditions were not terrible, “It wasn’t a neighborhood for my daughter.”

“I can’t be more happy for her,” said Crumb’s older sister Sierra Watkins. “She worked really hard and we were able to come in and do volunteer hours with her.”

Homeowner Service Committee members such as volunteer Carol Dunn are support systems through the whole process. From the interview process to handing over the keys, she encourages, makes sure that the future homeowner is taking all 16 classes and even helps them reach their sweat equity goals.

“If you want to get involved with something, get involved with this. It is so satisfying,” said Dunn, who lives in Dunedin and makes the trek to St. Pete when needed.

Both Crumb and Dillard have stopped throwing away money every month paying rent and are on the road to building generational wealth as a homeowner.

For more information on the Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County program, please log on to www.habitatpinellas.org.

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