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Habitat for Humanity dedicates new home to Lehigh family

August 21, 2019
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

On Thursday, Aug. 15, Habitat for Humanity held a dedication ceremony for a new home to a Lehigh Acres family. Members of the media, family, project sponsors, volunteers and Habitat for Humanity representatives were on hand to welcome new homeowner Kiasha Church, and her two young sons Courtney and Kason. This dedication marked an unprecedented 11 new homes during the week of Aug. 12 in Lee and Hendry counties.

"The home was dedicated in the honor Dennis and Darlene Kozlowski, for their generosity. They have been donors to our Habitat mission since 2004. They live in Bonita Bay and every year have made donations to us as part of Bonita Bay residents in support of our campaign," Habitat for Humanity's Community Outreach Vice President Vince Modarelli said.

For Church, it's a celebration of a life-changing event; the purchase of a safe, affordable home for her family.

Article Photos

Kiasha Church and her children Courtney and Kason in front of their new Habitat for Humanity home.


"I feel beyond blessed, thankful and overjoyed," Church said. "It's taken about a year. I applied three times before getting approved. I'm originally from Fort Myers and am single mom, working two jobs. We stayed with my godparents to save up the money for the down payment. Homeownership is just starting to hit me now. It feels good!"

Throughout the week, families in Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Bonita Springs and LaBelle were handed keys to their new homes at dedication ceremonies after each completed more than 300 hours of sweat equity, attended financial literacy and home maintenance classes, paid closing costs and committed to paying an affordable monthly mortgage payment.

"To earn a home. The first hurdle a potential homeowner candidate must pass is they must make less than 80 percent of the annual median income. Kiashi met that requirement. Many of our prospective owners make about 30 to 40 percent of that median," Modarelli said.

According to Modarelli, applicants must also show a steady income during the last three years and had the same job for at least one year.

Applicants must not only show the ability to repay the mortgage, but a willingness to partner with Habitat.

"The third piece of the process is partnering with us to complete 300 hours of sweat equity. During those hours she helped by working not only on her home, but other people's homes as well. She then had to participate in home ownership and maintenance classes. The final step is to meet that criteria and then be selected by a committee of volunteers," Modarelli explained.

According to Modarelli, these homes are not handouts, but just made more affordable because of the

"The loan that Habitat holds on her behalf does not bear interest, so that's how it becomes affordable. Take the interest out of the equation for these families, that's what Habitat does," Modarelli said.

Three additional Lehigh homes located in the same community were completed and dedicated on Thursday, Aug. 15, at 4 p.m.



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