BAY POINT -- When Chenoa Denard and her family move into their new home in Bay Point in the coming weeks, it will be a world away from where they live now in a low-income apartment near the West Oakland BART station.
Denard recently became the owner of the five-bedroom house in Bay Point, thanks to program of Habitat for Humanity's East Bay/Silicon Valley chapter that buys and fixes up foreclosed homes with the sweat equity help of the homeowner and volunteers.
"The environment is more friendly. It's just a complete change of environment," said Denard, who works as a manager at an Oakland credit union. "It is a neighborhood. When you come down the street, I see kids
running around and riding their bikes."
The house will be home to Denard and her four children: 12-year-old Michael, 7-year-old Amiyah and one-year-old twins Mariyah and Cheniya, along with Denard's 17-year-old sister, Patricia.
The Denard family expects to move into its new home once the finishing touches are done and escrow closes on the property's 30-year no-interest mortgage. Habitat for Humanity home prices are calculated based on a family's household income.
"It was horrible," Denard said of the property's initial condition after the chapter purchased it as a foreclosure in February 2013. "It's definitely not the same house as it is now. I used my imagination to see the possibilities. I never used a hammer before so that was interesting. My sister and I took the bathroom apart."
The home was fixed up with the help of a $125,000 community development block grant obtained from Contra Costa County along with a $63,000 contribution from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. It is 15th foreclosed home that has been purchased and renovated in the Bay Point community as part of the chapter's ongoing neighborhood revitalization initiative launched in 2010.
Bay Point was the first community to be a focus of the initiative. In addition to fixing up foreclosed homes, other components of the initiative involve working with volunteers to spruce up local schools, doing trail improvement work, and removing graffiti. Last year, the chapter launched a second neighborhood revitalization initiative in an east San Jose neighborhood.
"In Bay Point especially, we have all kinds of different housing solutions -- new homes and renovated homes and repairing homes," said Janice Jensen, the chapter's executive director. "We bought (the Denard's) home as a foreclosure and it was in pretty rough shape. It needed a lot of work. We took it down essentially to the studs... Now it's a wonderful home."
Renovating foreclosed homes also helps bring up neighborhood property values in the, Jensen said.
"During the recession, sadly Bay Point was heavily hit in the foreclosure crisis and a lot of investors came in and bought, but that's not really helping the neighborhood," she said. "We try to come in and make sure not only does a family find a home, but that we are adding a wonderful asset to the neighborhood."
In all, the chapter is on track to have a total of 72 home renovations completed by the end of 2014 in Contra Costa, Alameda and Santa Clara counties.
For more information about Habitat home ownership programs, go to http://www.habitatebsv.org/Homeownership/Apply-for-Homeownership
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.
For information about Habitat home ownership programs go to http://www.habitatebsv.org/Homeownership/Apply-for-Homeownership