Six Families' Lives Change as Habitat for Humanity Moves Them Into Brand New Housing

The Giving Coast

Pictured: Habitat Sarasota handing over the keys to new homeowner Colette.

July's been an especially comforting month for six Sarasota families. Throughout May and June, a half dozen chosen families were each placed in their own new permanent, affordable home built in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Sarasota. In early March, Habitat Sarasota reacted quickly to adapt to the social distancing guidelines as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded in order to continue and complete the construction of these six homes. “We dug deep to keep these families on the pathway to homeownership and are so grateful to the community for continuing to support us so that their homes could be finished," says Renee Snyder, President & CEO, Habitat Sarasota. During these unwavering, restricted times in quarantine, the past four months have made us more acutely aware of social inequities. Affordable housing being one of them. "Everyone has been prompted to consider the fundamental importance of a home. The prescription for improved health, happiness, higher education, increased opportunities, financial stability, and a brighter future starts with permanent, affordable housing."

Of the six families now proudly homeowners, Collete is one of them, a hardworking mom supporting her two daughters. For the past 10 years, she has worked for the same company as an insurance underwriter. Thanks to 136 volunteers and 27 residents of The Lake Club contributing 1,511 hours to build, they now have a solid, safe foundation to call their own. Colette's daughters have always shared a single, small bedroom in their former cramped apartment, so having their own bedroom is a big deal and Colette is forever grateful to Habitat for being able to watch her girls excitedly decorate their new rooms with their personal touches. “I am overjoyed and blessed to provide a home to my girls," she says. "This home makes all the difference for us. It gives my daughters hope and confidence.”

For Diannah's new home, 151 volunteers, and 56 FCCI Insurance Group employees contributed 1,305 hours to build the house. Diannah she needed relief from a long commute, poor living conditions, unsustainable annual rent increases and overcrowded housing. “I don’t have the words to let them know how appreciative I am," she says. "They don’t know the blessing that it is to me and my kids.” Habitat made homeownership possible because of the interest-free mortgage and Habitat’s down payment program. Additionally, her hard work toward sweat equity, all combined, created an opportunity for permanent affordable homeownership.

Reesa, like many Habitat homeowners, is an essential member of our community’s workforce. In December, she will graduate nursing school as a Registered Nurse, specializing in addiction recovery and crisis intervention. Her family has lived in Sarasota for generations and as a single mom, Reesa knows firsthand the challenges of finding permanent affordable housing with one income. She sought a traditional mortgage but even with her steady career, she hit constant roadblocks. She turned to Habitat, and now that her family is in their brand new home, Reesa is celebrating the small moments like her kids being able to go outside and play in their yard in a safe, beautiful neighborhood. “I am forever grateful and appreciative to know that the community surrounded us to help us accomplish our dreams,” she says. “I encourage others to put their best foot forward and go for it. There is support in this community. Before this experience, I never knew that people could be so dedicated–rain, cold, heat–the volunteers were there. They dedicate themselves. It is amazing.” 

Habitat Sarasota is moving forward with plans to serve 21 more families during the coming year. Now more than ever, the organization is asking the community and local businesses for extended support. “The COVID-19 pandemic has further exasperated the housing crisis in Sarasota, which was already at a critical point,” says Snyder. “Without the help of affordable housing providers like Habitat, most workforce employees deemed 'essential' cannot afford to purchase a single-family home in Sarasota. Let’s work together with renewed determination to be better and do more. Let’s find new ways to make 'home' a reality for more families in our community.”

The construction of these homes was funded by: FCCI Insurance Group, Stock Signature Homes, Sarasota Office of Housing and Community Development utilizing State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program funds, Publix Super Markets Charities, Isermann Family Foundation, and the Boscia Family Foundation. 

Pictured: Habitat Sarasota handing over the keys to new homeowner Colette.

Click to learn more about the six newly-placed families.

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