Habitat scores home run with salvaged foreclosures for needy

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(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Shanta Brown just got the keys to her future, her very own home. You could say she is being rescued by Habitat For Humanity.

“I want to have a home for my daughter,” Brown said.

The organization, known for building new homes for those in need, is trying something different. Its chapter in Charlotte, North Carolina is one of the first in the nation to start buying and rehabbing foreclosures instead.

“That’s really a win win [situation] for us. Us, our donors and our homeowners,” said Linda Blum, Development Director of Habitat For Humanity in Charlotte.

Win-win may not begin to cover it. Some of these homes go for as low as 35-thousand dollars. Put in about ten grand in repairs using volunteer labor and Habitat saves about $20,000-$40,000 per home.

“You cant build a house for this money – you simply can’t do it,” said Merritt Card, Land Acquisition Manger for Habitat For Humanity of Charlotte. “We’re paying roughly 40 cents on the dollar for these houses.”

Even better, it’s likely Habitat will be reimbursed for most of that money through a government program aimed at stabilizing neighborhoods like this one now crippled by foreclosures.

“We feel like its being part of a solution for a bigger problem,” Habitat’s Blum said.

Charlotte had more than 8,000 foreclosures last year. This year, filings are up by some 30 percent. So Habitat has bought 12 of them with plans for even more giving houses, neighborhoods and people like Shanta Brown a second chance.

“I’m like a kid on Christmas,” Brown said. “I can’t believe it”.

Volunteers may not have built Brown’s house from the ground up this time but there is no question they have laid a foundation for something much greater.

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