House to Home Program Celebrates Completion of their First Home
Part of the American Dream is owning your own home, but for many people, that dream is out of reach. Lack of enough money for a down payment, the high mortgage rates, and such expenses as homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, and just the day-to-day upkeep are only a few of the stumbling blocks to achieving this goal.
Through Mid Florida Community Services’ (MFCS) House to Home program, that dream is becoming a reality for a number of people. Mid Florida’s House to Home program took over Habitat for Humanity Hernando County last year. The mission, policies, and procedures have basically remained the same.
The program accepts applicants who are first-time home buyers who have a demonstrated need for housing and the financial ability to meet the expenses of home ownership, even if they do not qualify for a traditional mortgage. There are two other requirements − they must have been residents of Hernando County for at least a year, and they must assist in the actual construction of the house.
According to Rich Sanvenero, House to Home Program Director, its mission is “to be a hand-up and not a hand-out program to build safe, clean, affordable houses where we build… you create.”
On Friday, August 25, MFCS dedicated its first house, a three-bedroom, two-bath home just off California Street in Brooksville. They are in the process of constructing two more houses close by, which should be finished by the end of the year. One other home is also under construction.
Before a future homeowner is selected, they must submit an application and then go through a vetting process. This consists of a review by a five-person review committee. Once a candidate has passed this review, they go through the process of homeownership, working with the SHIP (State Housing Initiatives Partnership) program established by the Hernando County Housing Authority. For more information on this program, go to https://www.hernandocounty.us/departments/departments-f-m/housing-authority/ship-program.
The prospective homeowner also works with financial lending institutions. Finally, they must complete 150 hours of sweat equity on the job site. No, they don’t need to know how to use every tool in a construction worker’s pouch. Their work can consist of something as simple as hammering nails into 2 x 4s or painting the interior.
The first home that the program built took about eight to nine months from start to finish. Now, the process is taking five to six months to complete. They are working with the Board of County Commissioners to look into the possibility of building ‘tiny homes’ suitable for a single person or couple.
There are a number of ways that we, as citizens of Hernando County, can help in this mission of providing home ownership. If you own a business, you can sponsor a home and take advantage of a Community Contribution Tax Credit. For example, Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative sponsored Ms. Rivera’s new home. You can also donate supplies to the project, or you can don a hard hat and take part in the actual construction.
The House to Home program is not the only service that MFCS offers. Among the programs available through Mid Florida Community Services are assistance with paying utility bills, employment support services, Head Start for early childhood education, and services for Seniors.
Mid Florida Community Services is located at 820 Kennedy Blvd. in Brooksville. For more information about MFCS and the House to Home program, go to www.MFCS.us.com. You can also call 352-754-1159 to learn more about House to Home.
The MFCS House to Home Thrift Store is located at 19450 Cortez Boulevard SR, 50, Brooksville, FL 34601. Thrift store proceeds support the House to Home program.