Habitat for Humanity volunteers are tearing through disused homes in Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood at a remarkable rate, dismantling non-conforming units, gutting kitchens and bathrooms, installing new plumbing and electrical lines, replacing windows and doors and laying down sheetrock and stucco to prepare the homes for sale to working-class people.
The project is moving so quickly, in fact, that Habitat has asked Menlo Park to help it buy five homes in addition to the five purchases the city has already helped fund, as part of a program to purchase and repair bank-owned properties in a neighborhood that has experienced a rash of foreclosures during the economic recession.
The City Council could vote at its meeting Tuesday, March 2, on whether to grant $625,000 of funds from land developers to Habitat to extend the program. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers, located in the Civic Center complex between Laurel and Alma streets.
Habitat has bought five homes and finished renovating three since its work began in late May 2009. It plans to finish the remaining two homes by late spring, according to Menlo Park Housing Director Doug Frederick.
More than 1,000 volunteers, representing 42 organizations, have put some 6,500 hours into the task thus far, according to Mr. Frederick, who said volunteers are already lining up to work on additional homes Habitat might buy.
The foreclosure crisis is still chipping away at Belle Haven, Mr. Frederick said. One source estimates that there are currently 72 homes in the community that are either in default, at the point of a trustee sale, or owned by a bank.