Single parents get help becoming homeowners in Tampa's University Area

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For many, a new home can signal a new beginning. The University Area Community Development Corporation's Sound and Secure Housing Program hopes to give a new beginning to struggling single parents by helping them become first-time homebuyers.  

"This is a new step in my life. We are so excited, this a miracle," said Helga Torres, the first homeowner in the University Area CDC's Safe and Sound Housing Program.

Torres is a single mom to a 7-year-old. For her, owning a home has always been a dream that has been just out of reach.

"I want to give something to my son so that he can grow up in a good community," said Torres.

But with the help of the Sound and Secure Program, Torres' dream is now becoming a reality. 

"This is for single parents in the University Area Community. To be able to allow them to have the opportunity to have the American Dream and own their own home," explained Sarah Combs, the CEO of the University Area CDC.

Over the next year, the program will work with Helga, turning her from a renter to a homeowner, all at an affordable price. 

"Residents in our community really want to be homeowners, but they might not know how to take care of a home or their credit score might not be where it needs to be," said Combs. "Through this program and project, we've been able to create a lease to purchase program."

Their move-in date is fast approaching and Torres and her son already have big plans for their brand new two-bedroom, two-bath home. 

"This is the best part for me," said Torres showing off her new master bedroom with full bathroom attached. "It has my bedroom, has my bathroom there, my own private bathroom. I love it. I feel so excited!"

But Torres' journey has left her with a message for others: "To all the single parents like me, don't stop dreaming."

Torres is the first homeowner to move into a Sound and Secure Program house, however, there is already a second house that has been completed.

The organization hopes to add more homes in the future.