NewsPinellas County


Ozanam Village brings more affordable housing to Pasco County

30 new units unveiled and more expected in near future
Judah Garcia.jpg
Posted at 5:39 AM, May 26, 2021

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — The simple pleasures of life for army veteran Judah Garcia mean everything these days.

"For the last two years we have all been grieving and things just got really hard," Garcia said.

He's widowed two times over. His second wife passed away before their child together could even walk.

Garcia was the breadwinner before his wife died. He worked two jobs to make sure his family was cared for, but after her death, he found himself struggling to make ends meet.

"I couldn't work. Now, I'm everything. Now, I'm mom, dad. I can't go work fourteen hours a day anymore," Garcia said.

Skyrocketing rent prices didn't help either.

"The place that we moved into was awful. It was a bad neighborhood. It was a dangerous neighborhood and I tried to get out of there for about six months and we couldn't find anything," Garcia said.

That's when St. Vincent de Paul CARES stepped in.

A recommendation, a little paperwork and Garcia was in a home he could be proud of.

"Getting a hand up and being able to stand on your own two feet. It's a perfect starting point for that," Garcia said.

He's one of dozens who are benefiting from Ozanam Village, affordable housing units in Pasco County.

Michale Raposa is the CEO of St. Vincent de Paul CARES and said the units are a game-changer for those searching for an affordable place to live.

"We only charge 30% of their income so if they're only making $900 a month we only can charge $300, less than $300 for a one-bedroom," Raposa said.

In three year's time close to 100 affordable units have been made available for families like Garcia's, but that's just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the bigger picture.

"In Pasco County, we are hundreds of units behind the eight ball. Hundreds. We couldn't build it fast enough," Raposa said.

On Tuesday, phase three of Ozanam Village was officially revealed.

Raposa said it's a start. For people like Garcia it's a new beginning.

"What it means to us is hope to me," Garcia said.

For more information about rentals at Ozanam Village click here.