Nonprofit Builders of Hope breaks ground in St. Petersburg

68 homes are being completely renovated

More than 60 homes are getting fixed up in St. Petersburg.
It's part of one of the biggest affordable-housing projects in the Tampa Bay area in years.
"The floor joists were messed up, water damage, termites," said Kenny Lapka, listing the problems with one of the properties.
Lapka works for local construction group Bettencourt Construction. They are one of a handful of contractors making a difference with the help of the nonprofit Builders of Hope.
The organization wants to fix hundreds of problems with 68 homes in the next 90 days.
"It’s bringing excitement into the community," Lapka said.
Builders of Hope broke ground this week, renovating distressed properties around Midtown and Childs Park, turning them into affordable housing.
Five of the 68 homes are up for sale already, with five new ones hitting the market every two weeks.
"We feel like we're giving back to the community when we're doing something like this," said Bryan Bettencourt.
He said the majority of the homes they’ve worked on have been disasters. If it wasn’t for the city’s agreement with Builders of Hope, many would either end up demolished or sit vacant and boarded up for many years to come. Each home receives nearly $25,000 in renovations.
A few are already complete and on the market, including a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home at 1745 44th St. S. listed last week for $89,500.
Sixteen of the homes have occupants, even though they were sold to the nonprofit as being vacant. Officials will work with those occupants to house them while renovations are completed.
The nonprofit will replace any roof with less than five years of usefulness left, he said, and put cages around air conditioners, since most of the units at the other homes were stripped.
They also will try to reuse whatever materials they can. Officials say the majority of the homes should be finished by the end of August.
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