SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — “Grow houses” as they’re called — homes that are used to illegally grow cannabis — have become a major issue in Sacramento.
Another major issue for the city: access to affordable housing.
Now, a non-profit organization has teamed up with a city leader to turn former grow houses into new houses — all with the goal to lift up neighborhoods and create affordable housing.
Having a home to call her own is something Anna Belikova has been looking for for years. Now, this single mother of two has one.
“I’m going to home to my sweet home,” said Belikova, who received her house through the program. “It’s beautiful right now.”
The home is perfect, complete with a garden — but the home didn’t always look the part.
These photos show how unkept it was before anna ever moved in. and on the inside. The home used to host an illegal grow operation.
Those in charge of the operation were caught and were faced with two options: They could either face heavy fines or they could avoid those fines by donating the home to habitat for humanity of greater Sacramento as part of its affordable home ownership program.
“The impact of building affordable housing is huge,” Leah Miller, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento said.
Miller said as soon as a former grow house has been donated, her team begins the process to remodel and find a new tenant.
That tenant must qualify for the program on a need basis, most often a person or family experiencing hardship.
“Through this unique partnership, we’re able to take those former illegal cannabis grow homes that have been a blight on the community and turn them into something positive by providing affordable homeownership opportunity for a family and at the same time working to revitalize a neighborhood,” Miller said.
The issue of illegal pot grow houses has garnered the attention of 6th district Councilmember Eric Guerra. He has partnered with habitat.
“Being able to have somebody who can come in, take care of the mold, fix all of the electrical, and make it not only that, put families who are unhoused in homes with kids, it’s the perfect piece of all worlds that are making our community better,” Guerra said.
But habitat does not simply hand over the home to the new tenant. To get the house with its affordable mortgage rate and an all-electric energy-efficient solar plan, the tenant must put in what’s called 500 sweat equity hours, or in layman’s terms, physical work to help remodel the new home.
Belikova and her son did just that before moving in.
And for Belikova’s daughter, Victoria, who remembers having to move around from place to place as a child while her mother worked multiple jobs, to have a roof over her head is a blessing.
“It’s amazing to be in this house,” Victoria said. “Have my own room now. I have my own privacy. I’m thankful for my mom because she tried really hard to make this happen.”
The program turns what was once a dream into a new reality.
“I never imagined that I can be homeowner,” Belikova said. “I still sometimes don’t believe it.
Tap or click here to learn more about Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento’s home ownership program.