Segregated housing in Manatee: ‘Criminal’ Conditions
Didi Hager has never received a call from someone who has felt discriminated when trying to find housing in Manatee County. Yet the family services manager at Manatee County Habitat for Humanity has seen rental units that are “absolutely deplorable.”
During home visits for Habitat for Humanity, Hager has met with tenants paying upwards of $900 a month for places with no air conditioners, broken refrigerators and mold in the shower.
“In my estimation, it is criminal what these landlords are charging for places that are falling down around them,” she said. “They don’t qualify for a conventional mortgage and they are just exploited by landlords that know they have to have a place to live and can charge whatever they want to charge.”
These units are often segregated in certain parts of the county such as Oneco and Samoset.
“There are sections that are more segregated than others,” she said. “I do think that is a problem.”
As a way to identify barriers to fair housing, county officials are developing a plan for “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” in Manatee. Fair housing means protecting “people from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability and familial status,” according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“It is going to include achievable tasks that we are going to be able to handle as a county government structure,” said Denise Thomas, the county’s housing and community development coordinator. “We can make an impact and make a difference and that is what we are trying to do.”
Areas along the urban core, both north and south of the Manatee River, are distinctly segregated in Manatee County, according to Bill O’Shea, project manager in the community development division of the county’s neighborhood services department.
“We have segregation of low-income people and housing, and the whole idea is that no matter what income level or race, you should have the same opportunity as anybody that has a higher income,” he said. “You are entitled to that under fair housing.”
Unlike previous fair housing plans that the county developed in 2005 and 2010, Manatee County will be held more accountable by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which requires the plan for the county to receive Community Development Block Grant funding.
Read more: http://www.bradenton.com/news/local/article91321652.html
Manatee Habitat Dedicates 125th Home
Manatee Habitat's 125th Home Dedication took place June 18th, 2016 at 1180 3rd Ave. W., in Palmetto. Shambria Smith and her two daughters Reniya, 5 and Paris, 3, are the proud new homeowners. Shambria has put in over 300 hours of labor with Manatee County Habitat for Humanity.
The dedication was a wonderful representation of the community that comes together to build a Habitat home. In attendance at the dedication were Habitat Board members and volunteers, family and friends of Shambria, Bealls employees who sponsored the home and provided volunteer labor, next door neighbor Mrs. Jefferson, also a recipient of Habitat services, and future Habitat homebuyers.
This home was made possible by Bealls, Inc., which sponsored this project through the Community Contribution Tax Credit Program (CCTCP). This program allows Florida businesses to put their tax dollars to work in their community. Publix Super Markets Charities, Inc., a dedicated partner of Habitat, provided a grant of $35,000 to complete Shambria's new home.
Shambria is a single parent and is employed full time by United Cerebral Palsy, where she has worked for the past two years. Shambria has been persistent in pursuing the dream of owning her own home. She came to our organization in 2013, and applied, but didn’t meet all of the requirements. She worked hard to qualify and is now a proud Habitat homeowner. Shambria is the perfect example of "where there is a will, there is a way."
Shambria has attended classes, accumulated her escrow money and completed her hours on the job site. As a matter of fact, if you ever saw her on the job site, you would know that she's not a quitter. She has worked on her home tirelessly; from the inside of the home, to the outside and even on the roof, Shambria was there to do what needed to be done.
Congratulations, Shambria, Reniya, and Paris!
Pictured top: Shambria and daughters Reniya, 5 and Paris, 3. Pictured bottom: Shambria with Joe DesRosier, Director of Central Operations for Bealls, with Shambria at the dedication. Bealls gave us 34 employees who worked 209 hours on Shambria's house.