OWNERS GET KEYS TO WATER-CONSERVING HOMES
South Shore News & Tribune | Byline JOHN CEBALLOS
November 11, 2009
Veronica Mendez had been trying to become a first-time homeowner for two years.
"I was looking for a house, but I never qualified," said Mendez, as she stood in the kitchen of her new home. "I'm really lucky my mom told me about this place."
Mendez is one of six first-time homebuyers who received the keys to their new water-conserving, affordable homes during a Nov. 5 ceremony at Wimauma's Hidden Creek community.
The new homes were the first in Hillsborough County to be certified by the Florida Water Star Gold program, a collaboration between the Southwest Florida Water Management District and Florida Home Partnership, a nonprofit builder.
"We want to help our clients build homes that save water, both for their own cost savings and for the benefit of the environment," said Eileen Burke, an administrative coordinator for the Florida Home Partnership and one of the driving forces behind the Water Star Gold alliance. Burke gave each of the homeowners a ceremonial wooden key, courtesy of the Sun City Center Woodcarvers Club.
Florida Water Star Gold is a voluntary certification program for builders that encourages water efficiency in household appliances, plumbing fixtures, irrigation systems and landscapes.
"Water is a precious resource, and our goal is to find a way to conserve this resource in the best possible way," said Maritza Rovira-Forino, governing board member for Swiftmud. "Water conservation is especially important as we enter the fourth year of this drought."
Each of the homeowners worked with the builders on their new houses.
"No two homes are the same," said Susan Douglas, Water Star Gold certification coordinator.
Douglas also said every home in the 141-unit Hidden Creek Community, which is still under construction, would be Water Star Gold certified from here on out.
Prospective first-time homeowners in Hidden Creek must have an annual household income at or below 80 percent of the area median income, which is $19,800 to $62,500. They must also be willing to work a minimum of 600 hours on their new home.
"This partnership emphasizes that environmentally-friendly homes can also be affordable," Douglas said.
For information on the Florida Water Star Gold program, call 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4752.