Monday, December 19, 2011
Foreclosure Counseling Nearly Doubles Chances of Mortgage Modification, Reduces Likelihood of Re-default by at Least 67 Percent
CEO, NeighborWorks America
I’m excited to share with you today the results of a new report prepared by the Urban Institute on the consumer benefits of the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) Program.
The report shows that the NFMC program works incredibly well for homeowners and communities. Homeowners who received NFMC counseling were nearly twice as likely to obtain a mortgage modification as those who did not seek assistance from an NFMC foreclosure prevention counselor. Homeowners counseled through NFMC were at least 67 percent more likely to remain current on their mortgage nine months after receiving one.
The report also shows that homeowners received, on average, a mortgage modification that lowered their payment by $176 more per month, than homeowners who didn’t work with an NFMC counselor – a savings of close to $2,100 a year.This reduction in household expenses can free up funds for paying off debt, saving for college and meeting other needs.
The NFMC program also has benefits for mortgage servicers and investors. By significantly reducing the chance that a homeowner re-defaults after a mortgage modification, servicers are saved added expense. This tells us that increased servicer investment in partnerships with nonprofit counselors is a win for everyone.
If you’d like to learn more, I was recently interviewed about this report. See YouTube video.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
|Former Senator Bond receives Lifetime Achievement Award. |
(L-R): Kit Bond; Mark Stalsworth, executive director,
Kansas City NHS; John A. Wood, assistant city manager
for neighborhoods, City of Kansas City;
Eileen Fitzgerald, CEO, NeighborWorks America
Presenting the award to Senator Bond, NeighborWorks America CEO Eileen Fitzgerald noted that he is known for a long string of accomplishments on behalf of families and accessible housing, beginning with his service as Missouri’s youngest governor and continuing through four terms as one of Missouri’s U.S. Senators.
“Senator Bond has been a leader for families and housing,” said Fitzgerald. “He continues that leadership as a co-chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission. We are excited and sincerely honored to recognize Senator Bond for all the work that he’s done and continues to do for housing in the United States.”
Learn more about Senator Kit Bond's work in support of affordable housing.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
|The Rhodes family was surprised to learn they will |
get a new home from ABC's Extreme Makeover.
WATCH THE VIDEO.
Tune in to ABC on Friday, Dec. 16 at
8pm, EST to see the transformation!
The city doesn’t have to worry about one of those homes, however. It has been rebuilt by the cast and crew of Extreme Makeover. The process started two years ago, when Homeport’s volunteers and staff went door to door talking to families and helping those interested in completing the lengthy application process. Homeport helped the families create videos to accompany their applications and helped shoot additional supporting video discussing the neglected neighborhood's history.
In August, the cast of Extreme Makeover knocked on the door of James and Jackie Rhodes and surprised them with the news that they had been chosen to receive a brand new home because of their family’s love and commitment to each other. The Dispatch reports that the Rhodes had taken in their daughter Mikia and her four children, after Mikia had emergency surgery to cure a brain tumor. She slept with her children — ages 7, 9, 15 and 18 — in the main sitting room on the first floor, while her parents occupied the only bedroom upstairs. The home was not only cramped, it was also in desperate need of repair.
Monday, December 5, 2011
|L-R: Peter Meyer, president, New York Market, TD Bank; Eileen Fitzgerald; Marc Jahr; George McCarthy; Deborah Boatright; Dennis Lagueux, SVP, Community Development, TD Bank|
Both men are widely admired for their integrity, intelligence and impact on communities. Marc Jahr has helped to create over 100,000 units of affordable housing in New York City over the course of his career, and is an icon in the field. George McCarthy has been an invaluable partner to NeighborWorks for over a decade, in our Homeownership Campaign, Success Measures initiative, community stabilization work and support for Manufactured housing and resident-owned communities.
The sixth annual reception, sponsored by TD Bank and held at the Westin New York at Times Square, was the first under the new regional model. The Northeast Region spans 11 states from Maine to Maryland, as well as Washington DC, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. “Our regional configuration allows us to have a broader conversation with our partners and funders, as we now mirror many of their footprints. And we have a new depth of experience to bring to the table with our state and local government partners as well,” noted Boatright.
“The incredible turnout for today’s event is a testimony to the value of our network, and the work of the Northeast Region,” noted Fitzgerald. TD Bank will also be the sponsor of a spring reception planned for Boston.
The reception’s theme, “A Community United” was evoked by both honorees in their remarks to characterize not only the cross-section of people in the audience, but the strength of their partnerships and collaborations to improve opportunities for a better life in communities throughout the area.
More photos can be seen on NeighborWorks’ Flickr site.
Friday, December 2, 2011
The joint task force issued this consumer fraud alert, which provides vulnerable homeowners with tips for avoiding mortgage modification scams. In addition to providing education programs to protect struggling homeowners, the federal agencies will work together and with law enforcement partners to investigate and shut down these scams, and will ensure the perpetrators pay for their crimes.
This collaborative federal effort strengthens the work we have been doing for the past two years through the Loan Modification Scam Alert Campaign to help vulnerable homeowners recognize the signs of scam and to learn where to turn for legitimate help.
Scam artists hide behind many titles — Loan Modification Consultant, Forensic Foreclosure Consultant, Short Sale Negotiator, to name a few — and they sometimes falsely represent themselves as government programs. Even trusted professionals like real estate agents or attorneys have been involved in loan modification scams.
It can be hard to spot a scammer, so the best way for homeowners to protect themselves is to know the signs. And the best way to shut down these scams is to report them. Legitimate help is FREE and available from a HUD-approved housing counselor.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
$3 Million from Wells Fargo Housing Foundation Will Bolster NeighborWorks Housing Education and Counseling
Wells Fargo’s grant to NeighborWorks America supports training and scholarships for homeownership educators and housing counselors delivered through NeighborWorks Training Institutes; local place-based training opportunities around the U.S., and increasingly through NeighborWorks led e-learning courses. The grant period runs from October 1, 2011 through March 31, 2013.
“This grant from Wells Fargo is important to our ability to provide the latest information and training to housing counselors and other community development professionals,” said Eileen Fitzgerald, CEO of NeighborWorks America. “Importantly, this grant from Wells Fargo underlines its commitment to narrowing the gap for access to quality homeownership education, training and counseling.”
“Financial challenges are building for housing counseling services at a time when consumer demand for their help is growing,” said Kimberly Jackson, executive director of the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation. “Wells Fargo believes homeownership education and counseling training and scholarships provided by NeighborWorks are critical to helping Americans as they face financial struggles that extend beyond their home payments and the country continues to work through the impacts of a challenging economy.”
Using various delivery methods to reach housing counseling practitioners, NeighborWorks America awards more than 12,000 training certificates each year in homeownership and community lending, and the demand for skilled professionals in homeownership education and counseling is not expected to decline.
Thank you to Wells Fargo for strengthening our training reach! Learn more here.
Monday, November 21, 2011
NeighborWorks Anchorage is celebrating it's 30th anniversary and has used multimedia tools to show us the warmth of the human spirit, and remind us what a joy it is to work in community development.
View “Around the Kitchen Table”
Having trouble seeing the video plug in above?
Please view it here: http://vimeo.com/29818988
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
|Sarah McGraw Greenberg, director |
of Development, NeighborWorks America
Join us in congratulating Sarah McGraw Greenberg, who NeighborWorks America appointed as director of the Development Division. As director, Greenberg provides strategic leadership to NeighborWorks America's partnership and resource development efforts in support of NeighborWorks' mission to create opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities. Greenberg reports to NeighborWorks America CEO Eileen Fitzgerald.
Prior to being named director of the Development division, Greenberg was senior manager for Community Stabilization at NeighborWorks. She led NeighborWorks America’s strategy to mitigate the impact of foreclosed properties on communities by creating and managing NeighborWorks America’s Stable Communities Initiative, and managing the corporation’s role in the creation of the National Community Stabilization Trust, a partnership with five other national housing intermediaries.
Learn more about Greenberg here.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
NeighborWorks America Assists New Orleans in Launching a $52 Million First Time Homebuyer Initiative
NeighborWorks America’s Southern District is providing technical assistance to the City of New Orleans’ Office of Community Development to execute a $52.3 million soft second mortgage homebuyer assistance initiative that will provide hundreds of New Orleans families an opportunity to become homeowners. The initiative is designed to strategically promote homeownership opportunities for low and moderate income residents and families who are buying their first homes.
“We know that promoting and incentivizing homeownership is key in revitalizing our neighborhoods across the city,” said Mayor Landrieu at a press conference announcing the program on October 27. “This program will put Hurricane Katrina recovery dollars to use for their intended purpose – helping the citizens of New Orleans rebuild their lives and neighborhoods post-Katrina. It will also reduce blight and stimulate the local economy.”
Mayor Landrieu said that this has truly been a partnership between the public, private, faith-based and nonprofit sectors. He thanked all partners, including NeighborWorks America, for their role in getting the program up and running.
Southern District Senior Program Coordinator Donna Tally, under the leadership of District Director Donald Phoenix, created a partnership with City of New Orleans’s Director of Housing Policy Brian Lawlor to provide technical assistance for this initiative. NeighborWorks worked with the city’s staff to design, develop, and deliver the program, providing technical assistance to develop the underwriting criteria, the mechanics required to run the program, and the training for local lender partners.
“This is a great example of the power of partnership,” said Tally. “Mayor Mitch Landrieu put the right people together and things started happening. NeighborWorks America is proud to be part of the team that designed and delivered this program because our investment will pay exponential dividends for families and communities across the Crescent City.”
“The investment of these funds will help neighborhoods in New Orleans reach a tipping point in sustainability as the recovery continues,” said Phoenix. “NeighborWorks America’s Southern District is honored to play an instrumental role in the delivery of this program, the largest of its kind in the City of New Orleans. We look forward to an ongoing partnership with Mayor Landrieu and the City of New Orleans.”
The press conference announcing the soft second homebuyer initiative is available for viewing on YouTube.
Careers in Community Development
Can't see the video plug in above? View it here: http://youtu.be/WkDR9X8M-vc
The Beginning of My Journey in Community Development
By Nicholas Salerno
I spent six months in Granada, Spain where I studied the Spanish culture and language. The original purpose of this experience was to learn the language and to minor in Spanish (for my resume). It ended up doing that but it also helped me learn more about myself. I came back to the States with new ideas and perspectives about myself and my own culture through new eyes. I planned on taking these new skills and knowledge and focus on issues we had domestically rather than continue my efforts internationally.
Through my new lenses, I noticed the racial tension that was in my community on the Southside of Chicago. I saw this as opportunity for myself to start a dialogue with residents at local nonprofits, food shelters and other organizations in the Chicagoland area to understand what is really happening. After gaining a better perspective, I realized that I did not have the tools needed in order to solve any problems or deepen the dialogue to a point where action could be put in place, so I decided to go back to school.
I’m currently completing my masters in Sustainable Development with a focus on community development and social action while working at NeighborWorks America. It is the first time in my life I feel passionate because the work I do is meaningful. I want to live in a community that is happy, safe and healthy.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
The president announced the plan in Las Vegas, Nevada, one of the states hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis and where the unemployment rate is 13.4 percent, the highest in the nation. Federal officials hope that reducing monthly payments would free up cash for consumers to spend elsewhere, giving not a boost not only to the housing market, but to the overall economy as well.
In Kansas, NeighborWorks America’s Midwest regional director John Santner welcomed the potential boost for homeowners and housing. “Anything we can do to help solve the housing crisis would be a good thing,” he told the Kansas City Star.
HARP was originally unveiled in 2009, but it has fallen far short of expectations. It was designed to help up to 5 million people, but so far has reached only about 822,000. This new version would eliminate the previous limits which allowed only borrowers whose mortgages were no greater than 125 percent of the value of their homes to qualify. And it would remove certain fees and relieve banks of certain risks as part of the changes.
The program is not expected to increase costs to taxpayers. The Federal Housing Finance Agency is expected to publish final details in mid-November and borrowers can begin to enroll during the first quarter of next year.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Creating an Opportunity from All of the Empty Houses? An Affordable Housing Response by NeighborWorks America to the REO Crisis
by Thomas P. Deyo,
Deputy Director, Green, National Real Estate
and Community Stabilization
|This home was once foreclosed and abandoned. |
NHS of New Haven rehabilitated it and sold it.
The time is now to respond with a plan that takes the available resource that is impacting community strength and turn it into a community opportunity. In simple measure the plan calls for nonprofits to acquire, rehab, and maintain properties, rent at affordable rents to low- and moderate-income community residents, and when markets return sell at affordable prices to these same households and return to government a share of the proceeds to compensate for lower acquisition costs. (See NeighborWorks America comment letter.) This is not easy or simple but requires commitment and recognition that to make an opportunity requires taking some risk.
Monday, October 17, 2011
|By Michelle A. Winters,|
Senior Manager, Green Strategies
The nation’s largest professional association of real estate appraisers released a form recently that is intended to help appraisers identify and describe a home’s green features, from solar panels to energy-saving appliances. The Appraisal Institute says the Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum is the first of its kind. It will help the industry standardize the way residential energy-efficient features are analyzed and reported.
The form was issued as an optional addendum to Fannie Mae Form 1004, the appraisal industry’s most widely used form for mortgage lending purposes. Used by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration, Form 1004 is completed by appraisers to uphold safe and sound lending. Currently, the value of a home’s green features is rarely part of the equation.
The Appraisal Institute encourages use of the form not just by appraisers, but also by lenders, homebuilders, real estate agents and the homeowners themselves. Lenders can request that the form is included with Form 1004 or provide it to homeowners to fill out and give to appraisers. Real estate agents can use the data to help populate the multiple listing service (MLS). Key stakeholders in the homebuying process can all take advantage of this new tool.
NeighborWorks America has done work with the Appraisal Institute in the past. In 2010, NeighborWorks partnered with the Appraisal Institute, the US Green Building Council and others to help the National Association of Realtors® develop a Green MLS Toolkit. The tool kit was created to help Realtors® add green fields to their local multiple listing service, so that it is easier to market and identify green homes for homebuyers and sellers.
The Appraisal Institute’s latest tool can be downloaded here.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
New York Housing Counselors and Partners Strategize Next Stage of Helping Homeowners Facing Foreclosure
|Darryl Towns, Commissioner/CEO|
NYS Homes and Community Renewal
|Housing counselors weigh in on major topics that will serve as a starting point|
for a statewide foreclosure prevention plan.
Friday, October 7, 2011
|Rep. Nancy Pelosi presents Chin with his American Flag|
About 800 people attended a gala celebration of Chinatown CDC's 34th anniversary and farewell tribute to Chin, including the honorable Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and special guests such as San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Assemblyman Mark Leno. Representative Pelosi paid tribute to Chin by presenting him with a United States flag flown in Washington, D.C. in his name.
Chin’s leadership at Chinatown CDC has had a huge impact on San Francisco residents and neighborhoods. The organization assists more than 4,000 residents and manages 2,300 units of housing in the greater San Francisco area.
|San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee honors Gordon Chin|
community organizations because of its leadership in affordable housing issues and city matters in the past 30 years, Doug Shoemaker, director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Robert Burns, director of Field Operations for NeighborWorks America added, “Gordon's work on behalf of low income and working class residents of San Francisco embodied the core values of NeighborWorks and sets an example for all of us to follow within our own communities.”
Chin spoke of his 34 years at Chinatown CDC as the best and thanked his wife Dorothy for all her support. He plans to write, consult and focus on developing The Gordon Chin Leadership Fund, which will expand community leadership programs and enhance Chinatown CDC's ability to respond quickly to important community issues.
“It’s always been about building bridges between people, partnerships within the community and between communities,” Chin said.
"A heartfelt thanks to all of you who joined us for the evening celebration," said Fei Tsen, chair of Chinatown CDC board of directors. "It was a truly joyful event and so great to have the opportunity to speak with so many of you. On behalf of the children and families who benefit from your help, a very special mahalo from the heart."
On October 1, Norman Fong became Chinatown CDC's executive director. He has been with the nonprofit since 1990. Fong is committed to building upon Chin's legacy and model of leadership to ensure Chinatown CDC continues pave the way in the community development field.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Housing Partnership Network and Citi Foundation Launch Fund to Advance Innovations in Neighborhood Stabilization
HAP Housing will advance strategic neighborhood approaches for the stabilization of three low-income Springfield, Massachusetts neighborhoods hit hard first by the effects of foreclosures and abandonment, and then by a devastating F-3 tornado on June 1, 2011.
Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago will implement a new model for advising homeowners through a network of Resolution Specialists who will work in partnership with the homeowner, lender, and servicer to modify mortgages through the new national Mortgage Resolution Fund effort.
Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City, Inc. (NHSNYC) in collaboration with the New York Mortgage Coalition (NYMC) and the Long Island Housing Partnership (LIDP) will create a foreclosure intervention program for existing homeowners who may qualify to own or rent their homes if prices were reset to current market valuations.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Senior Manager for Community Stabilization
This post originally appeared in Stabilize, the blog of NeighborWorks America's Stable Communities Initiative.
President Obama has proposed the American Jobs Act, containing a variety of incentives and programs aimed at getting more Americans back to work.
One of the components of the bill is Project Rebuild, described as the “next generation” of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). The bill proposes a $15 billion budget (more than double the total allocations of NSP Rounds 1, 2 and 3 combined) — two-thirds of which would be allocated directly to participating jurisdictions (as in NSP Rounds 1 and 3), and the other third would be allocated through a competitive process (as in NSP Round 2).
The overall American Jobs Act and Project Rebuild are drawing criticism, and their likelihood of passage is uncertain. Project Rebuild is intended to connect Americans looking for work, with the work needed to repair and repurpose residential and commercial properties. Like NSP, Project Rebuild would be focused on acquiring, rehabilitating and re-occupying foreclosed residential property, but there are several modifications:
- It broadens eligible uses to allow commercial projects and other job creating activities, capped at 30 percent.
Many regions with concentrated home foreclosures also have concentrations of vacant commercial structures that weigh on property values and make it less likely that new businesses will come into the community and invest new capital. Project Rebuild will tackle this problem directly by allowing grantees to rebuild and repurpose distressed commercial real estate.
- Up to 10 percent of formula grants may be used for establishing and operating a jobs program to maintain eligible properties in target neighborhoods.
Project Rebuild will enable grantees to use funds to establish property maintenance programs to create jobs and mitigate “visible scars” left by vacant/abandoned properties.
- Each state will receive a minimum of $20 million of the $10 billion in formula funds.
- Beyond this baseline, funds will be targeted to areas with home foreclosures, homes in default or delinquency, and other factors determined by HUD, such as unemployment, commercial foreclosures, and other economic conditions.
Other features of Project Rebuild include:
- Project Rebuild will provide funding to purchase, rehabilitate, and/or redevelop foreclosed, abandoned, demolished, or vacant properties. Funding can also establish and operate land banks or demolish blighted structures.
- Project Rebuild will support an estimated 191,000 jobs and treat at least 150,000 properties across all 50 states.
- HUD will allocate formula funds within 30 days of Congressional enactment of Project Rebuild, complete the competition, and obligate all funds within 150 days of enactment. Grantees will have three years to spend 100 percent of funding. HUD will establish further benchmarks for expenditures at one year and two years.
- Formula funding will go directly to states and entitlement communities across the country. Competitive funds will be available to states, local governments, for-profit entities, non-profit entities and consortia of these entities.
- Strict standards of oversight will ensure good stewardship of these funds. HUD will strengthen existing accountability procedures by requiring that grantees have an internal auditor to continually monitor grantee performance to prevent fraud or abuse. Grantees will be required to provide quarterly progress reports and HUD will recapture funds from underperforming or mismanaged grantees to reallocate those funds to areas with greatest need.
Project Rebuild would leverage the significant investment in capacity building of grantees and their partners in foreclosed property acquisition, rehab and repurposing. By adding much-needed capital to this capacity, Project Rebuild has the potential to not only create jobs, but to enable communities to scale up their impact and achieve the momentum necessary to tip more neighborhoods back to a trend of improvement.
Here are a Fact Sheet and FAQ on Project Rebuild.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
|Children playing at an after school program, sponsored by|
Chelsea Neighborhood Developers in Massachusetts.
National Initiatives and Applied Research
When there is housing instability, the most vulnerable in our society suffer. We recently shed a light on this issue at our symposium on senior housing in Atlanta, and now a recent study has again confirmed what we’ve always known: unstable housing has a significant, negative impact on the health and development of young children.
The study was published by the American Journal of Public Health, and it found that when children are moved multiple times a year or live in households where there is overcrowding, they have a greater risk for poor health (18 percent) than children living in secure households (11 percent). In addition, 22 percent of caregivers in households reporting multiple moves within a single year reported developmental problems in their children, whereas only 14 percent of caregivers in secure households reported similar risks.
These problems are compounded when families are poor and there’s not always food on the table. We’ve all seen the headlines on the growth in poverty in America. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2010, 25.3 percent of children under the age of six lived in poverty in the U.S. When housing insecurity is combined with food insecurity, the risk for poor health, developmental delays and hospitalization are even greater.
This is why the work we do at NeighborWorks America and across the network of 235 organizations is so very important: the health and development of our children depend on it. In 2007 NeighborWorks America released about a report on the benefits of homeownership. We found that children of homeowners are 25 percent more likely to graduate high school, 116 percent more likely to attend college and teenage pregnancy is 20 percent less likely.
Consistent housing also produces higher reading and math scores and lower rates of becoming involved in the juvenile justice system.
NeighborWorks encourages families and individuals searching for safe, affordable and stable housing to find a local housing counseling agency in their area. Providing affordable housing is the first step towards fighting the rise in poverty and homelessness in children. http://www.nw.org/network/nwdata/homeownershipcenter.asp.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
As of June 30, 2011, more than 1,168,062 homeowners in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Territories have received foreclosure counseling as a result of NFMC Program funding.
In December 2010, an independent analysis of the NFMC Program showed that NFMC Program clients in foreclosure were 1.7 times more likely to cure a foreclosure and potentially avoid losing a home, than homeowners who did not receive foreclosure counseling. In addition, NFMC clients who received loan modifications reduced their monthly mortgage payments on average by $267 more per month than they would have without NFMC counseling. This represents an annual savings of over $3,200 per homeowner.
The sixth Congressional Report also found that the largest share of foreclosure mitigation counseling provided by the NFMC Program has gone to assist struggling homeowners in the states hardest hit by delinquencies and foreclosures, such as California and Florida. Minority and low-income homeowners and neighborhoods, which have been disproportionately impacted by the foreclosure crisis, are well-served by the NFMC Program: 31 percent of NFMC Program clients were identified as racial minority homeowners, 20 percent were of Hispanic origin, and 66 percent were classified as low- income.
Homeowners who would like to receive foreclosure counseling can visit http://www.findaforeclosurecounselor.org/ to find a NFMC Program-funded counseling organization in their community.For more information about the NFMC Program, visit www.nw.org/nfmc.
Friday, September 9, 2011
More than 1 million people are expected to participate in the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance, an effort originally launched in 2002 by family members who lost loved ones in the attacks and support groups, led by the nonprofit organization MyGoodDeed. In 2009, Congress designated September 11 as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with supporting this effort across the country.
At NeighborWorks America we firmly believe in the value and impact of volunteer engagement. In 2010, our Community Building and Organizing Programs generated 322,000 volunteer hours, building stronger, vibrant and more connected communities. We know the difference ordinary people working together can make in the lives of individuals and entire communities. That is why we are encouraging you to participate in this year’s National Day of Service and Remembrance.
There are so many ways to get involved, ranging from performing a simple act of kindness to helping with home repairs, neighborhood cleanups and disaster relief activities. Visit serve.gov to learn how you can help, or check your local NeighborWorks organization to see if any volunteer events are planned.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
How a VISTA Kicked Off an After-School Program, and Took it Up a Notch with Volunteers from Boston U. and Support from TDBank
Chelsea Neighborhood Developers.
While talking with the residents of Spencer Green, in Chelsea, Massachusetts, AmeriCorps Vista volunteer Josh Strazanac made a discovery: there wasn't enough for the Spencer Green kids to do to keep busy.
Working with Chelsea Neighborhood Developers' (CND) Community Engagement Team, Strazanac created a three-day a week program for kids ages three to 12 so they would have a positive place to spend a few hours after school. Volunteers from Boston University's Community Service Center worked with kids for an hour on their homework and for the second hour, the kids had time for some fun. They play board games, socialize with friends and make arts and crafts.
"The after school program was a way for the community room to be used in a healthy, constructive way," Strazanac said.
After a few successful months CND partnered with TDBank to start a financial literacy program for the kids in the after school program. Also Chelsea Public Schools offered their gym and equipment for the children to use when it was cold out and the BNY Mellon Charitable Giving Program provided free passes for the Boston Children's Museum and New England Aquarium.
This program, which started with just 12 children in February when it launched, now has 24 students registered. Many of the nine volunteers from Boston University have been with the program since its launch. The model has been so successful that it is being used to start a program at Spencer Row, another CND affordable housing community.
"Pursuing a healthy environment with long term stability in neighbor relationships is the goal," Strazanac explains.
The time Strazanac put into the after school program has had a lasting impact on all the families who rely on after school care. Spencer Green has seen dramatically reduced damage to property, and the residents are happy with its result.
The Community Engagement Team encourages working with other organizations to improve communities. By forming the relationship between CND, Boston University, TD Bank and Chelsea Public Schools, it has strengthened the Chelsea community.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan Hails Property Owned by Hawaii NeighborWorks Affiliate as Model for the Nation
|(l-r): HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan; Hawaii Governor |
Neil Abercrombie; Hawaii Mutual Housing Association
Executive Director Dave Nakamura; Mutual Housing
Board President Dee Dee Letts; Palolo Homes Resident
Services Manager Dahlia Asuega
With a $1.7 million grant from HUD and additional funding from public and private sector partners, Palolo Valley Homes was renovated with new services and amenities such as a state-of-the-art learning center, children’s play area and a health examination room. With federal funds in short supply, partnerships like the one put to use in Palolo are being looked at for housing across the nation.
“We have a comprehensive housing policy in Hawaii that includes repairing and building public housing units where people feel safe in their community and proud of their home,” Governor Abercrombie said.
“I will go back to Washington D.C. inspired by your example,” Secretary Donovan said during his visit to Palolo Valley Homes. “We want innovative techniques in bringing nonprofit and private partners to the table to make a community truly a home to its residents.”
The governor and housing secretary also visited Hawaii Public Housing Authority’s Mayor Wright housing, where partnerships are being looked at to make much-needed renovations.
Learn more about the Secretary’s visit.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Al Yoon writes:
“The capacity of banks to handle refinancings is a key issue for investors in mortgage-backed securities, whose returns are now among the most sensitive-ever to refinancings. The higher the hurdles for consumers, the better for investors who want to avoid the early repayment of principal at face value that produces a loss to bonds priced well-above that level.”
Just last week NeighborWorks America pointed out three additional obstacles that consumers who are interested in refinancing their mortgages are currently facing: a much higher credit score is needed to qualify, lost home equity in the foreclosure crisis, and cash needed for closing costs.
If you are interested in refinancing and would like to find out whether you could qualify, visit any of the more than 100 NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Centers located across the country.
Friday, August 19, 2011
NeighborWorks America has focused on asset management since we began providing national services to our network’s providers of rentals. As a result, over 175 NeighborWorks organizations successfully provide affordable homes that 80,000 families and seniors are proud to call home. These apartments and rental houses are safe, great looking, energy-efficient and well managed. Many of our affiliates also offer highly effective services — to more than 100,000 residents — to help them succeed. Children succeed in school and parents succeed in saving, improving credit scores, and managing their budgets.
|Written by Frances Ferguson, Senior Manager |
National Real Estate Programs
NeighborWorks America continues to look at the best ways of supporting our network and other nonprofit providers of rental housing, particularly as federal, state and local budget cuts of program services put strains on the affordable housing industry.
At the next symposium on December 14 in Washington, DC, NeighborWorks will explore how nonprofits of various sizes and market areas are adjusting and innovating to sustain and grow the numbers of people they can serve through affordable rental housing. This symposium, Building on Strength: Invigorating Business Models for Affordable Rental Housing in the New Era, will focus on practical solutions to the capital gaps in affordable rental housing development by highlighting examples of organizations developing new partnerships, new types of real estate transactions, and new business models.
Between 2004 and 2010, the number of renters in the U.S. grew by nearly 4 million. Success at delivering much-needed affordable rental housing in the future may mean that nonprofit housing providers will have to look at new business strategies for long-term sustainability. To join the discussion about this very timely and important issue, register for the symposium at www.nw.org/training.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
- It is more difficult to qualify for a mortgage these days than ever before. Prior to the housing bust, a credit score of 650 made a homeowner easily eligible for the lowest rate available. Today, a homeowner needs a much higher credit score — often above 700 — to obtain the lowest rate possible, and make refinancing a net positive.
"With today's risk-based pricing for mortgages, it's not unusual for a homeowner who wants to refinance to hear about the record low rates in the market, and is surprised to learn that he doesn't qualify for that rate. The risk-based rate could be a percentage point or higher, sometimes making a refinance not worth it at all," said Robert Tourigny, executive director of NeighborWorks Greater Manchester, and the local NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center.
- Once a homeowner has decided that she wants to pursue a refinance, the reality of just how much home equity was lost in the housing crisis becomes plain. Without 20 percent equity, the best mortgage rates are out of reach. Ten percent gets a seat at the refi table, but 28 percent of homeowners with a mortgage are “underwater,” or owe more than their homes are worth, according to research firm Zillow.
“Even those homeowners who have a sufficient credit score — millions of them — are just unable to participate because they don’t the home equity to qualify for a refinance mortgage,” said Rodriguez.
- A homeowner who can't bring closing costs to the table— typically at least one percent of the refi loan amount— also can't refinance into a lower mortgage payment, and strengthen their household budgets. Household income is still not robust, and while savings rates have increased since the recession began, not many homeowners have the thousands of dollars in cash required to pay for closing costs.
“The bottom line is that although mortgage rates haven't seen levels like this in decades, forces beyond the interest rate will likely hold back any significant refinance activity — the kind that we would expect to see when mortgage rates dropped to these levels,” said Rodriguez.
Homeowners who are considering taking the first step to refinance their mortgage are encouraged to see a homeownership advisor from one of the more than 100 NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Centers located around the country.
A local NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center can be found at www.nw.org/homeownership.
Monday, August 15, 2011
"As a result of the aging of the oldest baby boomers (born 1946 to 1955), this decade (2011-2020) will witness a huge increase in the number of age 65-74 persons below the poverty level,” predicted opening speaker Stephen M. Golant, a professor at the University of Florida and an expert in the field of aging. “This will produce a large latent demand for public programs that offer these younger seniors affordable rental accommodations and assistance in maintaining their own homes."
Other speakers and panelists underscored how the current foreclosure crisis and economic recession have created even more pressing challenges for lower-income seniors.
Our Twitter Wrapup captured some of the more pointed comments from the symposium from the perspective of some of the participants.
Our photos from the symposium contest take you right into the neighborhoods and homes of seniors who personify what aging gracefully in community is all about.
You can also download resources from the symposium on topics such as:
- Successful programs that make homes for seniors safer, more affordable and an asset to the community
- Effectively engaging senior residents on boards of directors, and in neighborhood associations, community projects and other volunteer efforts
- Available resources for effective rehabilitation, retrofitting and weatherization
- Housing counseling services for seniors, including the benefits and risks of home equity conversion mortgages (HECMs)/reverse mortgages, and how to offer these products and/or counseling to your clients
- Partnering with health and social service providers to ensure your seniors are receiving the care they need to be productive members of your community
- The design and benefits of multi-generational housing
- Identifying and accessing available resources for your senior programs
- Successful models of affordable housing for seniors