PORT RICHEY — Two homeless families could move into brand-new homes this summer under a pilot program being launched by the county’s Coalition for the Homeless.
“The idea is to get families in affordable housing and help them build up their funds so they can eventually become homeowners,” said coalition director Eugene Williams.
Each house in the Holiday Hills neighborhood across from Gulfview Mall has three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and should be available by July. The coalition is looking for families with at least two children, school-age or younger.
“We’re going to have them fill out an application and write an essay,” Williams said. “They will pay rent, but part of that will go to pay for the case management.”
Once they get settled, the parents can start taking home-ownership classes and work with West Pasco Habitat for Humanity to buy a home of their own.
“They can have a place to live while they do their sweat-equity for Habitat,” Williams said. “It’s a test program. We want to see if we can help a family go from one extreme to the other. If it works, we could buy more homes.”
Pasco County has the state’s third-largest homeless population. When the coalition conducted its last biannual Point In Time survey, volunteers counted 119 homeless and unsheltered families with multiple children.
Pasco County Community Development is building the houses on lots the county acquired through the federally funded Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Community Development Manager George Romagnoli said the county has previously partnered with the coalition on affordable housing projects; the most recent was a small apartment complex in Zephyrhills. This is the first time the county will sell a new home to the coalition.
Most NSP properties are foreclosed homes that the county renovates and resells. Occasionally, the county demolishes existing homes, either because they’re in a floodplain or damaged beyond repair. That was the case with these properties.
“These two houses are going to be great,” Romagnoli said. “They couldn’t be renovated. It cost less to knock them down and build new.”
For information or to request an application, call (727) 842-8605, ext. 7003, or email [email protected] homelesscoalition.org