Illegal Grow House to become Habitat for Humanity Home

A South Sacramento house where marijuana used to be grown will soon be transformed into a three-bedroom home for a single mother and her children.

Councilman Eric Guerra encouraged the home’s owner to donate the building to Habitat of Humanity of Greater Sacramento instead of paying civil fines to the city. He's calling the rebuild a pilot project that could make it the first of many such transformations in the Capital City.

“We could potentially have over a thousand of these in the city of Sacramento,” said Guerra. “Those homes could be a thousand new homes for needy families.”

Renovation work will begin on the house in Sacramento's Glen Elder neighborhood this October and should be finished by the end of February. The new owners will have to put in 500 hours of sweat equity - working with Habitat for Humanity volunteers - but, when their new home is ready, they'll buy the house with a 30-year, interest-free mortgage.

"The project will also benefit the neighborhood,” said Habitat for Humanity’s Leah Miller. “It’s a neighborhood that’s seen a lot of unfortunate activity – some of it illegal – and families that are probably too afraid to play out in their front yards. By rehabbing this home in particular, there are families in the near proximity that will no longer have to fear the illegal activity that may be happening in the house across the street. They can come out and, hopefully, make friends with the people that live across the street. Kids can play together and help to revitalize a community."

Miller says the rebuild could be duplicated across the state - noting there are 42 Habitat for Humanity affiliates in California who could adopt similar programs in their communities.

Councilman Guerra is working to systemize such rebuilds.

“What we want to do is get the city council to pass an ordinance so that this becomes a formalized process,” Guerra explained. “And, that we also look at the penalty structure so that the fees we collect go directly into improving the neighborhoods.”

The City Attorney's office has stepped up enforcement against illegal grow homes in the last year - collecting $3.3 million dollars in fines over the last 13 months.

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