St. Pete offering free help to encourage homeownership

Posted at 6:37 PM, Mar 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-16 19:27:53-04

There’s a big push in St. Petersburg to help more people buy homes. Right now, the city is expanding a program to help you get the money and help you need to get started. 

The program is so popular hundreds of people are on waiting lists.

Thursday, St. Petersburg city council leaders voted to add another $70,000 (to total $140,000) to the money given to Neighborhood Home Solutions and Tampa Bay Community Development Corp., allowing them to help more people with free homeowner education and counseling support.

Both programs have seen a huge spike in people wanting to learn more about homeownership and figuring out how to work through the complicated process of buying a home. 

Marlon Hanna is one of the most recent graduates of the program. A dad of two young girls, age 2 and 8, Hanna always dreamed of owning a home for his daughters to call their own. Sometimes he has to pinch himself that it actually happened.

“It’s surreal. I’m still waking up every morning thinking wow, it happened," he said.

With very little credit, Hanna didn’t know if he’d ever get the keys to his dream home. Until he stepped into the St. Pete Neighborhood Home Solutions office at 1600 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St S. 

Roberta Bell and Deborah Scanlan have helped walk Hanna and thousands of others through the process. Recently the office phone hasn't stopped ringing. Hundreds of people are hoping to get free help filling out paperwork, working with lenders and sealing the deal. 

Once they finish the program, the city offers up interest free loans for 10 percent of the home cost, and $4,000 in cash for a down payment. Despite your income level, there are plenty of programs to help with down payments on homes. 

As rent prices spike across Tampa Bay, the demand for the program keeps going up.

The more buyers, the more folks taking pride in our community, the city says. People who are like Hanna, and who’s now teaching his girls how to eventually buy a home of their own too. 

You can learn more about the program by calling 727-821-6897 or emailing

The program at Neighborhood Home Solutions focuses on financial fitness, homebuyer education, credit rebuilding, post purchase counseling, foreclosure intervention and mortgage delinquency. 

There are also several homebuyer education courses coming up on April 8th, May 20th, June 17th, July 15th, August 19th, September 16th, October 21st, November 18th and December 9th. All classes are held at the Homeownership Center at 1600 Dr. MLK Jr. St. S. in St Pete. You're asked to register for the course at least one week in advance. 



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