The Diaz' smile in front of their new Key West style home. (Lauren Reynolds/WUFT News)

Ocala-based Business Teams Up With Habitat For Humanity To Build Homes For 10 Families In Key West


Habitat for Humanity of Florida has teamed up with Resolute Forest Products and Southern Structures, Inc. in Ocala to build homes for those in need in Key West after Hurricane Irma.

Resolute Forest Products has donated a large amount of lumber to the state of Florida in the aftermath of Irma.

The goal of this program is to build affordable homes to give those in need the opportunity to be homeowners.

The Diaz family is one of the 10 families chosen to be a part of a new community living area in Key West. Before they heard about this program, they were living in income-based housing. Laz Diaz, who will purchase the home with his wife, Nelly, and their two children, says they are excited to have something permanent: “something the kids can come back to once they leave for college.”

The application process is competitive but is set up to help those with the most need.  Nelly Diaz says the first step is filling out the application. Next, they run a credit and background check. The program is based on income, and you have to be within an income bracket to qualify. Laz Diaz feels fortunate to have the opportunity to purchase this home.

“We are lucky. A lot of people don’t get the chance and we’re going to make sure everyone knows how thankful we are,” he said.

Laz Diaz gives a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the organizations in Marion County that made it possible for his family to purchase a home. (Lauren Reynolds/WUFT News)

Members of the Marion County Board of Commissioners, Habitat for Humanity of Florida and Resolute Forest Products were present at a reception this morning congratulating the Diaz’ on their new home.

Habitat for Humanity CEO Barbara Inman Beck explained why home ownership has become so difficult in Florida.

“After Hurricane Andrew in 1992, housing codes changed.  The major downside to these changes is the increase in the cost of homes,” Beck said. “It is estimated that regulatory compliance can add as much as 45 percent to the price of a home, compared to 25 percent nationally.”

The new housing codes made it difficult for families like the Diaz’ to own homes especially in places like Key West where property costs are so high.

The family says they will feel more secure in their new home because of the proven excellence of homes built by Southern Structures, Inc.  They are excited to be a part of their new community and can’t wait to watch it grow.

About Lauren Reynolds

Lauren is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by emailing or calling 352-392-6397.

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