For many people, the dream of owning their own home may seem impossible. With the prices of home sales skyrocketing in Florida, many people may feel that purchasing a home is simply out of their reach. However, Florida Home Partnership (FHP) has been helping families make their dreams of homeownership come true.
FHP has a legacy of helping hardworking, determined people find affordable housing. Founded in 1993 by Dorothy Duke, ‘Homes for Hillsborough, Inc.’ was created primarily to help find homes for migrant working families. The program was so successful that local officials wanted to expand it to other regions of the county. As it grew, Homes for Hillsborough changed its name to Florida Home Partnership, Inc. in July 2005.
FHP’s mission is to empower hardworking citizens to achieve the American dream of homeownership by providing quality, affordable housing to families living below the median income. Through innovative products, programs and sustainable, green building techniques, FHP is creating homeownership ability for low-income, working-class families as well as retired seniors on a limited income.
Vanessa Josey is the chief operating officer for FHP and she sees firsthand the changes this makes in people’s lives.
“For the past 19 years, it’s been an honor and a privilege to be part of a successful organization,” said Josey. “I love my job because everyone shares the same vision and is dedicated to the mission.”
Since 1997, FHP has assisted 940 self-help participants to build their own homes. Currently, FHP is building homes in Sunset at Bayou Pass Village in Ruskin. Many of the homes are ‘self-help participant’ homes where buyers are helped in the building process. Participants contribute a minimum of 600 hours of ‘sweat equity’ in the construction of their homes as well as the other homes in the neighborhood. This is a cost saving towards the mortgage of each participant. Families, friends, church members and co-workers are welcome to help accomplish labor requirements. They can perform a variety of tasks, such as painting, construction, debris removal and landscaping.
FHP is a nonprofit organization that utilizes primarily government grants and loans to support operations and development activities. With the popularity of FHP, there is a pending purchase of approximately 14 acres in the Wimauma downtown area to construct 38 villa housing units. As the needs continue to grow for affordable housing, FHP continues to keep up with the demand. In the last 24 months, more than 3,000 individuals have inquired about the program.
“I really wanted my children to grow up in a nice home,” said Marlen Gonzalez Vallin, one of FHP’s self-help participant homeowners. “This program is an answer to my prayers for me and my family.”