Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Habitat rehab is dream home for St. Petersburg family

ST. PETERSBURG — Not all dreams have to be built from scratch. Some just need to be rehabilitated.

That's how LaQuanda Peterson's dream came true Saturday. She and her three children spent the day moving into their new home on the 4500 block of 25th Avenue S.

A Habitat for Humanity project, the house wasn't raised from the ground up like the organization's other homes. This one was already standing when it fell victim to the housing crisis.

It was sold at the peak of the housing bubble in 2005, but later went into foreclosure and was purchased by the bank last year.

Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County recently bought it back from the bank. Then volunteers spent five weeks rehabbing it into the first home the Peterson family can call its own.

"I've been smiling from ear to ear since Thursday," Peterson said.

The goal of Habitat's new Operation REhabitat is to start restoring homes abandoned and left derelict in the midst of the housing bust. And there are plenty to pick from these days. In Pinellas County alone, one out of every 352 homes is headed for foreclosure, according to the firm RealtyTrac.

Habitat is already rehabbing four more foreclosed properties.

"Essentially, this is our response to the conditions in the housing market," said Habitat's land development manager, Ron Spoor.

"It is our attempt to use donors' funds properly."

Putting families in these homes, Spoor said, benefits everyone: it gives first-time home buyers a good value; it stabilizes neighborhoods hit hard by the collapse of the real estate market; and it provides jobs for subcontractors who might otherwise be suffering during the building bust.

Habitat built 22 homes in Pinellas last year and will continue to build houses, such as a new subdivision planned in Dunedin. But Spoor said it's possible Habitat could end up rehabbing more homes than it builds.

"This is definitely a shift in our focus for the short term."

The Peterson family shared a small, cramped rental home before Saturday's move.

Now in the new 1,200-square-foot, three-bedroom home, 9-year-old Ja'Nyiah has his own bedroom and sisters Tariana, 7, and Deyonna, 6, will share another.

The home was in a state of "disrepair and neglect," Spoor said. It needed a new roof and new exterior paint, tan with white trim. New appliances were donated, and new white tile laid next to freshly painted white walls.

Habitat, which holds the mortgage on the house, ushered in the family with a ceremony Saturday morning. Gifts included a bookcase and a Bible. LaQuanda Peterson's mother bought a dining table and master bedroom set. Peterson bought her girls new beds.

Peterson, 30, is an office administrator at Bridges of America, a substance abuse treatment program.

But she's also a Habitat volunteer who has helped build houses for others. So she's already got some improvements in mind.

"I'm thinking about tiling the front step," she said, "and installing a privacy fence around the house."

Jamal Thalji can be reached at or (727) 893-8472.

Habitat rehab is dream home for St. Petersburg family 04/04/09 [Last modified: Saturday, April 4, 2009 9:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump tweets, McCain return set stage for health bill vote (w/video)


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump urged Republicans to "step up to the plate" for Tuesday's crucial Senate vote on their bill eviscerating much of the Obama health care law. The stage was set for high drama, with Sen. John McCain returning to the Capitol to cast his first vote since being diagnosed with brain …

    President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, and others, speaks about healthcare, Monday, July 24, 2017, in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington. [Associated Press]
  2. Teenage driver livestreams crash that killed sister in California (w/video)


    FRESNO, Calif. — A teenage driver lost control of her car while she was livestreaming on Instagram and recorded part of the crash that authorities say killed her younger sister in California.

    This July 22, 2017 photo provided by the Merced County Sheriff, shows Obdulia Sanchez in Merced, Calif. Sanchez has been arrested in California on suspicion of causing a deadly crash that she recorded live on Instagram. She was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of DUI and vehicular manslaughter after Friday's crash that killed her 14-year-old sister and badly injured another 14-year-old girl. [Merced County Sheriff via AP]
  3. Fiancee: Clearwater driver in truck trafficking case helped people


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — When a long-haul truck driver from Clearwater called his fiancee Sunday from a jail more than 1,000 miles from home, he had only a few minutes to describe the gruesome events that led to him being charged with a crime in which he could face the death penalty.

    James Mathew Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, center, is escorted out of the federal courthouse following a hearing, Monday, July 24, 2017, in San Antonio. Bradley was arrested in connection with the deaths of multiple people packed into a broiling tractor-trailer. [Associated Press]
  4. Citizens fill a Pinellas County School Board meeting in 2016.
  5. Trump continues tweet rant against 'beleaguered' Sessions


    President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, officials say, and launched a fresh Twitter tirade Tuesday against the man who was the first U.S. senator to …

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks in Philadelphia on July 21, 2017. President Donald Trump took a new swipe at on Monday, July 24, 2017, referring to him in a tweet as "beleaguered" and wondering why Sessions isn't digging into Hillary Clinton's alleged contacts with Russia. [Associated Press]