Lake Wales CRA Breaks Ground For Keystone Challenge Fund Build
by James Coulter
The City of Lake Wales and five other local entities hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off a construction project that would bring affordable housing to the B Street neighborhood area.
The Keystone Challenge Fund Build will help construct two houses along B Street in Northwest Lake Wales, across from the B Street Community Service Center. When completed, the project will provide affordable housing to families who meet specific criteria.
“Keystone works directly with low to moderate income families to secure financial assistance and provide homeowners education,” the Keystone website explains. “We eliminate the complexity and confusion of buying a home to help families achieve homeownership.”
The construction project was moved forward through a partnership with the City of Lake Wales and five other local entities: The Lake Wales CRA, Keystone Challenge Fund, Green and Gold Foundation, Polk County, and CenterState Bank.
CenterState Bank offered to finance the project with a donation of $30,000 awarded for down payment assistance. The actual check presented at the groundbreaking ceremony was made for double the proposed amount at $60,000.
“They live by their word of getting people into homes,” said Darrell Starling, CRA Coordinator for CRA 3, which services Northwest Lake Wales. “We are so thankful you are serving in this community, and you will be a staple in the community for years to come.”
Paul Gerard, Regional Community Manager for CenterState Bank, mentioned how his bank would be changing its name to SouthState Bank due to an upcoming merger. However, their commitment towards assisting the local community by providing affordable housing will remain the same, he assured everyone.
“We are proud to do what we do,” Gerrard said. “Our name may change, but our commitment to the communities we serve will never change.”
Narvell Peterson, President of the Green and Gold Foundation, had seen his neighborhood change for the better over the past few years. He remembered a time before the B Street Community Center existed, but now he has witnessed how the center has transformed the community, especially with the local markets like the one hosted that very morning.
Such transformation came about by people like him choosing to walk the walk instead of simply talking the talk. He hopes that this latest endeavor will serve as inspiration for more people to take the initiative.
“I do believe that some people want to see a sermon, not hear one,” he said. “We can hear one every Sunday morning, but we want to see a sermon. That is why we fight so hard…We know that to get good soil, we need to plant in good soil. When I drive by and see people working on good soil, I am happy.”
Mayor Eugene Fultz closed with an invocation. He thanked God for allowing the project to culminate into the groundbreaking ceremony and for allowing such a project to move forward. And he prayed that the final product serves their community well.
“Bless this ground that will be broken, bless the homes that will be put upon it, and bless the people that will go in these homes,” Fultz said. “Lord, let your spirit reign supreme, not only on these grounds here, but throughout this northwest area. Let this be the beginning of the revitalization; let this be the beginning of touching lives in a positive way.”