LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – As the recovery process continues in the Bahamas – safe housing remains an issue for residents and relief workers.
- Inmates turning shipping containers into shelters
- The containers will have bedding, electricity and air-conditioning
- Work will be completed in a couple of weeks
Hurricane Dorian’s category 5 winds wiped out structures leaving many people in tents and other make-shift structures.
That’s why the people at Habitat for Humanity came up with this solution – converting shipping containers into portable homes. With the help of inmate labor, these two containers will soon have bedding, electricity, and air conditioning.
Everyone involved says it’s a definite win-win.
“Get to utilize our time, and our work, and our efforts, and knowledge, and learn a few more skills, and something that could benefit us when we get out, and benefit the people of Abacos,” Lake County Inmate James Pool said.
Habitat for Humanity says it’ll use these two units as a prototype for all future disaster relief housing.
Work is expected to be completed in two weeks.
Citizens First Bank has vision.
Last year, they partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and The Villages Charter High School for the inaugural class of the Youth Construction Academy, they were the first to support the students in building a home, to encourage hands-on education, and to see the benefits: 12 students, future- ready and 1 family having the safety and stability of home for the first time.
Once again, Citizens First Bank has chosen to partner with the Youth Construction Academy and be the lead sponsor for the second year in a row; building the second home, supporting the next graduating class from the Villages Charter High School, and honoring their commitment as “a bank created specifically to fill the needs of our community.”
This week, the Villages Charter students begin framing the walls of the house they will build throughout the school year. From beginning to end, the students will have the opportunity to experience the hard work, planning, and details that go into building a home. During the project, students will work alongside Habitat’s construction staff and industry professionals; they’ll use methods they’ve learned in class to work on every phase of the build, including the foundation and framing, electricity, plumbing, windows, doors, flooring and painting.
Thanks to Citizens First Bank’s investment in the community we are able to not only educate the students on practical skills in the construction industry, but also what it means to be a good community member and to give back to those in need. Throughout the school year, we aim to offer our students hands on knowledge as well as the social understanding of the impact these homes will have on the lives of the families who will receive them.
“Success is a community of people who can rely on each other, people who joyously and enthusiastically strive to lift each other up on a personal level,” says Brad Weber, Chief Lending Officer at Citizens First. “This feeling is not only contagious, but also exponentially raises the confidence and productivity of each of us in a community, resulting in a much higher quality of life.”
Citizens First Bank is a major piece of the “good community” puzzle, partnering with Habitat Lake-Sumter to invest in tomorrow’s future generation; providing students a career option with a strong financial outlook for them to pursue, and working as a team to make our community a better place to live.
The Villages Habitat Club
Kevin Tucker has been a man of many trades throughout his life, but none have held on to his interest more than managing and rehabbing real estate. Now, the transplant from New York plans to bring his passion for property management to the Lake-Sumter chapter of Habitat for Humanity by starting a club in his adopted hometown, The Villages, FL.
Tucker, a part-time motorcycle enthusiast, has worked on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, drove a taxi, worked as a driving instructor and owned a laundromat, a dog wash and a large records storage company, all before venturing into the world of investment property while still in New York. There, he owned several properties which he enjoyed updating and where he did his own repairs. “I did everything I could myself, except the HVAC, which I contracted out,” says Tucker who also noted that he comes from a family full of roofers, siding hangers and construction workers.
Working on his businesses and his rental properties, coupled with his do-it-yourself attitude, honed a skill set that he says made Habitat for Humanity a natural fit. “When I was winding down my career in record-storage, I had more time for my rental properties and more time to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity,” says Tucker.
Tucker worked with a local chapter of Habitat in New York and picked up where he left off with his volunteerism when he moved to Florida. He noticed the potential right away, with more than 100,000 retirees in his new hometown, many of which would have skills or interest in helping out at Habitat, but he also noticed something peculiar.
“I’d run into people from the Villages at every Habitat build or function I attended,” says Tucker. “I’d see them once or twice and then they’d disappear.” Tucker believes that shows there’s plenty of interest among his fellow Villagers but, without a structure or format to keep them engaged, they likely become disconnected once their build or volunteer opportunity ends. Tucker plans to create that engagement with the Habitat Club and he’s already seen plenty of interest.
“I have about 40 people who’ve expressed interest in joining the club, just through word of mouth,” says Tucker who also noted that those joining don’t necessarily have or need a construction or trade background.
Tucker says they’ve already got their first assignment, once the club is up and running. “We’ll be assessing a couple of the Habitat Re-Stores to see how we can refresh them and update some of the landscaping.” The Villages Habitat Club will also be cutting playhouse materials for a new event, “Jingle Build-Off” in December.
Ultimately, he’d like to see the club tasked with their own build and have the club’s name attached to a house they complete in one of the surrounding communities. Until then Tucker says the club members will be available to Habitat in any way that benefits the organization and engages the club’s members.
If you are interested in learning more about The Villages Habitat Club, you’re encouraged to contact the club at VillagersHabitat@aol.com. Their first meeting will be held at the Sea Breeze Recreation Center at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, October 9th and Tucker says anyone interested is welcome to attend.
EUSTIS — Working to bolster aid efforts in the Bahamas following the destruction left by Hurricane Dorian, Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter has partnered again with Lake County inmates on a project meant to provide aid workers with temporary housing.
They started the project Monday with inmates enrolled in the Inmate Construction Academy and supplies donated by RoMac Building Supply. The plan, described by Habitat’s Senior Director of Development Danielle Stroud as an experiment, is to turn shipping containers into temporary housing.
“We have two shipping containers that we purchased that we’re going to turn into housing units,” said Shari Kuck, Habitat’s marketing and communications coordinator. They won’t be complex structures or offer many conveniences to aid workers, but they’ll provide air-conditioned shelter for up 16 people.
“It’s just somewhere for them to lay their heads down,” she said.
Stroud said that the experiment started to take form before Hurricane Dorian ever struck the islands to the south. Habitat CEO Kent Adcock started talks proactively among their leadership team and partners to prepare for possible aid missions in Lake County.
When the Bahamas was hit and the storm skirted Florida, they looked at the damage and thought they should try to help.
“It just turned out that a lot of people in this community have a lot of ties there,” Stroud said.
Some of their partners have homes in the Bahamas, she said, but are in a position where they are able to live without them or to rebuild them while they remain in Florida homes. Those partners wanted to focus on how to help out native Bahamians who lost a great deal more in the storm.
Hurricane Dorian hit parts of the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane.
To them, that meant providing infrastructure for the people on the ground helping in the Bahamas. They bought the containers and got to work.
LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – Four inmates from the Lake County Jail transformed two old shipping containers into temporary housing for workers who are clearing the destruction that was left by Hurricane Dorian in the Abaco Islands.
The inmates volunteered for the project and teamed up with Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter.
“It will be fully furnished with bunk beds, AC, totally off the grid. Everything they need to be a little comfortable while they’re on the island doing the good work they’re doing,” said Danielle Stroud, of Habitat for Humanity for Lake-Sumter.
Habitat for Humanity’s director of construction found the two old containers that will house 16 people on the islands. If the containers work, more could be made.
“And from there, we’ll test to see how well they work for what they’re needing, and from that, hopefully there is replication,” Stroud said.
The inmates will be back to help if more need to be made.
“This is something these guys can do to help out, to provide shelter and a safe place to sleep at night,” said Lt. John Herrel, of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
Not only are the inmates helping the people of the Bahamas recover, they are also rebuilding their own lives.
“They use their skill set, and they hone their skill set so that when they’re out of jail, they get a certificate with the house that they’ve donated documented on it, so we hope that will all play together to help get them employment,” Herrel said.
Habitat for Humanity said it hopes to have the containers ready to go in the next two weeks.
Hurricane Dorian Relief
Assist with recovery efforts after Dorian, your investment provides much needed support to the Islands of The Bahamas.
I’m very excited to return to the Board! It is remarkable how many things are happening in our affiliate and how many ways we’re interacting with our communities to address the need for affordable housing in Lake and Sumter Counties.
Why am I involved?
Because I believe that home ownership changes everything: the owner, the family, the local community, our schools, and our economy. It impacts physical, mental, and financial health. It supports local businesses and improves students’ academic success. And in the big picture, any area that wants to promote its quality of life must recognize that a safe, decent place to call ‘home’ is vital to everyone.
I’m involved with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter because they’re on the front lines of this issue. Making housing affordable—meaning that no more than 30% of monthly income goes to the mortgage, taxes, and insurance—means a family has breathing room to handle the rest of what life brings.
And I’m involved because I know first-hand the importance of getting help to buy my first home. Long, long ago, in a decade far, far away, I bought my first place, a row house, with the help of a state-sponsored, first-time home-buyer’s program. I became the proud (and nervous) mortgage holder with a subsidized 11.5% fixed rate mortgage at a time when market rates were hitting 18%. Yup. You read that right. Can you imagine? And I knew I was getting a deal at 11.5%!
Decades have passed; mortgages have changed and so have rates (I, of course, haven’t changed a bit), but the need for programs to make home buying affordable hasn’t. I love that we’re building beautifully designed, energy-efficient, right-sized houses for a variety of needs, whether it’s aging-in-place, singles, or families.
It’s great to be a part of an organization that’s building hope and passing the keys to a “quality of life” to buyers who have worked hard to qualify. Your Hometown Habitat covers a big territory and does it with big hearts, big plans, and even bigger visions for the future. And I’m blessed beyond measure to be invited into all of that.
Board Member and Community Advocate
Do you know that 2019 commemorates Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter’s 30th Anniversary?
Thirty years of providing access to affordable housing and removing barriers to opportunity, success, and health in partnership with YOU!
As we look forward to the exciting and unique projects being started this year; such as, The Cottages at Heritage Grove, a 23-unit community in Tavares, FL and the addition of the Leesburg High School to our Youth Construction Academy. We pause and reflect on how our affiliate has changed and grown, who we have served and how it has impacted where we live. In the midst of it all, we take an account of our cause- everyone deserves a decent, safe, and affordable place to call home.
Each year the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) releases an “Out of Reach” report documenting the Housing Wage (what an individual needs to be paid in order to afford housing in the area) and the Fair Market Rent (the standard cost of rent in the area).
Coincidentally, this year the NLIHC’s “Out of Reach” report also celebrates their 30th Anniversary and reflects how the housing market has changed in the past three decades. The “Out of Reach” report references the gap between wages people earn and the cost of living, specifically the cost of housing; arguably one of the biggest factors in the individual and families stability. HOME is a primary factor in safety, security, health, school and job performance; yet for many the cost of home has become too high.
Rents and homeownership costs are skyrocketing while wages are not keeping pace. Everyone should have enough money left over after paying rent or mortgage costs to cover life’s necessities. So what can we do to impact change, to make a difference for our family, our neighbors, and our community? We can be the advocates. It begins with knowledge, an understanding of how it affects you and where you live: Eustis, Tavares, Bushnell, Clermont, The Villages, and every pocket of Lake and Sumter Counties between.
“A recent national poll commissioned by NLIHC’s Opportunity Starts at Home campaign finds 85% of the public believes a safe, decent, affordable place to live should be a national priority (NHLIC, pg. 8).”
At Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter we believe it should be a local priority! Partner with us, join our Cost of Home campaign, read the NLIHC’s “Out of Reach” report and look for our How-To: Advocacy Guide in October. Together we can build homes, communities, and hope!
LEESBURG — A dozen Leesburg High School students will be doing more than math equations, English essays and science experiments this year. They’ll be constructing a home from the ground up, too.
The three-bedroom, two-bath home will be built near downtown Leesburg for a family in need as part of a unique partnership between Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and Leesburg High’s Construction Academy.
Groundbreaking took place Monday at 107 N. 12th St., with a throng of state and local elected officials, business leaders and members of the community showing support for both the project and the academy. The vacant lot was donated by the city.
“This is great — the students and Leesburg High School needed it, the city of Leesburg needed it and the community needed it,” said Don Magruder, CEO of RoMac Building Supply and chairman of the academy’s advisory committee.
Roughly 100 students are enrolled in the academy, and the 12 students participating in the build were chosen based on their performance and leadership in the classroom. Each was required to have at least one year of construction classes.
“They are really a great group of talented kids,” said Lynnea Weissman, project manager with the Lake County school district’s office of College and Career Readiness. “It’s an opportunity for them to give back to the community.”
During the roughly eight-month project, the students will work alongside Habitat’s construction staff and professional tradespeople. They’ll use skills they’ve learned in class to work on every phase of the build, including the foundation and framing, electricity, plumbing, windows, doors, flooring and painting.
Senior Max Acosta, who is in his third year at the academy, said he walked into the academy during his sophomore year and fell in love with the program.
“It makes me feel really good to work on a project like this,” he said. “I’ll have a well-paid job after high school, too.”
Construction runs deep in the blood of Cody Ives, a recent graduate from the Villages Charter High School. Since a young age, Cody has been surrounded by the art of craftsmanship, and during the last three summers, he has worked with his dad doing custom cabinets and furniture. Family has played an important role in his life thanks to his parents and sister, and of course, the family dog.
Cody has been working as an intern builder for Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter since he graduated this past May. While attending the Villages Charter School, he was enrolled in the construction academy partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and even had the chance to help in constructing a new home. The Habitat Youth Construction Academy was actively seeking one student to come on as an intern, and with his previous track record with construction, Cody was a prime candidate for the position. To his delight, he was chosen to be a part of the newly formed academy and has proven his worth ever since; finally joining Habitat Lake-Sumter in an apprentice builder role.
Upon asking Cody what his favorite part about his new job was, he answered, “I enjoy assisting the other builders with the work and it’s great to be able to learn new skills along the way!”. Besides learning new tricks of the trade, Cody went on to emphasize how fulfilling it is to see the results of both the team and his hard work. Maybe even more impressive than his work ethic is his friendly attitude that he displays to others while on the construction site. His upbeat and radiant personality constantly keeps the team in good spirits throughout the day, which makes a lot of sense since his favorite saying is “Heck ya!”.
When Cody’s not working, his favorite activities to do in his free time are hunting, fishing, hanging out with friends, and going out on the boat. The West Palm native moved here when he was three and currently resides in Weirsdale, FL. We would like to wish Cody good luck with his future at Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter and a big thank you for the wonderful work he has done so far!
UCF Student and Volunteer