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Local Habitat for Humanity affiliate expands into Hernando County

Ashley Morales

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An image showing an example of the types of homes Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties has built. Photos provided.

A local, high-producing Habitat for Humanity affiliate is expanding into new territory. 

Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties is expanding its service area into Hernando County. Mike Sutton, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties, announced the expansion will include a new name and brand.

The former Habitat for Humanity Hernando County was disaffiliated from Habitat for Humanity International in February 2022. This move will allow the nonprofit to provide affordable homeownership opportunities to families in the Hernando community.

“The organization wanted to have more of a presence in Hernando County, so they opened up the opportunity for local Habitat affiliates to apply to serve that community,” Sutton told the Catalyst. “We know there’s a need. We receive quite a bit of phone calls from Hernando County, from residents that are looking to own their own home and asking us if we would be willing to provide them that opportunity. So applying to add [Hernando County] to our service area made a lot of sense. We felt like we could continue to impact our region in a positive way.”

Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties has been operating since 1985, building and selling homes at zero-percent interest to households that do not qualify for traditional mortgages. The program also provides an education curriculum to prepare families for homeownership, covering topics like budgeting and home maintenance.

The organization has experienced significant growth in the last decade, expanding into Pasco County in 2017 and reaching the milestone of 900 homes built in the Pinellas and West Pasco region. Sutton said his team is recognized as one of the top-producing Habitat for Humanity affiliates, ranking in the top three out of more than 1,000 Habitat affiliates nationwide for new home construction completions for the past five years.

Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties expects Longlake Preserve to welcome its first families by late 2024.

The affiliate also broke ground on a $20 million townhome project at the end of 2023, providing 54 homeownership opportunities in Largo and becoming Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties’ largest multifamily development in its 39-year history.

Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties is currently under contract for five acres in Spring Hill, with plans to build 24 single-family homes. Sutton said more details on the development will be released in the coming weeks, but applications are already open for this first round of Habitat homes in Hernando County.

“There’s just such a huge need for affordable housing, but we found there’s a gap preventing that need from being filled in Hernando County,” Sutton added. “We feel really confident that, based on our track record and our success in Pinellas and Pasco Counties, we’ll be able to replicate that work in Hernando and provide folks the opportunity to own their own home.”

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