Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Habitat's vision expands

The Clearwater Housing Authority wanted to get rid of an old public housing complex that did not support itself financially.

Coincidentally, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County is starting to develop not just single homes, but whole communities.

The result?

The housing authority recently sold its old 61-unit Homer Villas on N Betty Lane to Habitat for $1.2-million.

"We saw this as an opportunity," said Jacqueline Rivera, the housing authority's chief executive officer. "With … home ownership that is affordable, the community is going to progress even further."

Over the next five years, Habitat hopes to create a subdivision called Stevens Creek on the 9 acres. The new community would have 50 houses sold to people who make between 30 and 80 percent of the area's median income.

Habitat also hopes to build 10 homes for sale to anyone regardless of income.

"There is a significant need for affordable housing in Pinellas County," said Ron Spoor, Habitat's land development manager. "By concentrating on both (individual homes) and subdivisions we have a greater opportunity to meet the need."

• • •

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has encouraged local housing officials in recent years to dismantle obsolete public housing. Most notably, high-rise projects in cities such as Chicago and New York have been replaced by newer forms of public housing.

Following the trend, six years ago the Clearwater Housing Authority sold the dilapidated Chesapeake Village on Drew Street near McMullen Booth Road to a neighboring church and put the money into other forms of public housing.

The housing authority is also redeveloping a third property. Jasmine Courts — also near Drew Street and McMullen Booth Road — one day will be a community of renters and home­owners. The neighborhood will be renamed Parkview Village and have a small boutique.

"We are trying to create a community that people can be proud to live in and have some dignity," Rivera said. And, Rivera said, "we are attempting to do this without any federal subsidies."

Work could start as soon as next year.

• • •

Retrofitting the Homer Villas complex was not financially feasible, Rivera said. Not all of the units were occupied. The 48 families who moved out by February 2007 got vouchers to get government-subsidized housing from private landlords.

To purchase Homer Villas, Habitat took out a bank loan, officials said. The agency hopes to obtain funding from the city of Clearwater and Pinellas County to pay off the loan.

So far, Habitat has developed one other similar large-scale project in the county: Midtown Green, which has 30 homes in St. Petersburg.

It also is developing 19 townhomes called Shady Grove on Howell Street near Martin Luther King Avenue in Dunedin. The 3 acres were owned by the Dunedin Housing Authority.

Habitat officials are taking applications for both the Dunedin and Clearwater projects, Spoor said. He said the tenants who left Homer Villas will be given preference if they apply to buy one of the new homes.

Besides the financial requirements to get a no-interest mortgage from Habitat, people must put in "sweat equity," by helping to build their homes.

Habitat officials say they plan to do more large-scale projects.

In "doing subdivisions there is a greater ability for efficiencies in construction," Spoor said, "and a greater ability from the ground up to develop an attractive neighborhood."

Jose Cardenas can be reached at or (727) 442-4224.

>>fast facts

How to apply

Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County is looking for applicants for new homes in Clearwater and Dunedin. To learn more, call (727) 536-4755 or visit

Habitat's vision expands 04/09/08 [Last modified: Thursday, April 10, 2008 5:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. Sue Carlton: Job or family when a hurricane's coming — a very Florida conundrum


    It must seem as foreign to Northerners as shoveling snow is to those of us raised in the Sunshine State: The very-Florida conundrum of having to choose between work and family — between paycheck and personal safety — when a hurricane comes.

    A hurricane helps the rest of us acknowledge the police officers, paramedics, hospital personnel, public works employees and others who stay on the job despite the storm. 
  3. After Tampa concert, Arcade Fire members party, preach politics at Crowbar


    After waiting more than a decade for Arcade Fire’s first appearance in Tampa, fans didn’t have to wait long for their second.

    DJ Windows 98, a.k.a. singer Win Butler of Arcade Fire, performed at a "Disco Town Hall" at Crowbar following the band's concert at the USF Sun Dome on Sept. 22, 2017.
  4. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa


    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  5. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.