BRIGHTON — Brighton resident Emma Urbina now lives in her dream home, thanks to the Tribe’s Construction and Development Department. The department, which bids for jobs alongside outside construction companies, built Urbina’s house in about six months. Brighton Board Rep. Larry Howard presented her with the keys to her new home on July 23.
Urbina has lived on the same home site for 18 years in an older house, which was demolished to make way for her new one: a four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom, nearly 4,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art showplace. Features include two covered porches, a game room with a wet bar and a master bath with a soaking tub. The kitchen is equipped with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, a center island, a gas cooktop and plenty of space to create family meals.
“I’ve been in the process of getting a new home since 2007, but it was always on the back burner,” Urbina said. “I hung in there, and I’m so happy with the house. I love it.”
The site of Urbina’s new home formerly belonged to her father. Along with the Construction and Development team, she designed the home to her specifications and chose the finishes, including the tile, carpet, paint color and light fixtures. She lives there with her husband, Jesus, daughters Jewel (the former Seminole Princess) and Rosa and son Timothy.
The Construction Department, established by the Board of Directors six years ago, has built homes for Tribal members on every reservation. To date, they have completed about a dozen and have the capacity to build many more custom homes every year.
“I believe we can put more members in homes if we have the land,” said Rep. Howard, who would like to develop another housing area on 65 acres at the Flowing Well Grove in Brighton. “Our main focus is to make sure members are well taken care of here in Brighton and at Big Cypress and Hollywood, too.”
The Construction Department has worked to improve efficiency in order to increase the department’s output. Although it’s a Tribal-run business, they must compete with other non-Tribal contractors for every job.
“This is business. There is no favoritism; fair is fair,” Rep. Howard said. “Winning the business is a stepping stone to showing people what we are capable of doing. We have increased efficiency already and finished this home on budget and two weeks early.”
Rep. Howard credits the entire team for the success.
“I want people to know their own Tribal business can do this just like other companies, but better,” he said.
“If every Tribal member would think like me and pick the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc., they would see they are investing in the Tribe by choosing a Tribal company,” she said. “I’m glad I did.”