Cedar Pointe Saved My Life
"I feel safe." That is the first thing that comes to mind to Thomas Abbot, one of Cedar Pointe's newest residents, when he thinks about what Cedar Pointe means to him.
Cedar Pointe, a 10-year-long relationship between Hillsborough County and Tampa Housing Authority, started in 2009 when Affordable Housing purchased a dilapidated, multifamily property and gave the affordable housing project to Tampa Housing Authority to oversee - from design and construction to property management. Ten years and two phases later, Cedar Pointe has been transformed into a newly-constructed, 84-unit complex that offers an affordable, smart living community to Hillsborough County residents, like Thomas Abbot.
Thomas, originally from Maine, found himself homeless after he spent everything he had on caring for terminally-ill family members, including his mom, sister, and wife. After being homeless for more than five months while living in a van, the only thing he and his son had left from their life in Maine, Thomas found himself working with Gracepoint to find permanent housing. Through a partnership with Tampa Housing Authority, Gracepoint was able to help place Thomas in one of the three Cedar Pointe units set aside especially for those transitioning out of homelessness.
"When they took me into the apartment for the first time, I broke down and started crying. It was home," said Thomas. "Everything just like I used to have at home. Top-end appliances…it was cool…it had hardwood floors, tile floors. And a bathroom - you don't know how important a bathroom is in your life until you don't have one."
Not only does Cedar Pointe provide a safe, affordable place to live, it also provides unique resources designed to help its residents progress in life. In addition to the state-of-the-art amenities, each unit comes with a computer so every resident has access to the Internet right in their own apartment. Keith Walker, another Cedar Pointe resident and Tampa native, utilized the amenities provided to work toward goals he set for himself.
"[Cedar Pointe] gave me the opportunity to grow and have those things to use right here in my community," said Keith. "I could do what I needed to do while I was in college and get my degree. It allowed me to further my education and continue to build myself."
Now as a recent University of South Florida graduate, Keith has set his sights on a new goal - home ownership. Self-sufficiency programs are also another feature for residents, like Keith, at Cedar Pointe. The programs focus on educational advancement, job training and placement, and financial stability - all with the end goal of self-sufficiency.
"I've been here since the apartments opened, and there are a lot of the same faces still here but I've seen the growth in a lot of them," said Keith. "I've seen a lot of people come from barely making it, and now they are going through the program like me and working towards becoming a homeowner. It [Cedar Pointe] is not a stopping point for everyone. It is a point - a rest stop - to build yourself up and be able to go further in your life."
No matter the background of its residents, Cedar Pointe seems to have the same effect on everyone - thankfulness. "Today I'm so grateful. Thank you from the bottom of my heart," said Thomas. "This has changed my life. Actually, saved my life. It saved my life."