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New Affordable Housing Complex, New Apartment Smell

Hillsborough County cuts ribbon on latest affordable housing complex

This past Monday, after all the developers, government officials, and community supporters had left, there were several happy, joyous faces still at 4152 N Lois Ave. looking around. Those faces were the future residents of Sweetwater Villas, the latest affordable housing complex in Hillsborough County that officially opened Monday.

Residents set to live in the 56-unit complex were on site for the ribbon cutting, eager to see their brand new affordable apartments, including Larry Meads and his wife, Lorraine. Larry and Lorraine are not only excited about living on the ground floor, but also about the brand new condition of the apartment itself.

"It's wonderful! It's a lot more than I expected. It's beautiful," said Larry. "The property is nice and the apartment is great. I really can't wait to move in."

The apartments, which range from three bedrooms/two bathrooms to two bedrooms/two bathrooms, have tile throughout and brand-new, energy-efficient appliances in the kitchen and laundry rooms. Outside of the apartments, residents have a community center, a playground, and peaceful pond to explore.

One of the apartments that was open to tour happened to be the future home of another family who was also at the ribbon cutting. As people came in and out to tour, the mother smiled widely and boasted "this is mine, my new apartment." The apartment means even more to this mom as it is one of the units specially built for persons with mobility disabilities. In her new home, she will be able to easily navigate her daughter, who uses a wheelchair, throughout their first-floor, three-bedroom apartment.

Along with the units designated for people with mobility disabilities, Sweetwater Villas also offers units for persons transitioning out of homelessness and persons with hearing or visual disabilities.

Sweetwater Villas was developed by Blue Sky Communities and subsidized by Hillsborough County Affordable Housing through a $4.5 million grant, as well as other local funding.

Providing housing for people with moderate and low incomes is one of the area's biggest challenges. State Housing Initiative (SHIP) money for affordable housing has declined by more than 75 percent in Hillsborough County in the last two years. To make the most of available funds, the County cultivates public-private partnerships, such as ones with Blue Sky Communities.

"Blue Sky Communities is very proud for our partnership with Hillsborough County government, the staff, the Board of County Commissioners. They do a lot," said Shawn Wilson, President and CEO of Blue Sky Communities. "We had such an amazing response from the area to Sweetwater Villas. There is an enormous need and enormous demand."

Now that the official ribbon cutting is over, residents have started moving in and beginning to build their Sweetwater Villas community together.

Photo Information: Left to right: Adam Phillips (NDC Construction Company), Scott Macdonald (Blue Sky Communities), Shawn Wilson (Blue Sky Communities), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp, Florida State Representative Sean Shaw, Florida State Representative Jackie Toledo, Affordable Housing Director Cheryl Howell, and Chris Gray (NDC Construction Company)

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