Eugene Griffin is a 56-year-old Washington, D.C. resident with a history of drug and alcohol abuse, homeless up until four years ago. He eventually moved into transitional housing, where he met a woman who told him about Manna, a local nonprofit that takes abandoned or vacant properties, refurbishes them, and sells them at affordable prices to low-income individuals.

Griffin wanted to buy a home, although as he put it, “It’s not that I have ‘good credit’ or ‘bad credit’ … I don’t have...

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