Pinellas Park woman uses county programs to help secure her first home

Residents encouraged to use County programs

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - They say that a house is not a home until it is filled with love. Leslie O'Rien has more than enough love to go around her house.

"I love my new home. I absolutely love it," said O'Rien, smiling.

And it all started with a simple form that is part of Pinellas County's Homebuyer Information Program.

Jane Muhrlin, with Pinellas County's Community Development department explained who the program targets.

"The county is a great resource for families and individuals who may be thinking about home ownership.  We have various programs that are available to us that we are able to put out into the community," Muhrlin said.

Leslie utilized the county's first time homebuyer program, then educated herself about the process through the county's homebuyer education classes and ultimately was able to secure financing with the assistance of the Housing Finance Authority of Pinellas County.  The process is not a handout, but a helping hand.

Leslie became informed and eager to tackle the challenges of first time home-buying.

"I did a lot of work to get where I am.  Don't think that you pick up the phone and you call somebody like Jane and they come and they cart you away; and the next thing you know the moving van is moving you into your house.  It was a lot of work on my part," said O'Rien.

A lot of work indeed.  But her efforts certainly have their rewards.

"I love this home because it's my home.  I can do what I want to do.  I can put whatever window treatments I want on, I can put what I want on the walls.  Real stove, real refrigerator, great!" explained O'Rien as she proudly showed amenities that were not part of her previous rental residence.

One of the things that Leslie loves most about the new home, is what lies just beyond the fence on the side of the house.

"The back yard.  Huge beautiful fenced-in back yard for my dog," said O'Rien.

Muhrlin thinks others should be encouraged by the results that Leslie had with the programs.

"We would certainly welcome the opportunity to help people that may not think that they have an opportunity to purchase a home, but they do," she said.

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