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Habitat for Humanity to clean up blighted Pasco neighborhoods and create affordable housing

Posted: 5:37 PM, Feb 21, 2018
Updated: 2018-02-21 22:37:41Z

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — West Pasco Habitat for Humanity’s new partner opened its checkbook Tuesday to help redevelop the Van Doren Avenue and Leisure Lane neighborhood west of U.S. 19.

Pasco commissioners agreed to lend $500,000 from a reserve account to West Pasco Habitat for Humanity to redevelop Van Doren Avenue and Leisure Lane in West Pasco.

They will continue its efforts to acquire and demolish dilapidated structures and rebuild single-family homes in the neighborhood known as Town & Country Villas.

Habitat bought 17 properties in January and still owes $176,000 on the $200,000 acquisition. It has 13 additional properties under contract for nearly $165,000 and is negotiating to acquire a dozen more. It plans to build 35 houses on the 42 parcels and expects to have its first single-family home completed by October.

The two-street neighborhood is dotted with empty lots amid aging mobile homes, several of which date to the 1950s. Some have exposed insulation and other visible signs of deterioration, and many sport ‘‘No trespassing’’ signs. Complaints about drug use and street-walking prostitution are common.

Cleaning up the area has become the focus of a year-long effort by the county and city of New Port Richey to contain crime and eliminate blight. The area is west of U.S. 19 near Gulf Drive, and is adjacent to the Southgate shopping district in the city and the upscale Gulf Harbors neighborhood in the county.

It will be cheaper for residents to buy the newly built houses than to rent one of the aging mobile homes that can cost a tenant up to $650 a month.

Town & Country Villas is the first time West Pasco Habitat for Humanity has attempted a neighborhood-wide redevelopment. Under the terms of the loan, the agency must repay the debt by 2021.

Commission Chairman Mike Wells said he hoped the effort can be repeated in Moon Lake.