Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County has built more than 350 homes since 1985, and the Ortega family is one of their latest success stories. This once vacant lot now holds a new single-family Energy Star-rated home – helping to rebuild a neighborhood, as well as add property taxes for the City of Pinellas Park. The property is in a mid-county location, convenient to schools and work.
The new owners and their two children had lived in a small rental house, where appliances were old. The inefficient AC unit often led to utility bills soaring over $500 a month. Their combined income falls below 80-percent of the AMI – he works as a cook at a restaurant and she works part-time as a machine operator while going to school. The couple attended homeowner classes including financial education and understanding mortgage documents. They were required to work 350 sweat equity hours, with 100 hours on their home. Just 60 days after signing their partnership agreement, they completed their first 100 hours. They have been married for 24 years, became US Citizens in March 2015, and now are proud homeowners. Habitat’s zero interest mortgage means the family’s monthly payment will be affordable and in line with their modest income.