Suncoast Housing, Clearwater Partner on Mortgage Relief Program • St Pete Catalyst

Suncoast Housing Connections, a nonprofit that builds affordable housing in south St. Petersburg, unveiled a new partnership with the city of Clearwater, to help homeowners who may be at risk of losing their homes when a federal moratorium on foreclosures expires at the end of June.

Suncoast, which recently changed its name from Tampa Bay Community Development Corp., is partnering with Clearwater on an emergency relief program for residents who are behind on their mortgage and utility payments due to the pandemic of Covid-19.

Clearwater’s emergency assistance program is for residents whose household income is less than 80% of the area’s median income, according to A press release. For a family of four, it’s $56,250 or less.

The city will give residents up to $7,500 and Suncoast will work with the homeowner and the company servicing their home loan to develop a workout plan, said Fran Pheeny, president and CEO of Suncoast.

Suncoast is gearing up for what should be a bigger effort.

“The State of Florida has secured funding for this and we are waiting to see how this funding will be distributed,” Pheeny said.

Last week, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau told mortgage officers to be prepared.

“There is a tidal wave of homeowners in distress who will need the help of their mortgage agents in the months ahead. Responsible repairers should prepare now. There is no time to waste and no excuses. for inaction. No one should be surprised by what’s to come,” said Dave Uejio, acting director of the CFPB, in A press release.

“We are preparing internally for a lot of people who will need help training with their repairers because they are so many months behind once the lockdown moratorium ends at the end of June,” Pheeny said.

Affordable homes

Suncoast, which provides homebuyer education and advice to low-to-moderate income households, is also developing real estate and has begun construction on the first six of 14 homes it plans to build in southern St. Petersburg. .

“When we have our homebuyer education course, the most common question we get asked is where can I find a home that I can afford. So we tell them these homes are coming soon and that helps people focus and say, OK, I need to sit down with an adviser and make sure I’m ready and eligible for these homes once the construction is complete” , said Pheeny.

Related: Bank of America and Suncoast Housing Connections Work to Expand Homeownership

The homes are built on lots acquired through the city’s lot disposition program as well as lots donated by a local landowner, Pheeny said.

The three-bedroom, two-bathroom homes, each over 1,200 square feet, will include energy-efficient features, kitchens with wood cabinetry and granite countertops, and porches and stone accents that will bring character to the neighborhood. The first six homes will sell for around $225,000.

“We don’t yet know what the costs for the second group will be because construction costs are currently exploding. We will determine that once we sign a contract with a general contractor to build the rest,” Pheeny said.

The sale of the first six houses will finance the construction of the second phase, she said.

The homes will be sold to individuals and families whose household income is up to 120% of the area median income, or AMI.

“Due to the very good down payment assistance program of the city of St. Petersburg, which helps people up to 80% of the AMI, we were trying to keep the purchase price at a level where people at 80% AMI to afford it.. For people above that, we didn’t mean you can’t buy the house. But we know that people at 80% AMI, if they are willing to lend their mortgage, will be able to buy,” she said.

Helping buyers find affordable housing is more important than ever, Pheeny said.

“It’s a tough issue locally, statewide and nationally, but it’s very tough in Pinellas because it’s so hard to find land to develop into affordable housing. Land costs are really high,” she said. “But even in communities that aren’t as built up, it’s a problem because of the disparity between stagnant incomes and escalating property costs.”

Take a closer look: name change

Suncoast Housing Connections, which serves up to 1,500 people a year, was founded as Tampa Bay Community Development Corp. in 1982.

The name change has been effective since March 31.

“The decision to change the name was a long and difficult process, and we took it very seriously,” said Karl Nurse, chairman of the board. A press release. “Changing a name that has been in the community for nearly 40 years is risky. Our hope is that by switching brands, we will reach and serve more people who may not have been aware of our services.

The new name more clearly reflects the area served by the agency, what it does and how it does it, said Fran Pheeny, President and CEO.

The organization’s Clearwater and New Port Richey locations, staff and services will remain the same.