Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco celebrated the dedication of its 600th home in Largo’s Ridgecrest neighborhood Thursday and announced the launch of its new website, www.habitatpwp.org, developed in partnership with local marketing firm Stevie & Fern.
Less than two years after its 500th home dedication in October, 2018, Habitat continues to set the pace for Habitat organizations around the country. Habitat Pinellas and West Pasco is actually the third largest Habitat affiliate by new home construction in the country. The organization plans to build 70 new homes over the next fiscal year.
Habitat for Humanity’s model allows families to buy their homes with a zero-interest mortgage, after a rigorous application process and 350 to 450 sweat equity hours put into their homes, which could include anything from painting, caulking or laying sod.
According to a press release, the key sponsors of the 600th house, were primarily community individuals and family foundations, gained through peer-to-peer fundraising.
Habitat is committed to an ongoing effort to bring affordable homeownership to working class neighborhoods, particularly in historically African American neighborhoods like Greater Ridgecrest, and South St. Petersburg.
Thanks to investments from Pinellas County, Ridgecrest has seen improvements to the roads, sidewalks and amenities and has seen programs at Ridgecrest Elementary and the local YMCA grow. In an effort to keep this forward motion going, Pinellas County donated seven lots in Ridgecrest to Habitat for Humanity in 2017.
“We have constructed 46 new homes in the Ridgecrest and Dansville neighborhoods of Largo,” said Mike Sutton, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco. According to Sutton, Habitat has constructed 46 homes to date in the Ridgecrest area, with three homes under construction and seven lots on the way. Total investments in the area have exceeded $8,000,000.
“Our development work in this area has been a catalyst for positive change in an otherwise neglected area,” Sutton said, “and we are proud that our 600th milestone is in the heart of Ridgecrest.”
The total economic impact of these homes is greater than just homeownership. Each home built by Habitat employs local workers in skilled trades. The tax base of cities with Habitat homes also sees major benefits. According to the organization’s data, in 2019 Habitat homeowners in Pinellas County paid $858,937.15 in city, county, school board and other property taxes.
The new homeowner of Habitat’s 600th home is Nickiesha Gordon, a certified nursing assistant and mother to three boys. “This program has made me feel like I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to,” Gordon said, “and that soon I will not struggle so much to pay someone else’s mortgage; I’m going to pay my own.
“It’s not only the house that you get out of this program,” Gordon said. “It’s also the people, experiences, and knowledge you will gain on this journey towards homeownership. Habitat for Humanity is the hope that I always needed. It helped me achieve the one goal that I thought would take me 10 to 20 years to accomplish.”