MARIN COUNTY - The Marin Community Foundation will fund $10 million in affordable housing projects over the next five years, it was announced today.

The initiative developed with local affordable housing developers will benefit projects for low-income families, seniors and other individuals in Marin. The project includes zoning-change advocacy, new rental unit construction and conversions of foreclosed homes into affordable housing. The effort will also specifically target agricultural workers, according to the release.

"Despite lowered property values caused by the economic downturn, Marin continues to be one of the most expensive places to live in the country," said foundation President Thomas Peters.

"We want to help make it possible for more residents to be affordably housed and to reduce the negative environmental effects of the current pattern of 'forced' commutes."

Habitat for Humanity, the Greenbelt Alliance, the Non-profit Housing Association of Northern California and Northbay Family Homes will be among the partners working on the project.

The foundation hopes to renovate some foreclosed homes with energy-efficient upgrades to provide some housing, and plans to build a 60-unit senior residence are already in the works. The group has also designated a portion of the donation to provide emergency funding for medial expenses, car repairs and other services for families in danger of slipping into homelessness.

The Marin Foundation will spend about $2 million in the first year of the plan. In its 21-year history, the organization has donated more than $800 million in the community, and it has assets of about $1 billion, distributing about $60 million a year.