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Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County and the Pinellas County Housing Authority partner on launch of “Get Ready” program

Candi Hagler, Habitat VP Homeowner Services, providing orientation to “Get Ready” participants

Every day in Pinellas County, and throughout the United States, the American Dream of homeownership is becoming a reality for families in need through the work of Habitat for Humanity.  The Pinellas County Housing Authority and Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County have partnered to bring forth the new “Get Ready” program to help families in public housing move forward toward their dream of homeownership.

“Get Ready” is a joint program of the Pinellas County Housing Authority and Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County.  The mission of the Pinellas County Housing Authority is to provide safe, quality housing for persons in need and to cultivate healthy, vibrant neighborhoods for Pinellas County. Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.

“The family and community stability that homeownership brings can go a long way toward breaking the cycle of poverty for generations.  The fact that every time a family in public housing moves up and out and into homeownership, another family in need can receive the rental assistance; makes the “Get Ready” partnership a win-win for everyone.” said Angela Rouson, Chair, PCHA Board of Commissioners.

Mike Sutton, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County CEO talking to “Get Ready” participants

“The relationship between the Pinellas County Housing Authority and Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County has provided great synergy around affordable housing in our county.  The Pinellas County Housing Authority continues to provide innovative programs and education to Pinellas County residents, where they can then use that education and resources to becoming first time homeowners through the Habitat for Humanity program.  “Habitat appreciates the work the Housing Authority continues to do to make Pinellas County a better place to live!” said Mike Sutton, CEO, Habitat for Humanity Pinellas.

The first “Get Ready” orientation was held on September 22nd at the housing authority offices and approximately 30 residents attended.  PCHA resident Marquita Kendrick said that she wants to own her own home so that she can “show her kids that good things take time and they are worth working toward.”  PCHA resident Kelly Ruger said that she’s looking forward to owning her own home “to have stability for her family and to be able to leave something behind” for them one day.

Participants in the program will receive the wrap around services needed for them to get ready to purchase their own home.  This may include, but is not limited to, one-on-one homeownership counseling, first-time homebuyer training, credit repair expertise and assistance, and financial management readiness.  In addition, when homeowner candidates complete their homeownership and financial budgeting sessions, they will receive their first-time homebuyer certificates that may help with down payment assistance.

“We’re very excited to partner with Habitat for Humanity for the “Get Ready” program for our residents.  Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.  Habitat Pinellas is one of the leading Habitat’s in the United States, having constructed over 365 homes for low-income families to purchase locally.  Many low-income families in public housing are working hard and are ‘almost there’ in terms of homeownership readiness.  The “Get Ready” partnership will provide the resources they need to successfully become homeowners.” said Debbie Johnson, PCHA’s executive director.

Volunteers and future homeowners construct the homes, which are sold at no profit and financed with a zero-interest loan. Habitat for Humanity Pinellas homeowner candidates earn 30 to 80 percent of the area median income. For Pinellas County, that translates to as little as $27,000 a year for a family of four.