Families celebrate homeownership

“We Are So Happy to Be In Our New Neighborhood”

(Naples, FL, Jan. 18, 2016)-Several hundred members of the Habitat for Humanity of Collier County community turned out to celebrate success in Immokalee this weekend.

Kids will have hours of fun playing basketball at the Faith Landing neighborhood. (Submitted Photo)

Kids will have hours of fun playing basketball at the Faith Landing neighborhood. (Submitted Photo)

From family members to neighbors to donors to volunteers to staff members, the Faith Landing community came out– in fellowship, food and fun on Saturday morning. Thirty-two new homeowners were celebrated for their hard work leading up to their homeownership, while 14 other families marked another kind of happy milestone, paying off their interest-free Habitat mortgages.

“We are so happy to be in our new neighborhood,’’ said Peggy Rodriguez, one of the homeowners whose house was dedicated Saturday. “We are so happy to be part of the Habitat family.”

In Immokalee, the Habitat family continues to grow with a renewed effort to attract qualified applicants with more visibility throughout the community. Many families throughout Collier County face $1,300 per month rent payments for small, crowded apartments or high payments for one bedroom in a rental house or even converted garages.

With the affordable housing crisis crunch in Naples and Immokalee, Habitat Collier is working hard to help deserving families buy a safe, decent home with an interest-free mortgage. Right now, Habitat Collier can only pay for the construction of one home for every 15 families that apply. Applicants go through an extensive background check to make sure they are financially able to handle a mortgage and they are required to put in 500 hours of “sweat equity,” which includes working at the construction site and taking homeownership classes.

On Saturday, the homeowners were praised for their hard work and determination and given a little extra help to upkeep their new homes. Florida First Integrity Bank donated a lawnmower to each of the 32 families and $100 gift certificates to homeowners who paid off their mortgages. In addition, Monica and Garth Wurstle of Encore Cabinet & Design donated two basketball hoops for the community. And, as part of Habitat tradition, the families received a housewarming basket, a coat rack and books and book shelves for the children donated by Collier Books for Kids and the Christ Child Society.

Sam Durso, Chief Executive Officer of Habitat Collier, told the crowd how proud he was of the Habitat families and the staff. Durso, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, said he was pleased to see the spectacular work he’d been involved in for decades continue and grow.

“I think I’ll be here a long time and see all of you new families,’’ he said.

In addition to the keys to their own new homes, families also received a lawnmower to help them keep them neat and tidy. (Submitted photo)

In addition to the keys to their own new homes, families also received a lawnmower to help them keep them neat and tidy. (Submitted photo)

Naomi and Mateo Sebastian and their son, 2-year-old Nathaniel, live in Faith Landing and they’ve learned what it’s like to live in a real neighborhood.

“Our neighbors are wonderful,’’ Naomi Sebastian said. “Their kids are like my own kids.”

She credited Habitat Collier with helping her family succeed through the application to the move-in process.

“They are wonderful,’’ she said. “They opened their arms to us.”

For more information about homes in Immokalee, call 239-657-4466. There is a model home available for viewing in Faith Landing.

In Naples, call 239-775-0036 to learn about applying for a home, to volunteer, to donate or help spread the word.

The Immokalee Bulletin is published every Thursday.

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