Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Menlo Park Considers Mini-Bailout Plan

Federal government policy wonks aren't the only guys working on a plan to rescue the economy -- local governments are doing their part, too. In Menlo Park, councilman Andy Cohen is pitching an idea that would allow the city to buy, renovate and sell foreclosed homes.

Under Cohen's proposal, the city would allot $2 million, using money from a below-market-rate housing fund, to buy three foreclosed homes at a time. The houses would be renovated using a volunteer/building model similar to that of Habitat for Humanity, and after the houses are upgraded, they would be sold at below-market-rates to qualifying families.

Presumably, the neighborhood that would benefit most from the plan is Belle Haven, an area east of 101 that's rife with foreclosures, and where the median income falls dramatically short of the rest of Menlo Park.

And although it sounds like a worthy idea on paper, Cohen says it hasn't been easy to garner the interest of people who can make it happen.

"Under the best of circumstances, there would be private money, too, but I'm still putting out the feelers," Cohen says. "Our provincial city tends to think first and foremost about themselves and less about others."

Source: Chronicle Real Estate Team, Besty Schiffman reports

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