Habitat for Humanity comes to Glades

County OKs program, which has first sponsor for a home

There had been talk that Habitat for Humanity wanted to expand into Glades County, and it became actual news this week when a partnership with Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity was on the county board agenda for commissioners’ consideration at their meeting Tuesday.

Interim county manager Joe Helfenberger recommended that the board approve a resolution drawn up to let the Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity organization (CCHFH) proceed with plans to build its first house for a Glades County resident. The resolution certifies that CCHFH’s program for the construction of housing for low- and very low-income people is consistent with local plans and regulations and agrees that the county will be a partner.

Mr. Helfenberger said he’d met with CCHFH Chief Executive Officer Mike Mansfield and Gabrielle Reineck, senior director of outreach, to discuss their programs and learned that they are aligned with the Florida State Housing Initiatives Partnership (or SHIP) Program guidelines. Glades County staff has been very active in utilizing SHIP financing to assist county residents who fall within the program’s income guidelines in building homes or repairing their existing residence.

In neighboring Charlotte County, Mr. Helfenberger said, Habitat has built more than 400 homes in the past 30 years, which is as long as it has existed, and the program has resulted in a 96 percent successful home ownership rate.

Ms. Reineck explained that the Charlotte County Habitat organization participates in a special state partnership called the Community Contribution Tax Credit Program (CCTCP), through which the State of Florida sets aside collected sales tax money to be used to help citizens establish affordable homeownership. Through the program, local businesses that collect taxes (mostly sales tax) reinvest those tax dollars into their own communities through Habitat for Humanity.

“It’s been able to help us exponentially grow our home production, so we’d like permission to be able to utilize this program in Glades County as well,” Ms. Reineck told the board. “We already have secured our first corporate sponsor, Wallace International (Trucks of Fort Myers), so they want to sponsor the first home in Glades County utilizing this program.”

“All right, well, that sounds great,” responded County Board Chairman John Ahern.

Mr. Helfenberger added that the revenue for the CCTCP comes out of the state sales tax revenue fund, not revenue from the additional 1 cent that counties have been allowed to add.

“So you would not be losing any local sales tax,” Mr. Helfenberger explained.

Commissioner Donna Storter Long made a motion to approve the resolution, and Commissioner Tim Stanley seconded. It passed unanimously.

“I’m hoping we can utilize some of the county lots that we have, and they’re zoned and they’re on sewer and stuff,” Mr. Ahern said, referring to properties in the county that are either to be bought by Glades County or be sold at public auction for back taxes.

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