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Richmond turns "zombie homes" into opportunities for low-income buyers

Still from JP Dobrin's video

Even in the Bay Area, there are some properties that are so dilapidated they can’t sell. Many have been languishing since the foreclosure crisis a decade ago. But instead of letting them just take up space, the city of Richmond is flipping the homes that investors won’t touch.

They’re buying the properties with money from a bond passed in 2015, working with nonprofits to renovate them, and then providing low-interest loans to low-income buyers. Six homes have been completed through this bond-funded program and about 30 more are in the works.

Journalist J.P. Dobrinfilmed one woman’s experience with the program for the local news outlet Richmond Confidential. He spoke with KALW’s housing reporter Liza Veale about this creative approach to keeping low-income people housed in Richmond.

"These abandoned and blighted homes just become a black hole for money. So that's why they were so desperate to do something about these 'zombie properties.'"
Still from JP Dobrin's video of Susan Wiseman

Click the audio player above to listen to the full story. 


Liza got her start in radio with KALW's Audio Academy. Now, she is KALW's econmy reporter and a mentor for in the KALW Audio Academy.