Habitat for Humanity Introduces First Home in Marin County

October 27, 2009

NOVATO, Calif., Oct. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco today introduced its first home in Marin County after more than 15 years of efforts to bring affordable housing from Habitat to the county. With growing community support, Habitat has acquired a vacant and neglected foreclosed home in Novato as part of its Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) — helping to revitalize neighborhoods that have been destabilized by foreclosures and creating responsible homeownership opportunities for local working families. Volunteers from Wells Fargo and PG&E joined the Habitat construction team to begin reconstruction work on the home following a groundbreaking ceremony this morning.

The Marin Community Foundation is providing a start-up grant of $250,000 to help launch the program in Marin. “Habitat’s Neighborhood Revitalization Program is a win-win solution not only for working families in Marin, but also for the entire community as Habitat helps to transform blighted properties into hope and opportunity, one home at a time,” said Dr. Thomas Peters, President & CEO of the Marin Community Foundation. “The program has worked well in other communities, and we believe it will provide a positive solution to the foreclosure problem in Marin.”

Habitat’s purchase of the Novato home is modeled after a successful launch of the program in Menlo Park, where Habitat has acquired four abandoned bank-owned homes since April. In early October, a Habitat family moved in to the first NRP home after just five months of reconstruction. “Compared to the construction time of two to five years for a new Habitat development, this five-month turnaround couldn’t have come at a better time, when families and neighborhoods are searching for relief,” said Habitat Greater San Francisco’s Executive Director, Phillip Kilbridge.

Marin County is one of the least affordable housing markets in the United States, with median home prices above $800,000. Although prices are dipping as a result of the foreclosure crisis, the vast majority of working families are still unable to buy a home in Marin. The shortage of affordable housing has pushed low-income wage earners out of the market, forcing long-distance commutes and increased traffic congestion as a result of workers living outside the county.

Despite the fact that Marin County has the highest per capita income of any county in the nation, it has been hit by the foreclosure crisis like all other California communities. Countywide, nearly two percent of housing units are either in default or bank-owned, but in areas like Novato and San Rafael’s Canal neighborhood, rates are three times that.

By creating new affordable homeownership opportunities for working families willing to partner with Habitat, Habitat’s program helps ensure that mistakes of the past won’t be repeated. As part of the Habitat program, families must qualify financially to purchase the homes from Habitat with a zero-interest, zero-down mortgage, plus add 500 hours of “sweat equity” working alongside volunteers to refurbish the homes. Families must also undergo homeownership training. With this approach, Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco has had no foreclosures in its 20-year history.

The Neighborhood Revitalization Program is an extension of Habitat’s traditional model of new home construction. As part of the organization’s “Hope Begins at Home” campaign, Habitat Greater San Francisco has set a goal of building 100 more homes by 2013. The NRP is one element of that strategy. Habitat plans to establish more partnerships in the community to bring in additional funding sources for the NRP.

The Marin Community Foundation is the primary center for philanthropy in Marin County, CA and is one of the largest community foundations in the U.S. It manages the assets of the Leonard and Beryl H. Buck Trust and 350 funds established by individuals, families, and businesses. The Foundation makes significant improvements in communities around the world in two ways: by spearheading initiatives for long-term, sustainable change in Marin, and by distributing grants from donor-advised funds locally, across the U.S., and around the world.

About Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco

Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco partners with working families and the community to build affordable ownership homes in Marin, San Francisco and the Peninsula. Providing a unique solution to the local housing crisis, Habitat has enabled more than 150 families to purchase affordable housing since 1989.

SOURCE Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco

Source: newswire

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