Homes of Their Own

By Robert Plunket October 29, 2008

We’ve all heard of Habitat for Humanity, but what are the houses like? What do they cost? Am I eligible? Do I want to volunteer? And where’s their thrift shop?

Click here to see our Real Estate Junkie discuss Habitat for Humanity on TV. 

First of all, in keeping with the organization’s philosophy of building simple, low-cost dwellings, the Habitat for Humanity homes in Sarasota are wood frame with siding, and have from 2 to 4 bedrooms. They can be located in special Habitat communities (like Jordan’s Crossing just east of Tuttle Elementary) or as infill homes in established neighborhoods. There is also a group of new “green” houses on Central Avenue that are just being completed.


They range from $95,000 to around $120,000 but since they are financed in special ways, these figures don’t mean quite what they would in the regular housing market.


Who’s eligible? In Sarasota County you need a minimum household income of around $18,000 and a maximum of $41,000. Family size affects income restrictions, but these figures are a general guideline. The down payment is $1,650, plus 300 hours of “sweat equity”, meaning you have to help build the house. But lots of volunteers help, and that’s the fun part. (BTW, the mortgage is interest free.)


The program is especially good for low-income families who are currently living in substandard housing, or paying outrageous rents (believe me, one of the tragedies of American housing is the way low-income people are forced to pay high rents to live in dumps.) A stable household atmosphere is a plus. Habitat is looking for people who are in it for the long haul and want to raise their families as part of a community. They have special classes to help you over the hurdles of owning a home: how to budget, provide maintenance, pay taxes, etc.


I find Jordan’s Crossing a pleasant place to live, and very well kept. My only complaint would be the landscaping – there isn’t much of it. Maybe somebody should start Landscaping for Humanity.


If you’re looking for a project for your church or service club, Habitat is perfect. Put a group together and help build a house. All skill levels are welcome and you may even pick up some carpentry skills. Katie Moulton and Eileen Curd put a group together (all women) and they were all out there last Saturday at 7:30 a.m. This being Sarasota they had special pink hardhats.

For more info about Habitat call 941-365-0700.

And check out the thrift shop on 17th St just east of 301. (2095 17th St.) They have the best selection of used couches in town (just furniture, no clothes), plus a separate building crammed with used appliances, doors, windows, lighting fixtures, etc.


Finally, if you like old bungalows, this is a special weekend. Saturday, Nov. 1 is the annual BungalowFest in Kenwood, up in St Pete, just west of Tropicana Field. Kenwood has one of the best collection of Craftsman bungalows in the country, over 1,000 of them, and this is the weekend ten of them are open to the public. DO NOT MISS THIS. For directions, etc, go to their website, Special bonus: this year they have vintage travel trailers from the 1940s and 50s.


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