TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A disabled veteran whose home became unlivable after a fire is getting a fresh start, thanks to a City of Tampa pilot program.
Booker Washington originally applied for Tampa’s Owner Occupied Rehabilitation Program, but the city said he did not qualify because the damage was too extensive. City Council Member Orlando Gudes directed him to the new Replacement Home Pilot Program, which is expected to put $260,000 toward new home construction.
The program received about $780,000 in funding for the 2023 fiscal year, which the city said will produce three new homes. In order to qualify for the program, the home must be beyond feasible repair or rehabilitation, meaning less than 25% of the structure is salvageable. The homeowner must meet income requirements, which are at or below the 80% mark for area median income.
The City of Tampa said homeowners will receive a silent mortgage, meaning they will not have to make monthly payments before the loan is forgiven at the end of the 30-year term. This leaves them responsible for just the insurance and property taxes.
“Whenever we can make a difference in someone’s life and help them secure a healthy and safe place to live, we will jump on that opportunity,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said. “This new program is another example of our relentless efforts to address our affordable housing crisis, one home at a time.”
The city will begin demolishing Booker Washington’s East Tampa home on Monday. Booker will be joined by his family and friends, along with Mayor Castor and Tampa City Council Members.
Booker is expected to move in to his new home in May 2023.