You are here
Home > News > Busted Grow Houses Converted to Habitat for Humanity Homes Under Sacramento Plan

Busted Grow Houses Converted to Habitat for Humanity Homes Under Sacramento Plan

The City of Sacramento and Habitat for Humanity whipped up a plan to kill two birds with one stone—offering people busted with grow houses to donate their house to a worthy cause instead of paying high penalties.

This program, which would allow busted growers to use their property to benefit, may reduce costs, could be a way to save six-digits of dollars in administrative penalties. Habitat for Humanity can accept property from property owners who have been cited for operating illegal cannabis grow facilities. This program is known as Justice for Neighbors or JFN.

KRCA 3, NBC’s affiliate, featured the story. It included two homes that were converted into Habitat for Humanity houses. “This program is a great example of the city thinking outside the box,” City of Sacramento Senior Deputy City Attorney Emilio Camacho said.

The JFN program is run through the Sacramento City Attorney’s Office. JFN was launched in 2006—targeting what they call “major physical and criminal nuisances that degrade the quality of life in the City’s neighborhoods.” Cannabis grow houses are considered one of many types of nuisances that make people say “not in my neighborhood.” This also involves drug trade, human trafficking, and other security hazards.

Cannabis grow homes aren’t as dangerous as meth houses, per se, so there’s no reason to not put a good house to use. Once the house is renovated, an approved family can purchase the property with a fixed-rate 30-year mortgage at zero interest. All of us know the dire state of the housing market.

KRCA 3 reports that two houses have been converted and another home is in the process of being converted. According to city records, the amount of administrative penalties for illegally growing cannabis at this third house was $372,500. The historical value of the house when it was donated last year was $354,500—so in that case, the perpetrators theoretically saved themselves nearly $20,000 in penalties. This sounds like it could be a win-win scenario.

Conversions of houses usually involve demolition. Sometimes, this can even mean the removal of all the furniture. The unpleasant smells of plants are gone in this case.

“Strip it all back down to the studs, and then from there, we rebuild,” Leah Miller, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento, said. “We’re going to redo the siding; we’re going to put in new installation, new electrical, new drywall. Everything in here is going to be brand new.”

“It’s not only the opportunity to create a new affordable home for our community but also helps to alleviate blight in the neighborhood. We’re here in a residential neighborhood, and this home was a nuisance to those people who live here and the families who live here because of the illegal activity that was happening,” Miller said.

KRCA 3 profiled Yong Chang who is expected to be joined by his wife and their four children in the move-in of the house.

It’s taking the situation in its own hands. It’s a problem not only at the city level, but the federal level as well. Particularly in Sacramento, civil asset forfeitures can lead to wasted resources. Over 100 Sacramento homes were seized by U.S. authorities in 2018. In cases where probable cause exists for a crime, the Justice Department has filed civil forfeiture actions against these properties.

It’s the opposite chain of events from what’s happening less than 200 miles away in Coalinga, where a former prison site is being converted into a commercial (legal) grow house.