A History Of Housing

Keystone Challenge Fund is a non-profit organization established in 1991 in Lakeland, Florida. For 30 years, Keystone has maximized the availability of affordable housing for low and moderate income homebuyers to connect families with homeownership. Through construction, rehabilitation and down payment assistance, Keystone has participated in over $640 million in residential real estate development. As a result, nearly 4,400 families have become homeowners. Keystone is committed to serving the community by improving lives through homeownership. Among the families who received assistance, more than 1,200 were single parents. The programs offered by Keystone have been possible through longstanding partnerships with local governments and agencies including the City of Lakeland, Polk County, the City of Winter Haven, and the Housing Finance Authority of Polk County.

Since 1995, Keystone has administered more than $27 million in down payment assistance through the State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP). In 1996, Keystone advanced their affordable housing initiative by becoming a Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) of Polk County. Over 190 homes were developed for low income homebuyers. Keystone makes a direct impact on many communities by maximizing the availability of affordable housing, increasing economic growth through job creation, as well as increasing the local tax base. Keystone’s CHDO program develops new properties, as well as purchases and rehabilitates existing properties. In 2009, Keystone was awarded the role of Developer in the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) in Polk and Pasco County. In Polk County, over 250 homes were rehabilitated and sold to low and moderate income families.

Keystone provides free Homebuyer Education courses every month to anyone interested in pursuing the path to homeownership. The education program is approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It allows potential homebuyers to learn about the demands of homeownership and find out how to take advantage of financial resources. Additionally, Keystone offers pre-purchase counseling sessions for homebuyers. The counseling allows new homebuyers to address their questions while covering important topics including closing documents, mortgage and down payment assistance, budgeting, maintaining a new home, and life insurance.

Keystone supports many local, state and federal housing assistance programs:

  • State Housing Initiative Partnership Program (SHIP) (1995-Present)
  • Home Investment Partnership Program (HOME) (1993-Present)
  • HOPE VI Program (2003-2008)
  • Housing Finance Authority of Polk County (1993-Present)
  • Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency Programs (2007-Present)
  • Neighborhood Stabilization Program in Polk and Pasco County (NSP1 and NSP3) (2009-2018)


For any questions about Keystone, please contact us: