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Redmond leaders tour transformed 'drug houses'

By Alicia Inns
Published On: Aug 27 2013 09:04:27 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 27 2013 09:07:01 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Alicia Inns reports on program that turns homes seized in drug busts into new homes for low-income residents.

REDMOND, Ore. -

Rafael and Marisol Escobar never thought they'd become homeowners.

But after living in a Housing Works Tudor-style home the past two years, they've saved enough money to put in a down payment on a house.

"Slowly we moved in -- and look where we are at now," Rafael said.

Housing Works is a local organization helping people work toward financial stability and homeownership, giving people the foundation they need to help them keep a budget and build good credit.  

"We learned quite a bit about saving money just by using coupons, which is a good thing," Rafael said.

Just down the road in Redmond, two other houses are in the process of being transformed by Housing Works and the Heart of Oregon Corps YouthBuild, an organization teaching young adults construction skills while they work toward their GED.

The homes have quite the rags-to-riches story after being seized by the Redmond Police Department two years ago.

"We received an anonymous tip about suspicious activity going on in this home and through a thorough investigation led to two search warrants at two different homes in Redmond, and inside we found illegal marijuana grows," said Police Chief Dave Tarbet.

The walls and ceilings inside the seized homes punched out to install ventilation pipes for the marijuana.

YouthBuild went in and remodeled the home, and a new family now lives there as they save money and work their way towards homeownership.

The other seized home is in the process of being remodeled and should be done by Thanksgiving.

"I think it really impacts this neighborhood to take this house that's dilapidated and run down and had a drug-growing operation in it and now it's a wonderful house and now they have a tenant that's in there for training for home-ownership," said Kelly Fisher, client services manager with Housing Works.

With an 8-month-old baby girl, the Escobars are ready to raise their daughter in a new home, as homeowners.

"It's going to feel good to call your home, your home. It feels good to know your money is actually going somewhere -- it's good," Rafael said.

The Escobars are looking to close on their own home, and move in next month.

For more information, visit housing-works.org or heartoforegon.org

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