Valrico resident Terri Hughes was presented the keys to her new home, constructed through a partnership between Hillsborough County and Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay.

When Valrico resident Terri Hughes reached out to local nonprofit Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay (RTTB) for financial assistance in repairing her roof and air conditioning unit, the organization did her one better: They built her a new home.

In partnership with Hillsborough County and its Reconstruction and Replacement Program, contractors tore down her decaying wood-frame home, constructed in 1955, to make room for the new structure, a 1,217-square-foot, concrete-block home featuring two bedrooms and two baths. The new digs, costing $225,000 to build and taking nine months to construct, are fitted with a walk-in shower in the master bedroom, stainless steel appliances and all of the latest energy-saving technologies.

Hughes, who has been living in an apartment during the home’s construction, was teary-eyed when presented with the keys to her new home.

“It’s an indescribable feeling knowing I will not need to worry about the flooring coming loose or falling through it and the roof no longer caving in on us,” she said.

Hughes had moved into her former home in 1988. A single parent, she worked in the construction industry to support her small family. She now has a grandson, Trace Thomas, whom she has raised since he was born in 2003. As her health declined, she was unable to work, making finding the money needed for her home’s repairs more difficult. She frequently volunteered with RTTB, hoping one day it could help her.

Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay executive director Jose Garcia said when he heard about Hughes and saw her wood-frame home, he knew she would be a good candidate for the project, which addresses affordable single-family homes while most other projects focus on multiunit homes. Hughes will not have to pay a mortgage. Instead, a lien will be placed on the home for 20 years, after which time the lien will be forgiven. This is done to ensure the home stays in Hughes’ family to provide affordable housing for generations to come.

“She has trusted us with her most valuable asset,” said Garcia. “No matter how many times we make dreams a reality for area families, it gives me such satisfaction to see the look of happiness on their faces when we finally hand them the keys to their new home.”

For more information about Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay, visit For more information about Hillsborough County’s Affordable Housing Services, call 813-246-3150 or visit

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MIchelle Caceres has been writing for the Osprey Observer for seventeen years. She enjoys writing human interest pieces about inspiring members of the community who are working to better our community. She lives in FishHawk Ranch with her husband and recently became an empty-nester. When not writing, Michelle is serving her church community, reading and enjoying Florida's weather.