Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento this past week honored the Sacramento City Attorney’s Office for its innovative work in helping to create more affordable housing.
The leadership award was presented to City Attorney Susana Alcala Wood and her office during Habitat for Humanity’s 28th annual Hammy Awards held April 28 at the Mack Powell Center.
Leah Miller, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento, commended the City Attorney’s Office and its Justice for Neighbors program, which, in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, has helped to transform former illegal cannabis grow houses into affordable housing for families.
“We are honored to partner with the team in the Sacramento City Attorney’s office on this out-of-the-box solution to turn blighted properties into opportunities for affordable housing while at the same time, positively impacting the immediate neighbors who have been long plagued with the burden of dealing with illegal activity next door,” Miller said. “It’s a win-win solution on so many levels.”
Through the Justice for Neighbors program, property owners who have been cited for illegally growing cannabis can choose to donate their properties in lieu of paying administrative penalties. The donated property then can be converted to affordable housing.
“What we have found is that this type of asset donation can be an alternative that works well for all parties involved,” Alcala Wood said.
While facilitated by the City, the agreement to transfer the property is between the property owner and Habitat for Humanity. The City never takes ownership of the home.
To date, Habitat has been able to accept three houses donated directly from property owners, rehab them and create affordable homeownership opportunities for hard working families who put in 500 hours of sweat equity working on the construction.
Miller at the ceremony said this type of collaborative partnership is key to creating more affordable housing in Sacramento.
“There is no one silver bullet to solving the current affordable housing crisis in our community,” Miller said. “No one person, organization, city or state government can solve it alone – it will take all of us working together to develop innovative solutions to even make a dent.”
Illicit cannabis remains a major problem in Sacramento and across California, with illegal grows affecting the health and safety of local neighborhoods as well as the stability of the legal cannabis market. Each year, the City of Sacramento abates thousands of illegal cannabis plants.
The City’s rules for legally growing cannabis for personal use can be found here.
Launched in 2006, the City’s Justice for Neighbors program works to establish partnerships between the City Attorney’s Office, enforcement officers and the community to efficiently and promptly eliminate or reduce threats to the public health and safety in local neighborhoods.