There are few reasons to be happy about a collapsing housing market, rising unemployment, and a record number of foreclosures. The economic slowdown has one ironic benefit, however. Organizations that put low income families in homes are doing so more easily now thanks to real estate "deals" across the country.
Bill Casey is the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater New Haven. He says in the last several years it's been very difficult for Habitat to purchase existing homes because of a booming housing market and resulting high home prices. Now that the housing bubble has burst, Habitat is able to go in and purchase existing homes for a cheaper price.
"This past fall we were able to acquire a lot more properties at a much more reasonable rate," Casey said.
Instead of buying vacant lots of abandoned homes from the city or other property owners, Habitat for Humanity is able to rehabilitate existing homes throughout the Elm City.
Currently, Habitat is fixing up one home in New Haven, while two others are under construction.
Habitat's goals are to not only help the low income families who move in, but also to benefit the neighborhoods. Casey said, "We go into a neighborhood to put homeowners into homes and to help stabilize a neighborhood. We hope there's a ripple effect"
Habitat for Humanity is currently building two new homes on Wilson Street in New Haven. On adjacent Rosette Street, 5 homes were built a year and half ago, and neighbors are thrilled at the improvement.
Benito Castellano lives in one of the homes with his wife and 4 daughters. Following a liver transplant he says he owes "everything" to Habitat, "It's been great. The neighborhood looks better and safer."
Bill Casey says although Habitat is able to purchase lots and homes with more ease, there are more people than ever who need the help, "There's an unbelievable demand for affordable housing."
If you'd like to learn more about Habitat for Humanity, you can visit their website.