Wells Fargo donated $80,000 to Neighborhood Home Solutions.
BY RAVEN JOY SHONEL, Staff Writer
ST. PETESBURG – A small group of people consisting of city officials, investment bankers and members of the community gathered on an empty lot early Wednesday, Dec. 7 to celebrate the partnership between Neighborhood Home Solutions (NHS) and Wells Fargo Bank.
“We’re here today to let you know that thanks to Wells Fargo, NHS will develop a new home on this lot along with four other homes in the Bartlett Park neighborhood,” said NHS President and CEO Deborah Scanlan.
The three bedroom two bath homes will be sold to graduates of the NHS counseling and education program.
NHS is a not-for-profit neighborhood revitalization and community development organization that is quick to respond to the needs of the community and the clients in need of its services and advocacy.
They are dedicated to helping people improve their financial well-being, qualify for homeownership, maintain their home after purchase, learn how to avoid foreclosure and in the unfortunate event intervene as an advocate for any person facing a foreclosure action.
Scanlan said NHS also plans to work with the Bartlett Park Neighborhood Association to do more work on existing homes as well.
“We consider this as phase one of our program. We’re looking forward to playing a larger role in the revitalization of the South St. Petersburg CRA,” she stated.
Mayor Rick Kriseman said he’s more excited about the revitalization efforts in the Bartlett Park and Palmetto Park neighborhoods than what’s happening in the downtown area.
“St. Petersburg is booming, but when it comes to affordable housing we recognize there is a significant need in this community,” said the mayor, who mentioned that those two neighborhoods are in close proximity to the Tampa Bay and Bay Harbor waterways.
Council member Karl Nurse said the city is in the process of lowering about 75 percent of the cost to building permits for affordable housing. And since there are approximately 1,000 vacant lots in Midtown and Childs Park, this is a good step in lowering the cost to build on traditional lots.
“Frankly, as you can tell, largely what’s being built is upscale housing. Part of our mission here today is to begin part of the step of building some affordable housing,” he said.
Wells Fargo Area President Michael Harpole and Vice President Machelle Maner were on hand to present an $80,000 donation to NHS. Through their Leading the Way Home ® program Priority Markets Initiative, six million dollars have already been given for neighborhood revitalization, that’s 69 grants to nonprofits nationwide this year alone.
Mayor Rick Kriseman
“We care deeply about the communities that we serve. These grants all focus on stabilizing and rebuilding our local communities,” said Harpole, noting that since 2009 Wells Fargo has contributed more than 36 million dollars to 125 communities across the United States.
Tom Tito, president of the Bartlett Park Neighborhood Association and resident for 43 years, witnessed firsthand a lot of changes throughout the neighborhood, such as white flight.
“People were pretty hostile. The white folks in the neighborhood went nuts. It didn’t make a lot of sense. People who stayed had a different attitude and people who left well… you can’t help the way they felt,” said Tito, who is white himself.
By the time he moved into the area, most white residents had left. “Now that’s not really an issue,” he said.
Tito credits the community police for keeping drugs off the streets and encourages other neighborhood associations to utilize their community officers.
“You need to work with the police. There are a lot of problems with the criminal justice system, it’s not fair…but you can’t let that hold you back. You need to do what you can to make your block safer,” he said.
For more information on NHS, visit nhsfl.org, call 727-821-6897 or stop by at 1600 MLK St. S, St. Petersburg.