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St. Petersburg sets 2016 as year of homeownership

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The city of St. Petersburg and Neighborhood Home Solutions is dubbing 2016 the year of homeownership in the city. To start what they hope will be a productive year in boosting homeownership, the NHS, city and Tampa Bay CDC are partnering to create sustainable homeowners.

To get started, the group is holding a homeownership event at 10 a.m. Saturday at Pinellas Technical College on 34th Street South.

Homeownership counselors will be there to give prospective home buyers an overview of programs available. NHS, the main group behind the event, is a nonprofit established in 1980 focused on revitalization and community development. The group helps individuals and families obtain greater financial health, qualify for home loans and teaches them how to maintain a home after purchase.

“If you’re paying $1,000 a month in rent, you can probably buy a similar house,” said City Council member Karl Nurse who has worked with groups on creating the event.

Among the many goals in increasing homeownership is to revitalize the many boarded-up houses in poor neighborhoods. The more those houses are purchased and fixed up, the more property values increase. And housing officials hope that boost will be enough to gradually rise neighborhoods out of poverty all the while eliminating blight.

But buying a home is difficult. As Nurse pointed out in a City Council meeting Thursday, banks are requiring more and more paperwork for prospective buyers in order to protect their interests after the 2008 housing market crash. Plus, many of the people who would like to buy a home need help improving their credit. Some even need help with basic finances such as establishing a bank account and learning how to budget.

The event aims to direct individuals to counselors and programs that can help begin that process. For some clients, the path toward homeownership can be quick. For others it can take more than a year and sometimes much more.

Registration for the event is open by calling 727-442-7075 or by emailing admin@nhsfl.org.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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