LAND O’ LAKES —More homes for low income families are expected to be built in the Land O’ Lakes area as a result of a pending merger between the Central Pasco and East Pasco chapters of Habitat for Humanity.
In the past 10 years, the all-volunteer Central Pasco Habitat has built four homes compared to 73 completed by the East Pasco Habitat, which has eight employees and two VISTA volunteers.
“We expect to accelerate home construction in central Pasco to two or three homes a year,” said John Finnerty, president of the East Pasco organization. “It’s gotten to be a lot more difficult to get grant monies, and by combining our resources we will be able to build more homes.”
On Jan. 16, the Central Pasco group dedicated its fourth home, built for Jasson and Ashlie Neeley and their three young sons — identical 3-year-old twins Christian and Cayden, and 6-month-old Gabrielle. The 1,400 square foot home in Pasco Lakes Estates has a wide front porch, three bedrooms and a bath. The subdivision is located in north Land O’ Lakes on US 41, about five miles north of SR 52.
“We moved in on Dec. 19, which was Jasson’s birthday and just in time for Christmas,” Ashlie said.
Work began on the family’s home 18 months earlier, when they were still a family of four. Jasson, who works at All Phase Electric in Tampa, did much of the work with the help of Habitat volunteers.
Next door to the Neeley home, another Habitat home is being built by the Central Pasco group. Board member Gary Williams said the selection committee is currently reviewing applications to choose a family for the group’s fifth home.
“The board is really proud of what we’ve done and the merger steps up and allows us to build more homes,” Williams said.
The merger of the two local Habitat chapters is expected to be formally approved by the national Habitat for Humanity organization in March, Finnerty said.
The merged organization will be called Habitat for Humanity of East Central Pasco. Three members from the current Central Pasco board —Danny Coleman, Randy Gailit and John Westfall — will be appointed to a combined 22-member board. Central Pasco will continue to be represented by a 12-member advisory group made up of current board members and new volunteers.
Finnerty said the two chapters have been working on the merger for six months. They are currently searching for a location in the Land O’ Lakes area to open a Habitat Restore to accept donations of new appliances and building materials. If donated items are not needed in a local Habitat home, they are sold at Habitat’s Restore at significant discounts to the public. The store is just one project made possible by the merger.
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