NewsPrice of Paradise


Tampa Bay area programs working to offer immediate affordable housing relief

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Posted at 7:08 PM, Aug 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-27 08:11:39-04

VALRICO, Fla. — A new home is more than Terri Hughes ever dreamed was possible.

"I’ve never had my own bathroom or bedroom in my life and I’m 67," said Hughes.

But now she has both in a brand new two bedroom, two bath home in Valrico.

"I’m overwhelmed with joy," said Hughes.

That's because, for the last 30 years, she had been living in a dilapidated, termite-ridden home on the same property.

"My house started to collapse, and then Irma came, and my floor dropped two inches in the middle of the night, so yeah, it was scary," said Hughes.

She said it was even scarier that she could not afford to live somewhere else, but then help came.

"It's very, very difficult for families to afford housing at this time, so preservation of housing is key," said Cheryl Howell, assistant Hillsborough County administrator for Equity and Community Impact.

The new home is part of a program with Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay and Hillsborough County that replaces low-quality homes with new homes.

The home is mortgage-free as long as the family stays 20 years, a move the county said is designed to provide affordable housing for multiple generations.

"There’s help out there. There are good, good people out there that care," said Hughes.

People like Lauren Bowen, who is the project manager of a new collaboration in Manatee and Sarasota counties, want to find immediate, affordable housing solutions for people who are also being priced out of their homes.

"Even if we were to break ground on new units and new structures tomorrow, they wouldn’t be ready for a few years," said Bowen.

But a new Suncoast Housing Collaborative could possibly help hundreds of families in a matter of months. The idea is to offer incentives to landlords, including a $2,000 sign-up bonus for the first five units leased through the collaborative; and a $500 bonus for every tenant signed up after that.

"So this is a way that we can at least try to help the people right away while we still work on those other initiatives as well," said Bowen

And Hughes said the key is to know there is hope.

"For other people out there, I just encourage them, don’t be too embarrassed to ask for help, because it's out there," said Hughes.

For more information on Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay, click here.

For more information on Suncoast Partnership, click here.

As Tampa Bay continues to attract new residents and businesses, the impact of living in paradise comes at a cost for all of us— from the increasing cost of housing and infrastructure to utilities and insurance. ABC Action News is committed to helping you and your family make the most of your money and navigate through the Price of Paradise.