UMATILLA, Fla. — Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter is done building homes in a Lake County neighborhood.
- Habitat for Humanity builds homes for ‘Veterans Village’
- Affordable homes meant for veterans, active military
The 13 affordable homes are for veterans, activity military and spouses of those who have served.
It’s called the Veterans Village and it’s located in Umatilla.
Shawn Unger moved into the development at the end of June.
“(I) wanted to get out of the apartment living and into a home. I do have two small children in the house, so a little more wholesome living than that of the apartment,” said Unger.
Unger says he went into the Air Force when he was 17 years old after graduating from high school.
“My parents had to give me permission to do so and sign a form, and then I reported to Lackland Air Force base in 1985,” he said.
Unger’s house is one of 13 Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter started building in 2016.
Every year, the National Low Income Housing Coalition releases a report that discusses the cost of living around the country. With a specific focus on rent/mortgages, the report provides a very detailed look at just how unattainable safe, affordable housing can be for so many people. We’ve included some snapshots of this report below, and the link to the entire article is here.
Across a several-part series through the rest of the year, we’ll be breaking down what this information means for us through the “ABC’s” of the issue: Affordability, Baloney, and Clarity. These articles will seek to empower our community through understanding the problem, knowing the solutions, and being confident to act on them.
Stay tuned to our social media pages as we lead into each new article with some questions for you; the answers, and how you find them, will help you better understand the depth and intricacy of the housing world and the subject matter we’ll be exploring.
Lake County, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) – Kathleen Mabry says joining the U.S. Army at 32 years old, was one of the most difficult things she has ever done. It was the early 1970’s and Mabry was a single mom who needed a job. So, she turned over temporary, legal custody of her children to her best friend and shipped out for grueling basic training.”It was tough. But I was raised tough.” Mabry says. She served stateside in the Army for 6 years during the tail end of the Vietnam War. Her career ended not long after a severe injury while on duty. Decades later, she received a thank you for her service she says she never saw coming. She is one of the newest resident in the Veterans Village. It is a small Umatilla neighborhood built by Habitat for Humanity of Lake/Sumter. All of the homeowners are veterans of U.S. military service.
The News Station’s Tom Johnson takes you there.
Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter will break ground on a new home soon, but the construction crew may look a little younger than usual.
The Villages Charter School and Habitat for Humanity are teaming up through The Villages High School Construction Management Academy to give participating seniors the opportunity to gain firsthand experience on a job site.
Construction on the first home students will have a hand in building will begin in August, but families interested in applying for the home in Lady Lake can do so today through Tuesday at habitatls.org/programs/apply or by calling 352-483-0434.
“Part of the ramp-up was deciding what projects students would take on, because all of our academies are project based,” said Randy McDaniel, the charter school’s director of education.
VHS academies begin with an advisory board made up with professionals from that field.
“We organized a group of people to be on the construction board and began brainstorming sessions,” McDaniel said. “It was during that discussion that one of the architects mentioned Habitat for Humanity.”
Thanks to the partnership, students in the academy with an interest in construction will have the opportunity to gain real-life experience.
“It’s just like all of our academies — the closer you can make the experience to real life, the better it is going to be,” McDaniel said. “They’re going to be learning how to build a house. They will be there from the foundation to completion. That’s about as real world as you get.”
McDaniel said students will practice time management. They will learn how to meet demands and deadlines, and they will gain pride in their work and skills they learn.
“We are very excited about the opportunity for the kids and the school,” he said. “Plus, Habitat’s mission to help people become homeowners is pretty big. My hope is that it goes really well and becomes a long-running partnership.”
As instructor for the academy, Bruce Haberle will oversee the partnership.
SUMMERFIELD — James Collins sat in the shade on the porch of his Summerfield home and watched as two engineering students from France worked on a wooden ramp.
The addition of the ramp in April made the house more accessible for Collins and his wife, Deborah. Both have health problems that make climbing steps difficult at times.
“You can’t believe how important this ramp is for me and my wife,” James said. “I’m at a loss for words about this, and I’m never at a loss for words.”
The Collinses have lived in Summerfield for 13 years, and for most of that time they were able to make their own additions and repairs. But this time, they needed a little help.
The ramp was built as part of the Habitat for Humanity Lake-Sumter Florida’s Preserve and Repair program. It is just one of several ways Habitat is able to help families attain or keep affordable housing.
Since 1989, the Lake and Sumter Habitat has provided 265 homes for families in Lake and Sumter counties, said Danielle Stroud, Lake and Sumter Habitat director of development.
Stroud added that volunteers and sponsors are important elements in providing affordable housing for residents. Their donations of time, money and materials keep the costs down for new homes and repairs. The nonprofit has 4,000 volunteers who contribute 30,000 hours of volunteer labor annually.
This week, thousands of women will participate in Habitat for Humanity’s National Women Build Week. Lowe’s Home Improvement sponsors the national event with financial and volunteer support for hundreds of programs.
Locally, Habitat is planning to serve nine families in Lake and Sumter counties this week, including in Umatilla, Wildwood, Leesburg and Mount Dora, Stroud said.
“So far, we have 50 women set to volunteer,” Stroud said. “We still have some availability, so women are welcome to reach out to us.”
Anyone interested in participating can contact the office Tuesday or Wednesday for more information at habitatls.org.
Spring is in the air, and so is a record level of pollen and, for some states, unwelcome snow. Whatever your region or affliction, the time is right for some heavy-duty cleaning, and Habitat is here to help! Spring Cleaning is often associated with a full blitz of the house (including the garage, husbands out there) and many times there’s large items that need to go. Habitat for Humanity Lake Sumter has four ReStores that don’t just receive your donated items, we’ll even come get them – it’s free, and all you have to do is give us a call. Furniture, old (but functional) appliances, and electronics that you upgraded from on Black Friday but can’t bring yourself to get rid of; our ReStore truck teams will take it all, with some exceptions. To check if your item is a good fit, give your local ReStore a call, and if it looks good then they’ll get you in touch with the scheduling team to come get it.
Check out this article by Rodale Wellness: 14 Decluttering Secrets for Successful Spring Cleaning
Check out another article by Alex Harris: 21 Simple Hacks to Clean Your House the Smart Way
One of the lesser-known and more unique ways of supporting Habitat is through the Cars for Homes program. This option allows people who are upgrading their vehicles, downsizing their collection, or simply getting rid of a driveway accessory to donate the vehicle to Habitat, where it is sold and the proceeds support our mission. We don’t just accept cars, either! We can take donations of motorcycles, RV’s, trailers, golf carts, and work trucks. All donations through Cars for Homes receive a tax receipt which may qualify you for a nice deduction, and you’re helping lessen emissions and increase recycling value if you donate. If you’d like to get more info, or see if you have a qualifying item, you can check out the website here or give Cheryll a call at 352-483-0434 x141.
Check out the Cars for Homes Program: Cars = Homes
Apartment-size homes are being billed as a fresh idea for affordable-housing demands.
Aesthetically appealing, affordable, high-quality entry-level homes are in demand in Lake County, according to a local housing expert who claims the American Dream is out of reach for four out of ten families in the county.
“My purpose here is I intend to open a window,” says Kent Adcock, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, as he metaphorically paraphrased the words of Pope John Paul XXIII while recently proposing a housing concept to the Lake County Board of County Commissioners.
“Just open a window and let some new thoughts blow in, some new ideas come into our thinking,” Kent says. “We should be challenged to bring in that innovation to consider alternative models for affordable housing.”
He has discovered many millennials are increasingly eliminated from housing opportunities due to entry-level incomes.
“I am not proposing a tiny home community, which is a phenomenon that has recently developed where people live in RV-like mobile units of 125 to 250 square feet. I personally believe that there is merit in that model, but what we are talking about is real high-quality, energy-efficient, small footprint, fee-simple, apartment-sized homes (where homeowner owns house and land) built in a walkable community that is either on a slab or stem wall,” Kent says. “The key term is apartment size—400 to 700 square feet, one bedroom or two bedrooms. In the past, historically, households began meagerly with a starter home, not a 1,600-square-foot, $160,000-plus home, but an apartment-sized home.”
The concept of cottage homes would offer a smaller price point for entry-level homeowners or those looking to downsize. Kent showed the county commissioners photos of some of these smaller houses built in the North Carolina mountains that were in the $70,000 to $80,000 price range.
“There is a movement toward minimalism, especially millennials, and even people my age,” says Kent, who recently downsized to a smaller home with his wife. “We cut our house in half. It’s less maintenance, less to keep up, less cost, and I think a lot of people are beginning to recognize McMansions are not necessarily everything they are cracked up to be.”
If you thought construction in The Villages was booming — you haven’t seen anything yet.
Now, all eyes are set on training the next set of builders and craftsmen.
On Tuesday, representatives from The Villages High School’s Construction Management Academy were joined by community and business partners to officially announce a partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter.
Starting in August, 12th-grade students enrolled in the academy will no longer start their day in the classroom, but rather on the job site working side-by-side with volunteers to construct an anticipated 1,200-square-foot, 2-3 bedroom home.
“This gives the kids the ability to build a home from start to finish,” said Larry Green, construction management teacher at VHS and resident of the Village of Osceola Hills. “They’ll get to be a part of all the different components — from the ground substructure, all the way to the top of the roof.”
The school currently offers nine academy options to juniors and seniors, including health sciences, engineering, entrepreneurship and more.
Both agriscience and construction management were added prior to the start of the current school year, largely to accommodate growth and demand
in The Villages.
Tuesday’s partnership with the local chapter of the nonprofit organization was the result of many months of planning that included gaining building permits, negotiating with insurance providers and attracting local business partners.
“It’s going to be exciting working with these young people,” said Barry Martin, construction manager with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, who already has secured the site for the new home off Griffin View Drive in Lady Lake.
“You know not everybody is cut out for college,” added Martin. “In construction, there’s just so many different arenas that you can go into. Each one of them all have the potential to make an excellent living, and maybe even start their own businesses one day. Being able to share with them the joy in building a home, and seeing something like this go up — it’s just going to be awesome.”
Tuesday also served as a platform to unveil a new 24-foot trailer designed by Mike Manly, owner of MiCo Customs — a Wildwood-based residential and commercial contracting service.
That unwanted sweater, tennis racket or couch could make an impact on the local community if it is donated to the right thrift shop.
And that’s not just because someone in need could buy it at an affordable price.
Many local thrift stores use proceeds to support the missions of organizations in the tri-county area. Among them, one funds equipment for The Villages Regional Hospital, another supports an organization that helps victims of domestic violence and yet another helps fund the construction of affordable homes.
These thrift stores provide good bargains to shoppers, but residents who donate, volunteer and shop in the stores are making a difference in other ways.
Each store has different items and each cause is different, but leaders of the nonprofit shops all agree that building strong relationships within the community is important to success.
Pat Wesolowski volunteers with Ye Olde Thrift Shoppe in Lady Lake and is one of the founding members of the store. She said the people make the store special.
“The growth has been amazing, but so have the friendships I’ve developed with other volunteers and our customers,” Wesolowski said. “These relationships are so important to creating a place people want to shop. They have to feel welcome.”
Ye Olde Thrift Shoppe
The store opened in 2008 in Lady Lake to help fund The Villages Regional Hospital Auxiliary Foundation and ultimately, The Villages Regional Hospital.
It started with one small building, and anotherbuilding was purchased in 2015. The store expanded and added furniture to the long list of items it sells.
Dick Campbell, president of the foundation development team, expanded on the list of traits he thinks a store should have to be successful.
“There are numerous thrift stores in the area, so we have to be unique,” Campbell said. “The staff and volunteers look for ways to present the merchandise at its best. Nothing goes on the floor dirty. The store has to be inviting — both the way it looks and the volunteers who run it.”
It does not hurt that the store is now a stop on the Lake County bus route. That definitely brings in more people, Campbell said.
Dot Casleton, of the Village De La Vista, made her regular stop at the store Wednesday morning.
“I’m here for the books,” Casleton said. “I read about three books a week, and the books here are cheap. And the selection is great.”
She also has purchased furniture and linens in the past. Casleton credited the staff’s ability to showcase the merchandise and sell only the best for bringing her back to the store regularly.
Habitat for Humanity
The Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter ReStore in Wildwood is almost always busy. Either someone is dropping off donations or numerous customers are filling shopping baskets, said Shari Kuck, program coordinator.
“The donations and ultimately, the sales, help build homes for people in need,” she said.
Discipline, Knowledge, Leadership. This is the motto of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and for four weeks their students put those words into action.
Beginning January 16, groups of 40 students from MMA cycled through each week. They spent their weeks on Habitat job sites, working with our staff to make significant progress across the board. The students come from varied backgrounds but have similar goals at the Academy; despite the differences, all were looking forward to the team-building their time here would develop. Their academic plans spanned multiple subjects: emergency management, engineering, international business, and more. Many said the lessons in communication and teamwork learned on-site would prove invaluable moving forward. Maritime students that worked with Habitat during this time were pulling double-duty; in addition to their time on-site, they also continued studying when not actively working.
The students attending under this program began work on the Veterans Village last year, and this year’s attendees were eager to pick up where they left off. We put most of the cadets to work on the Village; the rest were taken to Preservation and Repair projects. A special event happened for this group as well, assisting the Clermont Police Department in painting a large community of duplexes. This created a strong level of community involvement, from officers to homeowners to businesses, and helped inspire us to begin our neighborhood-focused initiative.
The construction teams for Habitat for Humanity of Lake Sumter know how fortunate they are. These passionate and hard-working students show up to help, year after year, and it’s a major boost to productivity. The amount of progress made would not be possible without them, and we hope we provided some valuable experience in return.
Thanks, cadets! Same time next year?