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Habitat For Humanity Virginia Takes New Tack

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With the nation facing a serious shortage of affordable housing, Habitat for Humanity is stepping up its game with a new approach being tested in the Commonwealth.

In some parts of this country, land is cheap, but that's not the case everywhere. Take Charlottesville, the home of the University of Virginia. In 2000 in the city, you could get a buildable lot for about $10 - $13,000. By 2004 it was $80,000. 

So Dan Rosenswieg, Executive Director of Habitat in Charlottesville, says the group bought a small trailer park near the historic home of Thomas Jefferson, and announced plans to replace 23 aging mobile homes with 66 apartments and single-family houses. For the price they now pay to rent a trailer pad -- $240 a month -- current residents like Marian Dudley will get a brand new apartment.

 "I'm going to have a gorgeous view from up there at Monticello," says Dudley.

This is likely one of the first trailer park transformations in the country that, instead of displacing residents, welcomes them as the core of the new community.

The $12.5 million subdivision is going up in phases, so no one has to move out before a new home is ready. Rosensweig has offered to share blueprints and expertise with other Habitat affiliates and has already acquired the next property, a hundred acre trailer park with nearly 350 mobile homes.


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