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Habitat for Humanity plans to build homes in blighted neighborhood
CRESTVIEW - Money from the National Mortgage Settlement is headed to Crestview, to replace abandoned homes in a blighted neighborhood. Habitat for Humanity will do the work with a 240-thousand dollar grant.
Laura Hussey "Furniture and garbage in the yard are nothing compared to the smell of mold coming out of this home on Savage Street near downtown Crestview. But within months, this eyesore could be replaced with a brand new home"
Nitsi Bennett says, "Yes, people used to live in this house...."
Okaloosa Habitat for Humanity President Nitsi Bennett wants to knock down what she calls the worst of the worst. In this neighborhood, there are a lot to choose from.
Neighbor Mark Reese "I come down here almost every month, every two months, and it just seems like every time we come down here we see more and more abandoned houses"
Neighbor Linda Forbes "They've just walked off and left them. There's trash in the yard's, the roofs are falling in"
Habitat chapters across Florida got a total of 20 million dollars from a national settlement with mortgage banks. Okaloosa's share is 240-thousand. The grants must be used to rehab or replace existing homes....creating new, affordable housing.
Linda Forbes "That would be wonderful, that would be wonderful"
Neighbor Linda Forbes says a Habitat home in her daughter's neighborhood had a huge impact.
Linda Forbes "It made a lot of difference, to the kids in the neighborhood and stuff. Because these kids finally had a home that they'd never had"
Bennett says her group got funding for four projects, but she's trying to stretch it to six. A contractor has already offered to do the tear-downs at no charge, starting within a month.
Nitsi Bennett "I want this gone. I dream that one day, we will not have structures like this, not one left"
Laura Hussey "Habitat families have to meet certain requirements and put quite a bit of sweat equity into their homes. Applications are available at the Crestview Chamber of Commerce."