In the next couple of months, Habitat for Humanity will start building a dream home for Army National Guardsman Chris Blackmon and his family. It’s a labor of love the agency plans to complete in a mere seven days.
“They were a good fit,” Melissa Winstead, Habitat’s development director, said of the Blackmons.
“That’s really exciting,” she said of finishing construction of a home in a matter of a week. Of course, whether they meet their self-imposed deadline depends largely on the weather and receiving all the necessary permits and inspections.
To that end, the City of Port St. Lucie has stepped up its partnership with Habitat. City Manager Russ Blackburn has directed his staff to expedite the project while ensuring all is done safely and properly.
The City Council last week approved assigning seven city-owned residential lots to Habitat for home construction following a selection process.
“We would like to thank the City of Port St. Lucie and the council for this endorsement and support of affordable home ownership in Port St. Lucie,” Habitat’s Executive Director Bob Calhoun told the council at the time of the unanimous vote. “This will go a long way to increasing that supply of affordable and permanent housing for our citizens. So, thank you.”
All seven lots once held condemned homes that – in most cases – have been demolished. They are all located in the 34952 and 34953 ZIP code areas.
Habitat is working with the Treasure Coast Builders Association to build the home for the Blackmon family, which includes veteran Blackmon, his wife, Latasha, and three children ranging in age from 9 to infant.
Port St. Lucie’s requirements for affordable housing construction are a little higher than those Habitat typically builds to, but Winstead is confident the agency can meet the requirements with minimal problems.
“It’s not going to be difficult to achieve,” she said, explaining that one modification will be installing a two-car garage instead of Habitat’s typical one-car garage.
While Habitat for Humanity continues to search for volunteers to help with the build – not just for the Blackmon home – the group is also seeking financial donations, materials including landscaping and shower enclosures, and corporate partners.
More than two dozen such companies have already pledged their support for the Blackmon project, according to Winstead.
The challenge has also been posed to the Port St. Lucie City Council.
“Whatever you can do, we appreciate,” Treasure Coast Builders Association Executive Director Maddie Williams told the council last week, adding that they need not be skilled builders. Instead, they could help paint or even serve lunch to the volunteers.
Winstead said there is a large need for affordable housing in Port St. Lucie. The typical rent for a 2-bed 2-bath home runs over $1,000. A 3-bedroom, 2-bath Habitat home, however, carries a 15- or 20-year mortgage of about $750.
“Habitat makes such a huge difference,” she said, explaining that 46 percent of the residents are financially insecure. By providing a lower-cost housing solution, Habitat homeowners have more money left at the end of the month they can either save or use uildito offset other expenses.
Leveraging community support and sweat equity from the homeowners, Habitat can build a new home that appraises between $140,000 and $150,000, Winstead said.
As for the Blackmon home, Habitat expects to start building sometime in August. The remaining six homes will be completed as resources become available. Per the agreement with the city, Habitat has two years to build those six houses.
Where the Habitat homes will be:
- 502 NW Sherbrook Ave.
- 141 NE Surfside Ave.
- 696 SW Heather St.
- 601 SW Seagull Terrace
- 1568 SE Faculty Court
- 1573 SE Faculty Court
- 470 SW Asbury Lane.
Anyone who wants to donate or volunteer or otherwise partner with Habitat for Humanity is encouraged to contact Melissa Winstead by calling 772-464-1117, ext. 103, or visit www.StLucieHabitat.org.
Those interested in being considered for a Habitat home are also encouraged to visit Habitat’s web site for more information.