Recent News

Habitat for Humanity to build Samoset subdivision

Nonprofit group bought a 3-acre tract that was once a tomato farm

MANATEE COUNTY – A volunteer-based nonprofit organization intends to build its fourth affordable housing neighborhood in Manatee County.

Manatee County Habitat for Humanity recently purchased a three-acre tract that used to be a tomato farm in west Samoset. The Bradenton-based organization intends to convert the land into a subdivision of single-family homes with a community garden.

The neighborhood is to be called Poling Gardens in recognition of the Poling family, who sold the property.

Manatee Habitat intends to break ground in late 2018 but needs to raise donations for the first phase of construction as well as an estimated $700,000 for infrastructure for the undeveloped site.

“We will seek community support on multiple levels as we do with all of our mission work,” Roger Arnholt, president of Habitat’s board of directors, said in an announcement. “To be successful we will partner with government, businesses, volunteers and our donors to make this community a reality.”

Manatee Habitat is currently building homes on infill lots in Bradenton’s Village of the Arts. It has built three neighborhoods, Washington Park and Village of the Palms in Palmetto and, most recently, Hope Landing in Ellenton.

The organization works with lower-income families who otherwise would have difficulty obtaining a conventional mortgage. Its clients purchase a Habitat home with a no-interest loan. In exchange, they must take home ownership and financial literacy classes and contribute 300 to 500 hours of “sweat equity” on the construction of their home and other homes.

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Open Call for Design Teams for the 3rd Annual ReStore Spaces Event

A great way to support Manatee County Habitat for Humanity

SWAT Successful Women Aligning Together Dining Room

Bradenton, FL, Oct./4/2017–The search for design teams is underway for the 3rd Annual ReStore Spaces fundraiser.

ReStore Spaces is designed to showcase Manatee Habitat for Humanity’s thrift stores—the ReStore location at 4105 Cortez Rd and the ReStore location on 1227 Hardin Avenue.

Anyone in the community can form a team. The only requirement is an interest in design and the willingness to participate. Each team will choose items from the Hardin Avenue ReStore location to repurpose or refurbish. The goal is to use these redone items in a room design to be displayed in one of the specially framed out room locations at the 3rd Annual ReStore Spaces event.

Applications can be found here. Prospective teams can also pick up applications at either ReStore location. The deadline for team entries is Friday Nov. 10th.

Manatee Habitat for Humanity ReStores are non-profit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price.  Funds from sales at the ReStores help build, modify and repair housing for low income residents in Manatee County.

The ReStores Spaces Reveal Party will be held Thursday, Feb. 22nd from 6-9pm at the Hardin ReStore.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Karen McElroy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Momentum builds as Washington Park residents engage with coalition

Washington Park Community primary

Lizzie May Jennings hugs those who attended the community’s first Washington Park meeting in July as a growing group of residents and outside partners join forces in an effort to clean up and make safe the East Bradenton neighborhood. Zack Wittman, Herald file photo

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BRADENTON - Sometimes the most difficult task to complete when invoking change is first to get others involved. If that is true, a coalition spearheaded by Habitat for Humanity looking to bring change to East Bradenton’s Washington Park community is off to a good start.

The Bradenton Police Department hosted the second community meeting at its Sixth Street Court East police substation, and it was standing room only as attendance more than doubled from a meeting held last month. That first meeting drew more people representing agencies outside the neighborhood seeking to help than it did residents.

On Tuesday, concerned residents far outnumbered those agency representatives and though space was tight, Habitat’s Programs Manager Didi Boyd Hager said “this is a good problem to have.”

Coalition building began in early June between Hager and May Lizzie Jennings in her Washington Park home and the effort is blossoming quickly.

“Our mission is to help this community come together,” Hager said. “The people here are part of a coalition building to listen, to give their input, their direction, their talents to what this community needs, but we need to hear from you.”

Residents reiterated some of the issues the community faces, which includes better lighting, sidewalks, safe places and routes for children to get to nearby parks and bus stops, and a general cleanup of the neighborhood, which residents proclaimed as “filthy.”

Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan attended the meeting to address concerns from residents and was pleased with the turnout.

“It’s always important when trying to do all we can for the neighborhood that the neighborhood comes out,” Bevan said. “At the end of the day, we can’t do anything as a city or as a police department unless you are involved. Neighborhoods are about families so if there are things you would like to see from the police department, things you need help with, house issues, code issues or if someone in your neighborhood is bringing you down, you need to let us know. We are here to do all we can.”

Residents said they would like to get know the officers better to establish more trust but acknowledged Bevan’s implementation last year of her Walkin’ the Beat program has been effective. Officers are required to get out of their vehicles from time to time to engage with the community. Others were concerned that the current effort would simply disappear as time goes on, but Hager said that isn’t going to happen.

“This is a village,” she said. “I can’t do this by myself and I don’t want to. We want to get to know you and what you want in the community so there is trust built to have this community sustain itself and be an up-and-coming neighborhood. Unless I’m in the hospital on my death bed, I’m going to keep my word, but I can’t do without you all.”

Residents expressed frustration about the lack of caring in their own neighborhood, particularly about the dumping of trash. Several of those attending say they are involved in organizational and church cleanup efforts, but that few, if any of their neighbors, participate.

“I’m 71 years old, and if I can pick up trash then by God everyone can,” Jennings said. “It’s a shame. I’m ashamed of the way the neighborhood looks. We can do better.”

Monthly community meetings will continue. Hager is the point person for the growing coalition, and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 941-748-9100, ext. 102.

Mark Young: 941-745-7041, @urbanmark2014

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Cops put on hard hats to provide housing, discourage crime

by Jessica De Leon


BRADENTON - Committed to bringing down crime in the city, Bradenton police officers and employees put on hard hats and helped build one of the latest Habitat for Humanity homes.

About 25 members of the Bradenton Police Department joined forces with Habitat for Humanity volunteers on Thursday morning to help build a duplex in the 2200 block of 10th Street West.

“This has been an ongoing project, and we went out, picked up our hammers and got to work,” spokesman Lt. Brian Thiers told the Bradenton Herald after work had been completed for the day.

Officers and police personnel helped Habitat volunteers with siding, framing and painting.

“We had a great time,” Thiers said of their work with “a great organization. We worked well together.”

Thiers commended Habitat’s volunteers for the amount of time and effort put into their projects.

“It was a great honor to be able to join with them, to work in our city, the city we keep safe. And today, we got to build a little of it,” Thiers said.

The duplex, which will provide homes for two single mothers and their children, is part of new construction projects that are being built in an area of the city that for years has been a high-crime area.

“It’s part of a concerted effort to rebuild this area,” said Bruce Winter, construction director for Manatee County Habitat for Humanity. “To have the support of the police, fire department and code enforcement here in the city of Bradenton allows us to come into this neighborhood and help to revitalize it.”

The duplex comprises the third and fourth dwellings built in the Midtown Bradenton and Village of the Arts neighborhoods. Previous projects have been built in the village, and future projects have also been planned, according to Winter. One of the homes is part of the organization’s Women’s Build project, for which Police Chief Melanie Bevan is the co-leader.

In addition to the labor Bradenton police officers provided, their mere presence has aided the project. Thursday morning, the block where the duplex is located was lined with police cars, and other officers who were on duty regularly patrolled the area.

The increased patrols, not just during building time, has really aided in controlling vandalism and theft of building materials, which is often a struggle, Winter said.

Bradenton police officers intend on continuing to work with Habitat, Thiers said, and they looking forward to helping other families have a fresh start while helping to clean up the neighborhood.

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