New Habitat homes to be built on 2 donated Moore Haven lots

MOORE HAVEN — Glades County has conveyed two lots it owned in Moore Haven to Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte County for construction of its first two affordable homes here, and the organization says roughly 20 people already have expressed interest in applying to become Habitat homeowners. The transfer was suggested by Cindy Ricker, the county’s coordinator for the State Housing Incentive Program (SHIP), and approved by county commissioners in September. Mike Mansfield, chief executive of the nonprofit, told the board several weeks back that its agreement for a partnership the county board previously had approved was submitted to state officials and OK’d, allowing the Habitat project to proceed.

Habitat for Humanity (HFH) workers and volunteers will build two single-family houses on adjoining lots at 184 and 199 Avenue M, sponsored by Wallace International, according to Ms. Ricker’s report to the county board. “They are really nice lots,” she said, noting that they already had sewer service extended to the properties.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy of Charlotte County HFH
Two Habitat houses will be built on these adjoining county-donated lots in Moore Haven.

Commissioner Donna Storter Long asked whether conveying the lots to HFH would affect the tax rolls, speculating they’d no longer be taxable, but County Attorney Richard Pringle corrected her. He also assured her the new homes would definitely be built because otherwise the Charlotte County HFH could jeopardize its nonprofit status under state statute. She asked Mr. Mansfield about the timeline for construction, and he answered that “the lots are shovel-ready,” saying he’d been told that permits could be obtained fairly quickly and that his plans are to build very soon.

Commission Chairman John Ahern commended his and HFH’s efforts, and Mr. Mansfield replied he’d received “overwhelming support” from the community and that he hoped to see more.

The 2017 “just value” of the two lots was placed at $5,500 each.

Gabrielle Reineck, senior director of outreach for the Charlotte County HFH, explained that anyone who believes they might qualify can contact the organization for information. “If someone were interested in learning about the program, we would just ask that they call our office in Punta Gorda and then we can go over the program details with them. Our goal is to start before the end of the year,” she said.

They will be using local volunteers to help build the two homes but are not ready to seek help yet. “There are certain tasks that we hire out, like the site work, the mechanicals and the concrete work,” Ms. Reineck said. “We work with local subcontractors to perform those tasks, and then the rest of the home is done — but with the future homeowner doing their sweat equity and people assisting them, along with local volunteers.

“Part of the Habitat criteria is to perform 300 hours of sweat equity so they’re invested in themselves as well. We offer a hand up, not a handout. So they have to come and help build their house, and they’re allowed to have family and friends come help with that sweat equity as well” she related.

“Our goal is to have our first two homes built and occupied by the end of June 2019. We want to get these up and going,” Ms. Reineck went on, noting that they are seeking cash contributions in the area to help with the projects.

“Wallace International, our sponsor, will make a financial contribution and they will also be providing 200 hours of volunteerism on the home, they’ll work side by side with the local volunteers.”

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