Manatee County nonprofit to ease housing crisis with 53 affordable … – Bay News 9

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TAMPA, Fla. — Dozens of new affordable housing units are coming to Manatee County to ease the housing problem. It’s going to be called Hope Village.
"Forty-one percent of all households in Manatee County are struggling to make ends meet. Housing right now is very expensive, and it’s just insurmountable for those 41% of households, and more and more people are becoming homeless every day," says Margie Genter, who is on the board of the non-profit spearheading this project.
She explains that they not only help with housing but also provide educational tools that tenants must participate in to stay in the program.
Amy Whidden is thankful for simple things like playing catch with her children. Her family couldn’t enjoy activities like this in the past because of their living situation.
“I was actually living in the Salvation Army, in the shelter with my three children," she shares.
Whidden and her family were forced to live in a shelter in December of 2021. Eleven months later, she saw a flyer for the nonprofit, Help to Home, and she has now been living in this home for almost a year.
Help to Home provides housing for those close to homelessness or already homeless. It also helps people prepare for the future.
"Each week I, meet with my financial advisor and we will make a plan," Whidden says.
It was always a challenge for her to manage a budget and save money until now.
“It has helped tremendously. I’ve never had more than $500 in my savings, and now I have five figures in my savings, so it definitely has helped me learn a lot,” she said.
Tenants must also earn a living and participate in vocational training to learn life skills.
The nonprofit plans to build 53 duplex-style units in northwest Bradenton. Rent would be $950 a month, which is below market value, according to the group. Families can live there for a maximum of two years.
After their time in the program, families should be equipped to find and afford their forever home, thanks to what they learned from the financial and vocational training.
According to the program, 86% of people who leave after two years have found permanent housing, a goal that Whidden has envisioned for years.
"The future looks very bright for us as a family. We eventually own a home, but for right now, as long as we stay out of a homeless shelter, it’s very bright for us,” she said.
A bright future on the path to finding their forever home.
The first phase of construction will cost $7.7 million, expected to begin in January. And 2025 is the expected year that the non-profit will house families.


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