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Housing Charity Under Fire

The blue house on McRae Court in this small Virginia town, was supposed to be a chance for a low income family to upgrade their lives.

The house had been built by the local chapter of Habitat For Humanity, the well-known international Christian housing ministry.

From six applicants, the group chose Donald Dannemiller, a house painter with a wife and five children. They moved in two years ago.

When word spread that Dannemiller had done prison time 20 years ago for murdering his 13-year old stepsister, the new neighbors tried and failed to derail the sale.

When Dannemiller was arrested last month for allegedly abducting a 12-year old girl and shooting her with a pellet gun, angry neighbors blamed Habitat for allowing a dangerous criminal into their previously safe world.

Neighbor Zola Farrell said she was "very disturbed" - not so much with the family, but with Habitat.

"They lied to us from the beginning," Farrell told CBS News Correspondent Eric Engberg.

Habitat, a widely respected non-profit group, has attracted the support of former President Jimmy Carter, House Speaker Newt Gingrich and other political leaders. The organization has built 60,000 new homes in 58 countries without having such a serious problem with an owner before.

The group has a policy of not making background criminal checks on buyers.
The Rev. Bill Higgins, who is a spokesman for the Habitat group that built the Dumfries house, says there's another reason for not conducting checks.

"We're in the business of trying to give people second chances," Higgins said. "By delving into all details of a person's background years ago, we take away the option for giving a person oftentimes that second chance."

Jailed while the abduction case against him moves to the courts, Dannemiller has turned the house back over to Habitat, which is looking for a new owner.

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