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November 12, 2010 > Rehabilitating foreclosures offers homeownership opportunities

Rehabilitating foreclosures offers homeownership opportunities

Submitted by Jo Ann Driscoll, Habitat for Humanity
Photo by Simon Wong

In a partnership funded by California's Department of Housing and Community Development and the US Housing and Urban Development's Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), Habitat for Humanity East Bay (HEB) and the City of Hayward are working to help rebuild lives and neighborhoods that have been affected by the sub-prime mortgage crisis and ever-increasing area property foreclosures. They are joined in this effort by community volunteers, local businesses and corporations who work together to renovate homes and provide opportunities for homeownership for income-qualified working families in the Hayward community.

HEB and the City of Hayward dedicated the first home completed as part of the NSP on Thursday, November 4, at 27689 Pompano Avenue, Hayward. This is the first of 23 homes which will be rehabilitated in the program. The four-member Bamberger family received the keys to their home in the company of elected officials, city staff, friends, neighbors, volunteers and others who provided the hands-on work for the renovation of their home.

Mayor Michael Sweeney, Councilmen Bill Quirk, Marvin Peixoto, Mark Salinas and Francisco Zermeno, Redevelopment Director Maret Bartlett from the Hayward Redevelopment Agency which administers the program, Regional Vice President of The Home Depot Aaron Carmack, Chair of HEB Board of Directors David Barron, Director Tom McBroom and HEB President and CEO Janice Jensen, celebrated.

The City of Hayward has received approximately $3M in grant funding to support this program. These funds will be used in partnership with Habitat East Bay to purchase and rehabilitate vacant and foreclosed homes in an effort to prevent blight and decay and help stabilize neighborhoods. In addition to government support, local business and corporations have been generous. Home Depot has provided cash sponsorship, in-kind donations of materials and volunteers to help rehabilitate this home.

In addition to property renovation in Hayward, HEB is also rehabilitating homes in Bay Point, Antioch, Newark and Emeryville and developing homes from the ground up in Oakland and Bay Point. The East Bay saw more than 3,400 foreclosures in the second quarter of 2010, accounting for more than half of Bay Area foreclosures. Many are abandoned and vacant in once healthy communities.

"This year, we're doubling our capacity from 25 families served per year, to 50," said Janice Jensen, President and CEO of HEB. "A big part of our growth has been through the NSP. Habitat East Bay successfully purchased vacant, bank-owned homes and renovated and sold them to income-qualified families. Expanding our services in this economy is not easy but this is also the time when affordable housing solutions are needed most."

The Bamberger family looks forward to moving from their studio apartment to their new three-bedroom home. HEB purchased the property in the spring, began work in June and selected Mario and Linda Bamberger as future owners. They are life-long Hayward residents who wish to raise their children, eight-year old Daisy and Jacob, aged five, in their home town. Mario and his wife put in sweat equity by participating in the renovation.

They are family-oriented and participate fully in their children's education. Mario is attending community college and plans to transfer to a four-year university for a bachelor's degree in Recreation.

"I'd like to thank Habitat, the City of Hayward, everyone who has given us a chance for a brighter future," said Mario Bamberger appreciatively. "I enjoyed working with and learning from the volunteers, listening to David Barron's 'history' of Hayward, where he grew up, and to my grandparents' and relatives' accounts of how the city has changed - Mission Boulevard used to pass through farmland before residential and commercial buildings sprang up. This opportunity will enable us to help others. HEB's ethos of building lives and communities is one we hold dear."

In addition to being the largest Habitat affiliate in Northern California, HEB is also one of the Bay Area's leading green affordable home builders. The newly remodeled Hayward home contains a number of energy-saving features, including a new roof with rigid insulation, dual pane windows, wall insulation, low VOC paint, new lighting, new plumbing, low-flow toilets, new flooring, drought-tolerant landscaping, water-efficient irrigation, a 95 percent-efficient furnace and solar hot water system.

Those wishing to apply for these below market rate, affordable homes in Hayward are invited to contact HEB's home sales facilitator, Bay Area Home Buyer Agency, at (888) 572-1222 x125 or visit www.myhomegateway.com

Volunteers are also needed in Hayward and throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties. To learn more about Habitat East Bay's work, to volunteer or donate to the home building efforts, visit www.HabitatEB.org or call (510) 251-6304.

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