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New program helps Port St. Lucie residents find affordable housing

Posted at 8:29 PM, Aug 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-08 20:29:58-04

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — We're told home ownership is part of the American dream, however, today's housing market makes it feel more like a pipe dream for many.

But a new program has given a handful of residents the chance to become first-time homeowners for a fraction of what the market is asking these days.

"I’ve waited for this for so long and it’s finally happened," said Colette Kemerer.

Kemerer is still taking it all in.

"I can finally have my friends over to my place," Kemerer said.

Kemerer spent her first night in a brand new Port St. Lucie home just two days ago after renting a room in Jensen Beach for the past seven years.

"The prices of homes were going up and I was like, this is never going to happen for me," Kemerer said.

The price tag for her new three bedroom, two bath home with impact windows, doors, and outdoor space was $130,500.

Kemerer, a local health care worker, was one of four first-time home buyers given the keys through a new affordable housing program in Port St. Lucie.

"It’s really exciting to bring this opportunities," said Cindee Lacourse-Blum, the executive director of the Community Land Trust of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, which partnered with the city.

"One of the unique things about this program is you had to live or work in Port St. Lucie," Lacourse-Blum said.

Federal grant money helped fund these homes for low-to-moderate income residents who met minimum credit score levels and attended a seminar on home ownership.

"When the home is resold, it’s only sold to another income-eligible buyer for another affordable price," Lacourse-Blum said.

Amie Rogers, a 28-year St. Lucie County school employee, had been looking to buy for 10 years.

"I always wanted a house and so it was something I was working forward to and this was the perfect program for me," Rogers said.

When she found out she was chosen in a lottery out of the more than 400 qualified applicants to get her new home, she had to pinch herself.

"I had to do a reality check," Rogers said.

It’s a life-changing feeling, Kemerer can relate to.

"If my mom wants to come for a month because she’s retired, she can come for a month, and she can stay in here," Kemerer said. “It means a lot to me. I’ve wanted this for the longest time and I’m just so grateful that I got this.”

Two more new homeowners will close and get their keys at the end of September.

The Community Land Trust of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast is hoping to have another handful of homes available for purchase in the city sometime next year.