New homeowner receives keys to house built on land donated by city
Published on September 14, 2022
First-time homeowner Ashley Burke fought back tears as she thanked the many individuals and organizations on her list during the dedication of her new Alachua Habitat for Humanity home in east Gainesville.
“I give thanks to God and thank my fiancé, Habitat, the city and (house sponsor) AMJ Group,” Burke said. “I’m ready to start shopping for things for my new house!”
Burke’s is the first single-family home to be constructed on property donated by the City of Gainesville. In January, the city transferred ownership of four of its 11 vacant lots in the Duval community to Alachua Habitat for Humanity.
“Home ownership is a wonderful thing,” proclaimed Gainesville’s interim City Manager Cynthia Curry at the dedication. “We are committed to reducing the shortage of affordable housing in our community and to helping make homeownership a reality for neighbors like Ashley.”
The city has ensured the cost of each home built on the surplus lots remains permanently affordable. An affordability requirement in the housing covenant restricts current and future sales to income-qualified purchasers.
Burke, a U.S. military veteran, also received a $25,000 forgivable loan made possible through My Neighborhood, a program managed by the city’s Gainesville Community Reinvestment Area. The program offers an incentive for former residents of eligible neighborhoods to purchase a home or lot within their neighborhood. Water and wastewater hookups to Burke’s new home were funded by the city’s Connect Free program. In addition, the Public Works Department extended Northeast Ninth Avenue to the east to create roadway access for several of the new Habitat homes. It also will build a new stormwater management facility in the Duval neighborhood.
“Congratulations, Ashley, and welcome to your new home,” said Corey Harris, director of the city’s Housing and Community Development Department. “You have the city behind you.”
Alachua Habitat for Humanity is expected to complete construction of three more single-family homes by January 2024 and sell them to qualified, low-income neighbors.
“It really takes a community partnership to help new homeowners purchase quality-built homes with affordable mortgages,” said Alachua Habitat Family Services Director Kristine Thompson.
Neighbors with household incomes no greater than 80 percent of the area median income (as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and adjusted for family size) may qualify to purchase any of the affordable homes on the surplus lots. In Gainesville, a family of four whose annual income does not exceed $58,550 may qualify, while the income limit for a single applicant would equal $41,000.
Revitalizing eastside neighborhoods with expanded housing and upgraded city infrastructure is a key objective of the city’s strategic plan.