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Local Habitat to turn distressed properties into affordable housing for vets

A silver lining has emerged in the preponderance of repossessed properties across the United States.

Bank of America is donating up to 2,000 houses to Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the country.

And Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity is one of 158 affiliates selected to receive the properties over the next three years.

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It also is one of 23 affiliates that will use the properties to provide affordable housing to veterans or to families of fallen service members.

The houses will be renovated and used as part of Richmond Habitat’s new “Habitat for Heroes” program.

To date, Richmond Habitat has accepted seven of 15 houses into the program, Jane V. Helfrich, chief executive officer of Richmond Habitat, said Tuesday.

The homes are located in middle-class neighborhoods ranging from a townhouse in the Short Pump area in western Henrico County to a colonial-style home in Midlothian.

The group didn’t accept all 15 houses because some were too big or too expensive to renovate, Helfrich said. Many more homes will be offered over the next three years.

Richmond Habitat paid 10 percent of the last listed price for each property. The acquisition cost is not through Bank of America. Rather, it is being used by Habitat International to conduct title searches.

Additional costs are needed to rehabilitate the homes. Those dollars will be raised through fundraising efforts.

“We are pleased to announce that financial support is already flowing in,” said Nancy Melton, vice president of development and marketing with Richmond Habitat.

Melton said Richmond Habitat has met with military and veterans organizations to recruit partner families for the program.

Applicants will need to meet income and needs guidelines to be eligible to purchase these homes at discounted pricing.

Qualified veterans and their families will receive interest-free mortgages, and they will not be required to make down payments.

“Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity is honored by the opportunity to serve those who have served and protected us during their time in the military,” Helfrich said.

“By providing safe, affordable homeownership opportunities to local veterans, we are able to do our small part in honoring the impact these courageous men and women have made on our lives.”

Helfrich said she is grateful for Bank of America’s commitment to providing safe, affordable housing in this community.

The initiative makes affordable homes available, combats neighborhood blight that may occur around vacant properties and helps to stabilize and revitalize communities, the bank said in a statement.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, through its foundation, has provided financial support to Habitat for Humanity for 25 years.

chazard@timesdispatch.com

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