Tampa Bay nonprofits help build, repair houses to help struggling homeowners

Two Tampa Bay nonprofits that build and repair homes hammered out a deal to help struggling homeowners as part of a solution to the area’s housing crisis

Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay recently teamed up with Habitat for Humanity Pinellas and West Pasco to fix major repairs needed for existing homeowners to keep them in their homes and build new ones for families that need them. Currently, both organizations are working on houses in the Lealman neighborhood of St. Petersburg.

For homeowner Theodore Zuppa and his wife, their 54th Avenue house has been their home to more than 30 years of memories. Now, their house will receive a free roof replacement Friday from Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay. Zuppa said the current roof is about 15 to 20 years old.

"It’s like a godsend when you have a new roof put on your house, especially when it’s storm season coming. You have a little peace of mind. You don’t have to worry so much about what’s going to happen," said Zuppa. "We have a small leak. If it fans continuously for one whole day over the vent in the kitchen, and the wind has to blow from a certain way."

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Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay’s Senior Director of Operations Brandy Canada said they are working on three houses in the neighborhood that need a lot of work through the help of grants. The nonprofit helps homeowners with a variety of repairs aside from roofing, including flooring, accessibility needs, plumbing and mold remediation.

"If they can’t afford it, they don’t get it repaired. And then they suffer health wise, and other things start to happen in the house. Everything starts falling apart. They start getting mold and water intrusion and all of those things," said Canada. "For me personally, I grew up in one of these houses that needed work. I was raised by my grandparents, so I actually saw the struggle firsthand. I know what it’s like to have someone be able to come in and assist when you can’t do it for yourself."

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The nonprofits hope to help dozens of families to make more homes safer and healthier.

"Well, it definitely gives you peace of mind with the housing market as high as it is. Even renting, it’s been very difficult to relocate," said Zuppa.

Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay said the nonprofit chooses homes on a first come, first served basis through an application on its website. RTTB will join Habitat for Humanity volunteers in the Lealman neighborhood to paint and landscape some homes Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. as part of National Rebuild Day to help local communities.