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For the most part, affordable housing is an oxymoron in Marin County, where the median home price brushes up against $1 million. Nevertheless, defying reality, Northbay Family Homes has announced that a lottery for the final affordable homes designed for "moderate income earners" in Novato's Hamilton Redevelopment Project will open on July 9. Before you cross yourself off the list for making too much money, understand that in tony Marin "moderate income" is defined as individuals earning a maximum of $79,800 a year or families earning a maximum of $114,000. Prices for the houses in the lottery range from $338,000 to $415,000. "A lot of people think they make too much to qualify, but they don't," says Northbay project manager Laura Levine, who adds that the income figures are based on a state formula that defines moderate income as being 120 percent above median income. The lottery will take place Aug. 9. The project, started in 1998, features a total of 1,171 homes, many of which were made for low- and moderate-income earners as well as seniors. "This entire project has doubled Marin County's affordable-housing stock," says Levine.
Graduating from high school used to be mostly a matter of hitting the books and making the grade. But lately in the North Bay, where during the past year, a dozen teens have been killed in car crashes involving excessive speed and/or alcohol, it's become a matter of life and death. The deaths have come in spite of outreach programs such as Every 15 Minutes, which takes its names from the fact that, nationwide, someone is killed in an alcohol-related collision every 15 minutes. Using realistic makeup to duplicate fatal injuries on classmates, who are spirited away by the Grim Reaper himself, such events dramatically illustrate the impact of drunk driving. Yet the carnage continues. "What are we not saying to these teenagers, and even the adults?" asks a frustrated Chris Jacobs, public relations officer for the California Highway Patrol's North Bay region. "What part of drunk driving have we not conveyed is deadly?" Particularly exasperating to Jacobs was the case of one local high school's senior class president, who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence last week after losing control of her car the night before graduation. "What part of all the drinking and driving programs didn't she get?"
--R. V. Scheide
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From the June 22-28, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.
© 2005 Metro Publishing Inc.