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City Leaders and Staff Help Build a House

The City of Largo held a work day for a Habitat for Humanity Home on land the city donated to the non-profit.

Creamy, white paint gradually coated the walls of the newly constructed home on Ridge Road NW. The tranquil waterfront view of Largo's Lake Villa Park made for a pleasant backdrop to a day of priming and painting for city staff and leaders at a home.

Volunteers for the March 2 workday included city commissioners and city staff from various departments.

"I love volunteering my time. I like to give to others. I feel as a city employee I should get out and do this to help the city I work in, in any shape or way I can," said Solid Waste Driver Doug Hunt.

The City of Largo donated the parcel to in 2010. The land was purchased by the city in 2006 through a federal Community Development Block Grant. The city planned to use the lot for parking for businesses on nearby Clearwater-Largo Road. After an engineering study, the city determined the lot was not big enough so the parcel just sat there, said Housing Manager Matt Anderson.

"In 2010, the city's Affordable Housing Advisory Committee did a survey of city-owned property to see if any would be conducive to building. (The federal government) agreed affordable housing would be an acceptable use for the lot (which was purchased with federal government monies) and the city gave the lot to Habitat for Humanity (with city commission approval)," Anderson said.

The almost finished home on Ridge Road NW is one of several built recently. In Largo, Pinellas Habitat for Humanity has built  five homes last year and three homes in 2010. The donated parcel on Ridge Road already has another Habitat home built on it, said Robert Reeves, Vice President of Homeowner Service for Pinellas Habitat for Humanity.

The home on Ridge Road will be complete in about a month. The homeowner candidate is Mili Soto. She has one daughter, Reeves said.

Two people are currently on a waiting list for homes in Largo. Homeowner candidate criteria include: 250 hours of sweat equity building houses (volunteer hours),  $500 toward closing costs, income eligibility, and completion of 13 homeownership classes, Reeves said.

Neighborhood improvements. The city plans other improvements for the Ridge Road NW area. A portion of the road is unpaved and the city housing department is currently working with engineering to improve the road and possibly add a sidewalk. The hope is to make a paved walkway for residents to access nearby Lake Villa Park, Anderson said.

Other sources of affordable housing. The city also gets parcels for affordable housing from banks. In the last two years, seven bank-owned homes have been donated to the city. In most cases the houses cannot be refurbished, so the city demolishes the homes and donates the lots to non-profits like Pinellas Habitat for Humanity for building affordable homes, Anderson said.

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