PINELLAS PARK, Fla. — Monday marked a big step toward providing more affordable housing to families in Pinellas Park. Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties, sponsors and elected officials celebrated the groundbreaking of the Tellor Estates, a 75-lot affordable housing project.

The project is the largest development yet in the area and is at the northeast corner of 68th Street and 62nd Avenue North.

We’re proud to share our parent company TEGNA partnered with Habitat for Humanity, providing them with a $30,000 grant to help the Tellor Estates project get started.

“What's it's going to do is it's going to allow us to get this property ready to go to build homes on. You can see it's wooded, so it's going to take a lot of clearing. We're going to have to do some infrastructure improvements and upgrades, sidewalks, roads and that sort of thing. So, the funds are just going to help fast forward that part of the process,” Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County CEO Mike Sutton said.

In order for families to qualify for a home, they must be able to pay back a zero-interest loan, demonstrate a need for shelter and invest more than 350 hours in helping Habitat for Humanity.

“I am really excited about building a home and my daughter having a stable home to stay in,” future homeowner Nathalia Richards said.

Habitat for Humanity provides zero-interest mortgages, which make the $150,000-$200,000 homes more affordable.

“Habitat will initially build 51 new affordable energy efficient homes with 15 of the homes starting to be built in just a few weeks,” Sutton said.

Affordable housing has been in the headlines recently as more projects pop up hoping to chip away at the exploding demand. Hillsborough County and Pinellas County are investing more than $10 million over the next decade. Tampa’s new mayor Jane Castor created a study group to address the problem, and St Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman said officials are working to include it in new development.

Just how expensive are housing costs getting? According to the Pinellas County Housing Finance Authority, a two-bedroom apartment costs more than $1,000; but to afford utilities on that, a household must make $3,300 a month to avoid paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing. That’s just not realistic to most of the middle class. But for Nathalia, she’s thankful for the help she got from Habitat for Humanity to make it happen.

“It was a challenge but with the help from Habitat for Humanity working with me through the whole journey, they made it very easy for me,” Nathalia said.

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