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Local nonprofit tackles affordable housing crisis one home at a time

The director of housing services for Bright Community Trust says the demand for affordable housing is exploding.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Finding affordable housing is an extreme challenge these days. But one non-profit is taking that challenge head on. 

Bright Community Trust’s team and Hillsborough County officials celebrated their first Community Land Trust (CLT) home Thursday, which sold for $163,000. According to Realtor.com the average sales price in the Tampa area is $250,000.

“I’m getting ready to move into my new home,” are words that grandmother of six Sabrina Teel couldn’t wait to say. 

“This house is quality and affordable for me and my family," she adds. 

After visiting more than 70 homes, Teel applied to the Community Land Trust program leading her to her new, affordable home. The four bedroom, two bathroom home costs $163,000.

Marquaz McGhee, director of housing services for Bright Community Trust, says the demand for affordable housing is exploding.

“If you talk to any real estate agent, there is a huge vacuum from anywhere from $120,000 to $190,000 for homes,” McGhee said.

Bright Community Trust is an experienced 501c3 nonprofit organization that has been working to build stronger communities in Florida since 2008. The nonprofit teamed up with Hillsborough County officials to try and fill that vacuum space.

So how can you check if you qualify for the Community Land Trust program?

McGhee says first go to thebrighway.org and see if your household income qualifies. There are income limits relative to the number of people living in your home. One example is a single person making less than $37,450. 

Next, if you do qualify, fill out an affordable housing application. If accepted, then you select a lender, a home and take a required eight-hour long homebuyer education class. 

Once you complete that, then you can close the deal.

“A lot of people will qualify for the program, they just have to come in and talk to us, we sit down, do a budget, we talk to them about improving their budget to qualify them for the lowest interest rates, which helps with the affordability of the home,” McGhee said.

As for Teel, she says this affordable home is a life-changing move that will help her six grandchildren living with her get off on the right foot.

“It feels like home," Teel said. "This particular house has all the qualities and everything we were looking for, we appreciate it and are grateful for everything."

The Community Land Trust program aims to help 20-25 families a year and is expanding into Polk County soon. You can learn more at their website.

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