From Victoria Hayden – Interesting article on Habitat for Humanity Program

June 12, 2009

From: Victoria Hayden [mailto:vahayden@sonic.net]
Sent: Thursday, June 11, 2009 2:58 PM

Support Habitat for Humanity Foreclosure Acquisiting Program Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version Tuesday, June 09 2009 @ 03:21 PM Habitat for Humanity Introduces Foreclosure Acquisition Program; Partners with the City of Menlo Park to Revitalize Neighborhoods Offers beacon of hope in the foreclosure crisis with combined initial investment of $1.0 million with the city for the first five homes

REDWOOD CITY, CALIF., May 27, 2009 — Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco today announced it has begun acquiring bank-owned homes as part of its new Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) — the first of its kind in the San Francisco Bay Area. Habitat has committed $500,000 to launch the program, which will enable new affordable homeownership opportunities for local working families following rehabilitation of the homes by Habitat.

Habitat Greater San Francisco has also entered into a groundbreaking new partnership with the city of Menlo Park, which is investing an additional $500,000 in the program. With this combined initial invest- ment of $1.0 million, Habitat plans to acquire and rehabilitate five vacant bank-owned properties in the Belle Haven neighborhood of Menlo Park, with a possible program expansion following the initial pilot phase. Habitat made the announcement at the site of the first home under the program in Menlo Park. Habitat hopes to expand the program to other areas hard-hit by the foreclosure crisis.

“I have seen first-hand the impact of foreclosures on Menlo Park and know that we must take immediate action to address the problem” said Heyward Robinson, Mayor of Menlo Park. “I’m grateful that we have a community that is willing to step up and address this challenge when the federal and state governments couldn’t. I am very hopeful that the combined efforts of Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco and the City of Menlo Park will prove successful and become a blueprint for other communities attempting to cope with the foreclosure crisis.”

Over the past year, foreclosure signs have become an all too common sight in the Bay Area and around the country. The crisis has caused families to be displaced and, in some cases, to leave their communities for good. Yet San Mateo County has maintained a relatively low foreclosure rate. At less than one percent, the county’s foreclosure rate has actually obscured the magnitude of the problem in places like the Belle Haven neighborhood of Menlo Park and other areas like it where foreclosure rates are four to six times higher than that of other communities.

Communities, through no fault of their own, are hard-pressed to deal with the growing glut of homes that are standing vacant, in many cases blighted, and having a devastating effect on their local neighborhoods. Unlike other communities in the Bay Area and across the country, San Mateo County was ineligible for federal neighborhood stabilization funds, leaving communities like Menlo Park that are facing growing instability in their housing markets to come up with a workable solution on their own without federal assistance. The Neighborhood Revitalization Program represents a unique public/private initiative drawing support from many sectors of the community to help revitalize local neighborhoods destabilized by the crisis. Utilizing the work of noted architecture firm, Saida + Sullivan, the visual impact of the rehabilitation will transform a neglected property into a beacon of community hope.

Families selected for the new program will help with the reconstruction and refurbishment of the homes as part of the standard sweat equity requirement of the Habitat program. They will also have access to the same terms of Habitat’s homeownership program, including no down payment and a zero-interest mortgage, to purchase their homes.
They will undergo significant homeownership education and training, just as all Habitat families do, helping to keep Habitat’s foreclosure rate at less than one percent locally and around the country.

The Neighborhood Revitalization Program is an extension to Habitat Greater San Francisco’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 new homes in five years. With the NRP program, Habitat Greater San Francisco hopes to acquire and rehabilitate at least 15 additional homes over the next two years to help put local neighborhoods that are at risk of decline on the path to recovery. Habitat plans to establish more partnerships in the community to bring in additional funding sources, and is especially eager to see banks and lending institutions step up. Banks looking to remove “toxic assets” from the mortgage crisis off their books will find a partnership with Habitat Greater San Francisco to be an ideal solution-creating responsible and affordable homeownership opportunities for local working families.

About Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International that partners with working families and the community to build affordable ownership homes in Marin, San Francisco and the Peninsula. Formed through the merger of Peninsula Habitat for Humanity and Habitat for Humanity San Francisco in August 2008, Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco provides a unique solution to the local housing crisis and has enabled nearly 150 families to purchase affordable housing since 1989. For additional information about Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco, go to: www.habitatgsf.org .
Media Contact:
Jennifer Doettling, Communications Director
650-568-7335 / 650-430-4248 (cell)
jdoettling@habitatgsf.org

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