Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Habitat Brings Special Home Building Project to St. Johns

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Habitat Brings Special Home Building Project to St. Johns

Article excerpt

Byline: SHAWNA SUNDIN, The Times-Union

ST. AUGUSTINE -- Rose Robinson has trouble walking. She's 64, has arthritis and has had a knee replaced. Getting up the deteriorating steps of the small house she rents is a daily struggle. But it's a challenge she soon won't have to deal with anymore.

Robinson is one of the first people to go through a new program Habitat for Humanity of St. Augustine/St. Johns County has started in which the organization builds new houses for people living in substandard ones. People with monthly incomes of $500 to $700 who are at least 60 years old or disabled are eligible for the program.

Robinson will be the first person to live in an interim house Habitat built for people to reside in while their new homes are built. Habitat on Friday dedicated the interim house St. Johns County employees helped build. Robinson moves in at the end of the month.

"To tell you the truth I'm actually speechless I'm so excited," Robinson said. "I guess I can just say thank God."

People in the program who own the land where they live move in with a friend, family member or into the interim house while the county demolishes their dilapidated home. Then Habitat volunteers, staff, subcontractors and future homeowners earning sweat equity build them a new house on their land. The person then owns the new home and pays for it through an interest-free mortgage with Habitat.

Habitat also can buy land to build homes for people in the program, adding the land cost into their mortgage, said Diane Quick, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of St. Augustine/St. Johns County.

Robinson's daughter is giving land in West Augustine that she owns to her mother for Habitat to build her new house. Robinson is paying $250 a month in rent and will be paying a roughly $125 monthly mortgage for her new home, Quick said.

In the meantime Robinson will stay in the interim house where she only has to pay for monthly utilities and local phone service.

"The house I'm in now has good qualities and it has bad qualities," Robinson said. "The steps are falling down. I won't have to worry about trying to get up and down those steps. …

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