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Determination is the Key

Determination is the KeyDetermination is the Key

Determination is the Key to Homeownership!

 Establishing an opportunity for home ownership can be a daunting prospect, with a number of organizations – private and public – involved. The determination to own your own home is one key to navigating the maze. Having the right people to guide you is another.

For 35 years Northbay Family Homes of Novato has created affordable homeownership opportunities. The company has always had the goal of creating affordable homes for individuals while meeting the needs of the larger community. They’ve created thousands of affordable homes throughout California, and several of their projects have won nationwide awards for innovation as well as affordability.

The company recently expanded its vision yet again. Today its goal is nothing less than stimulating America’s economy while reducing America’s carbon footprint, to improve life on the whole planet.

 NFH realized that reducing a home’s energy usage makes it more affordable for a family to live there. The company’s latest program, REO Homes for the Workforce, removes properties from the ranks of foreclosed homes, improves the properties to make them “greener,” then arranges for the homes to be purchased by lower-income families. The result is a win-win for the family as well as the community.

Here’s how it works: NFH identifies an REO property (also known as a bank-owned or foreclosure property) that would be suitable for a workforce family, including at least one school age child. With funding arranged through the Wells Fargo Community Development Corporation, the property is purchased by NFH’s sister nonprofit, the Suburban Alternatives Land Trust.  In this way, SALT/NFH work to preserve affordable homes for working families and prevent them from turning into rentals owned by private investors.

Then, SALT uses funds provided by foundations supporting neighborhood stabilization, affordable homeownership and green improvements, the property is rehabilitated with green improvements to make it more energy-efficient.  The first two homes were green-rehabbed under a program supported by the Marin Community Foundation, and with assistance through Home Depot’s U.S. Communities program and a grant from Pacific Gas and Electric Company. 

In the case of the Novato townhouse that was purchased in June 2011 by Hanan Ibrahim for her family of four, the renovation was enormous: The 35-year-old heating system was replaced with a 95% efficient AFUE heater. New Energy Star appliances, including a refrigerator and water heater, were installed. The home received new wood flooring, new carpeting, new energy-efficient windows, new paint, new closets and new patio fencing. Additionally, special attention was paid to upgrade the home with high efficiency LED and CFL lights in the bedrooms, kitchen and dining areas. The total spent on improvements, including appliances and labor, was tens of thousands of dollars, a sum that may well have been prohibitive to a private investor but was available to NFH because of its standing as a nonprofit organization.

 Finally, NFH identifies a family that might be interested in owning the home and guides the family through all the steps that need to be taken to purchase it, using one of the many affordable-home-purchase programs that NFH offers.

SALT and NFH will continue this program through 2011 and 2012 with an aim to acquire, rehab and resell at least 20 homes in Marin to qualified workforce families.  NFH can provide $15,000 of down payment assistance to qualified homebuyers of the green rehabbed REOs.  SALT and NFH will extend the reach of this important program with the support of local foundations and public agencies.  

Northbay Family Homes’ passion and purpose are to make home ownership a reality for people in Marin County and throughout California. Call 415-897-7744 or visit the website, www.nfh.org, for more information. 

If you would like to make an appointment to speak with NFH’s affordable Homeownership Counselor, please call Terry Ward at 415-897-1133 or email him at terry@nfh.org