Habitat home dedication celebrates new homeowner in south St. Pete

The Worthen family moved into their new Habitat for Humanity home on Sept. 22.

ST. PETERSBURG — Last month, a St. Pete family celebrated the completion of the Habitat for Humanity homeownership program. The Worthen family partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties to build their home in the Childs Park area, which they purchased with zero percent interest mortgage.

Habitat homeowner partners 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 being a good neighbor to prepare for their new chapter as homeowners.

Ebony Worthen, a hardworking mother of four, is both a Certified Nursing Assistant and a Home Health Aid for Suncoast Hospice, as well as a cashier at Publix.

“We love each other dearly,” she said. “We are very outgoing and adventurous. My whole family is a bunch of comedians, and we love to joke around.”

Her youngest children, Tory and Isaiah, are heavily involved in sports. They both play basketball and football.

“Once one sport is over, they go right into the next. They don’t like breaks,” Worthen explained.

Her oldest daughter, Ty’Kira, loves cheerleading and has done so for all three years of high school so far. Her second-oldest daughter, A’Zahria, loves to attend all the games, but most of all, loves being creative.

The family had been in their previous living situation for three years. The home was sold to a new owner, who Worthen could not contact for the many issues she faced in the home.

“I was promised by my previous landlord that things would be fixed, but only received a letter that there would be a new owner. The ceiling still leaks, and the toilet still does not work properly.”

Ebony tried multiple times to get into the Habitat program and cried tears of joy when she was accepted.

“I continued to work on what I needed to get done, and here I am now as a homeowner. I really enjoyed the sweat equity, and look forward to volunteering even after I complete the program.”

Since 1985, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties has served more than 840 families and individuals through its new home buyer and exterior repair programs using locally raised funds. Volunteers and the future homeowners construct the homes, which are sold at no profit and financed with a zero-interest loan.

Like Worthen, candidates must demonstrate the need for adequate shelter, ability to pay back a zero-interest loan, and willingness to partner with Habitat to invest 350 to 450 “sweat equity” hours. Mortgage monies are used to build more homes, making each donation to Habitat a perpetual legacy to the community.

“What you’re looking at is affordable homeownership, which creates equity and wealth,” said Rep. Wengay Newton at the home dedication on Sept. 22.

City Councilmember Robert Blackmon was also on hand, adding that homeownership not only builds equity and wealth, but it also has an impact on stabilizing neighborhoods.

“Renters and tenants come and go, but homeownership is for life. It helps you have a voice when you have a stake in the community,” he said.

“This home will be all mine,” stated Worthen. “It’s a home where I can say, ‘I did that!’ I helped put in the hours and worked hard to complete all of the classes and requirements to become a homeowner. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. I want to be able to leave my kids a home that they will always have.”

The Worthen Family home is sponsored by a group of generous individuals, including The Terwilliger/Everist Family, Joseph Cameron, Adria Thomas, Jeff Hughes, Vicki Saul, Lovena Dunn and Page Wurst.

For more information about Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties, call (727) 536-4755 or visit www.habitatpwp.org.

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