MLK’s Fight for Fair Housing Helps Families Achieve Their Dreams


CLEARWATER, Florida. One of the equal rights that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for was fair housing laws.

Through his legacy of activism and advocacy, King has improved the homes of countless families and paved the way for families to achieve the American dream of owning a home.

Motivated by his actions, housing advocates took the lead, working to protect people from discrimination based on gender or marital status, age, religion, and disability.

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Thanks to the efforts of King and his followers, families now live in homes that would not have been available 50 years ago.

To celebrate these hard-won changes, the Pinellas and West Pasco Counties Habitat for Humanity saw fit to give the keys to new homes to two families on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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“On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Habitat reflected on the historic contributions of Dr. King, who helped pave the way for the fair housing laws that continue to protect millions of Americans today,” said Mike Sutton, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Pinellas and West Pasco counties.

“He was a civil rights symbol who fought for equal rights, including fair housing laws. Spurred on by the Civil Rights Movement and standing on the shoulders of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., housing advocates have sought to expand protections against various discriminatory practices, Sutton said. “Through the tireless efforts of Dr. King and others, a new era of housing law has helped countless families improve their housing conditions as well as realize the American dream of owning a home.”

Habitat for Humanity partnered with NAACP St. Pete to honor the latest benefactors of this fight for fair housing on MLK Day, the Henderson and Allen families.

“NAACP St. Petersburg is proud to support the Human Habitat of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties as they dedicate two homes to two deserving families,” said NAACP St. Petersburg CEO Esther Matthews.

“It’s always a great day for a family to turn the key in their new home,” Matthews said. “It’s no secret that Habitat for Humanity has had a significant impact in tackling the affordable housing crisis in Pinellas and Pasco County.”

Matthews said that when the NAACP teams up with a community partner, it selects partners that match one of the NAACP’s areas of work. In this case, Habitat for Humanity helped meet the NAACP’s commitment to economic sustainability. Families are not just handed the keys to the house. They play a decisive role in its construction.

Habitat homeowner candidates complete the required 32 homebuyer training courses as well as 350+ hours of work. They then buy their homes with a zero-interest loan through Habitat, keeping their mortgage affordable.

“I look forward to many more opportunities to support Mike and his team as he moves forward towards the goal of all families achieving the American dream of homeownership,” Matthews said.

Like many other families, Nisha Henderson, a medical support assistant at Bay Pines Veterans Affairs and a single mother to her 4-year-old son, Jasion, said she desperately wanted her son to grow up in a real home, but struggled I tried hard to find a home. a home that was affordable in today’s tight housing market.

“He’s a bundle of energy,” Henderson said of Jace. “He loves Spider-Man, going outside and running.”

Being accepted into the Habitat program was a dream come true because Henderson knew the house would give Jace the opportunity to run and play in a safe environment.

As soon as she was told she was accepted, “I cried like a baby,” she said. “So many emotions swept over me at the same time: joy, happiness and, most importantly, relief.”

In addition to getting a new home at 1108 Tangerine St., Clearwater, the Hendersons received items for their new home from Pinellas Community Partnerships sponsors, including a new bike for Jace to use some of that energy.

Like Henderson, Terrina Allen, a certified Professional Healthcare professional, said she also dreams of owning her own home.

“It was very important for me to own a house,” said the mother of 19-year-old Amondrai. However, she lacked confidence in her ability to own the house.

“I was not taught about savings, home ownership or reliability in my family,” Allen said. “But I was determined to defy the odds because I know what it’s like to sleep in an orphanage and guard your child and things.”

Habitat for Humanity staff helped her navigate the process and guided her through the steps needed to purchase a home, while Habitat donors Michael and Carolina Holtz provided her with everything she needed.

“Now I’m the second person in my family to own a house,” she said, jingling the keys to her new home at 3639 Fairfield Ave. S, St. Petersburg. “The experience taught me to never give up, keep my eyes on the prize and create a foundation for me and my son.”

The Allens and Hendersons are among more than 790 families who have participated in the Pinellas and Pasco County Habitat for Humanity program since 1985.

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