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Habitat for Humanity Welcomed in Wealthy Enclave that Once Opposed It

The foreclosure crisis has taken a turn in California’s wealthy Marin County, according to Miriam Alex-Lute at Rooflines. Marin residents waged a legal fight a few years back to keep out Habitat for Humanity, the charitable group that builds houses for low-income buyers. But now that abandoned, foreclosed houses are showing up in Marin, Lute reports the county is opening the door to Habitat, which will rehab one of the foreclosed properties.

Just three years ago, Marin county residents were busy raising money for a legal fight to stop Habitat for Humanity from building four homes affordable to families making under $56,000/year, saying it would “blight” their exclusive neighborhood of million dollar plus houses. (The project is still being debated.)

But now they are being welcomed with open arms in another part of the county as they renovate one of the foreclosed homes that even Marin has acquired a passel of. Habitat bought the house, which needs extensive rehab, for $215,00. It doesn’t sound affordable exactly to those of us in more affordable parts of the country, but in a county where the median home price is $800,000, I guess it qualifies.

Nothing like a wave of foreclosures to change those “Not In My Backyard” attitudes. This, by the way, is what affordable housing looks like in Marin.

As the Marin case shows, high-priced homes are increasingly going into foreclosure. Don’t be surprised to see Habitat next in a place like Palm Beach, Fla. Or maybe the group will take on even more foreclosures in Marin. The one constant about this crisis is that no region escapes its reach, even neighborhoods that once thought they were safe. For some once-exclusive cul-de-sac communities, it may be time to drop the NIMBY attitude, roll up your sleeves, and help out with the Habitat renovation.

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