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New nonprofit rehabs, builds affordable homes

Mark Parker



The Caring About Living Individuals Project recently completed its first home for foster youth. Photos provided.

St. Petersburg will have a new resource to help mitigate the ongoing affordable crisis when The Caring About Living Individuals (C.A.L.I.) Project officially launches June 4.

Crystal Wharton founded the newly established nonprofit and serves as its executive director. She has set an ambitious goal to provide 100 affordable units by the end of 2024.

The C.A.L.I. Project recently rehabilitated a four-bedroom home with a studio and detached accessory dwelling unit in the South St. Pete Community Redevelopment Area. Six youth aging out of foster care will call it home.

“It should have been torn down and demolished,” Wharton said of the structures. “It’s absolutely beautiful what we’re doing and what we want to continue doing for the community.”

A view of The C.A.L.I. Project’s first home before extensive renovations.

The nonprofit is a family affair. Wharton’s husband, Nick, serves as financing director and its board’s secretary.

Cali, 2, is also their daughter’s name. “We actually thought about this before she was even born,” Wharton said.

Wharton explained that her husband and his business partners – also members of the nonprofit’s board – own a business that rehabilitates and sells 15-20 homes monthly in Detroit. The group recently expanded to Pinellas County and owns about seven properties.

Wharton said the business, which operates locally as Gulf Coast Flips and through several real estate holding companies, designs and manufactures interior finishes from facilities in Largo and Detroit. She said the group has close ties with the latter city’s mayor and affordable housing stakeholders, and “we definitely want to recreate that here because this is where we all live.”

The company will acquire the properties, conduct renovations and lease the homes to The C.A.L.I. Project. Wharton said the nonprofit would then sublease to organizations serving foster children, the homeless and veterans.

“We’re able to build modular, panelized homes, as well, to fit the need on the more affordable side for the homeless,” she added. “So, being able to customize those little pods and make those suitable for people experiencing homelessness.”

From left: Abe Elomari, vice president and designer; Alex Corrales, Treasurer and general contractor; Nick Wharton, secretary and financing director; and Crystal Wharton, president and executive director of The C.A.L.I. Project.

Wharton said she is working with the Homeless Leadership Alliance of Pinellas County. Early discussions with multiple local housing authorities are ongoing, and other nonprofits have expressed interest in hiring the for-profit company to renovate group homes.

“I’m actually in conversation now with the mayor of St. Pete, getting him on board with the initiative,” Wharton said. “I’ve already met with a handful of members from his administration – on the housing side, specifically – just trying to understand the need. And how we can position ourselves to meet and attack that need.”

Wharton noted that The C.A.L.I. Project partnered with an agency serving foster youth that expects 80-100 to age out of care this year and have no place to call home. That is the basis for her 100-unit goal.

The plan is to dedicate those to people earning at or below 80% of the area median income. Wharton said her husband is a private lender, and his company has funding resources for rehabilitation and manufacturing. The nonprofit will seek grants through local partnerships and donations.

Wharton and her husband have lived in the area most of their lives. She said watching people “being chased out of their homes” due to soaring living costs motivated them to launch The C.A.L.I. Project.

The St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 4 for the nonprofit’s first rehabilitated home. Wharton will launch The C.A.L.I. Project’s website with additional updates before the event.

“We believe that housing is a basic human right,” Wharton added. “We want to see everyone with safe, quality, affordable housing solutions, and we’re able to be creative.”





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  1. Avatar

    Lynell M Butler

    May 23, 2024at4:43 pm

    I would like to rent a apartment I need affordable housing Lynell M Butler 901-508-6054 please help!

  2. Avatar


    May 23, 2024at7:22 am

    There’s nothing “non profit” about this arrangement. Company buys cheap properties on a Govt fast track, fixes them up and leases them to the taxpayer. Would like to read the lease. There is no time commitment. In ten years this company will own a large enough block of home to tear down and rebuild whatever they want. This “nonprofit” owns the land and earns equity over time. If Pres Trump did exactly the same thing there would be massive protest.

  3. Avatar


    May 22, 2024at6:25 pm

    Affordable housing is such a huge need to address. I love what you all are doing!

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