Monday, December 19, 2011

Foreclosure Counseling Nearly Doubles Chances of Mortgage Modification, Reduces Likelihood of Re-default by at Least 67 Percent


By Eileen Fitzgerald,
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 improved long-term sustainability of the borrower is led largely by the financial counseling that is a part of foreclosure prevention, not by the lower mortgage payment obtained. The personalized work nonprofit housing counselors do to help homeowners improve their overall financial situation had the greatest effect on a homeowner not falling behind again on their mortgages in the future.

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

NeighborWorks America Honors Senator Kit Bond with Lifetime Achievement Award


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 
NeighborWorks America, as part of its NeighborWorks Training Institute in Washington, DC this week, honored Former Senator Christopher S. “Kit” Bond with a lifetime achievement award for his more than 40 years of support to America’s families.
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

NeighborWorks Member Homeport Brings ABC’s 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' to Ohio


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!
 
NeighborWorks member Homeport aka Columbus Housing Partnership assisted the ABC network program Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to bring attention to the Rhodes family and the forgotten Ohio neighborhood called American Addition, where they lived.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the neighborhood has been singled out by Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman as “the most egregiously neglected urban neighborhood I have ever seen.” The mayor is investing $5 million to rebuild streets and alleys and install sidewalks, lights, curbs, waterlines and storm-sewer lines, while federal Neighborhood Stabilization Project money will help to pay for 150 new homes.

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.

Now thanks to Homeport and Extreme Makeover, the Rhodes have a brand new home for the holidays. The episode showing the whole process will air on Friday, December 16 at 8 p.m. Eastern time. Some members of the Homeport team made cameo appearances in the show as elves and others may appear talking about the organization's programs. Tune in!

Monday, December 5, 2011

NeighborWorks Northeast Region Honors Two Visionary Leaders for Their Impact on Communities

More than 250 guests joined CEO Eileen Fitzgerald and Northeast Regional Director Deborah Boatright at the sixth annual NeighborWorks America Northeast Region Reception to honor two visionary leaders in Community Development: Marc Jahr, President, of the NYC Housing Development Corporation and George “Mac” McCarthy, Director, Metropolitan Opportunity Unit of the Ford Foundation.

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

New Federal Effort Launched to Combat Loan Modification Scams

NeighborWorks was so pleased to learn yesterday that the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the U.S. Department of the Treasury have joined forces to combat scams targeted at homeowners seeking to apply for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

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

A $3 million grant from the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation will support a range of NeighborWorks America training initiatives. It will strengthen the ability of nonprofit community development professionals to help thousands of consumers better understand homeownership and how to avoid foreclosure.

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

Season to be Thankful

Please view this video from NeighborWorks Anchorage and take a moment to appreciate your life and those organizations that help people in need, not giving them a fish, but showing them how to fish for themselves.

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

NeighborWorks America Names Sarah McGraw Greenberg Director of Development


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


New Orleans’s Mayor Mitch Landrieu announces
the $52 Million First Time Homebuyer Initiative
at a press conference on October 27. NeighborWorks
Southern District Senior Program Coordinator Donna Tally
and
City of New Orleans’ Director of Housing Policy
Brian Lawlor are on the Mayor’s left.

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.

A Glimpse Into the World of Community Development

Why Community Development? Why is it important and what does it take to succeed for the communities being served? Hear the answers directly from individuals who chose community development as a career path. Watch the video below, where the passion and dedication of those in this field are evident, then read the blog below from Nicholas Salerno, who’s just starting his career in community development at NeighborWorks America.

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
NeighborWorks America

During my sophomore year of high school, I had my life planned out: get my B.B.A in International Business, travel the world, have a high earning salary, “living the dream.” It was not until sophomore year of college where that “dream” meant something completely different.

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

Opportunity Finance Network and Starbucks Collaborate to Create Jobs

Many people must have their cup of Joe to make it through the morning. Now they can contribute to a much needed cause while they are at it.

On November 1, almost 7,000 Starbucks stores across the country and the Opportunity Finance Network, a national coalition of more than 180 community development financial institutions (CDFIs), launched a fundraising initiative to kick start job creation in the U.S.
Through the initiative, Create Jobs for USA, Starbucks customers can make tax-deductible contributions to a fund to help local companies hire and retain workers.
One hundred percent of donations will go to the CDFIs to finance underserved community businesses—small businesses, microenterprises, nonprofit organizations, commercial real estate developers, and affordable housing developers. All of these community businesses help to create and sustain local jobs.

More than 90 members of the NeighborWorks network are CDFIs. Related NeighborWorks capital corporations NeighborWorks Capital and Community Housing Capital are also CDFIs.

One organization that is making a difference both in housing and business lending is Community Ventures Corp (CVC), a Lexington-based member of the NeighborWorks network for ten years. CVC is the largest micro-enterprise business lender in the Small Business Administration system, making business loans as small as $500.

Kevin Smith, president and CEO of CVC said, “As a CDFI serving entrepreneurs throughout Kentucky, Community Ventures Corporation applauds the Opportunity Finance Network and Starbucks for creating space where small actions can pay great returns.”

Jennifer Vasiloff, executive vice president for policy at the Opportunity Finance Network is excited about the potential.

Create Jobs for USA has the potential to raise tens of millions of dollars and make more credit available all across the U.S,” Vasiloff said. “I never thought I would see a major corporation like Starbucks using its scale, the power of its brand, and its vast consumer marketing expertise to help people understand the concept of a CDFI. Millions will learn about these profit-making (but not profit-maximizing) nonprofit financial institutions that lend in underserved communities.”

The Starbucks Foundation is putting up $5 million to kick start the Create Jobs for USA campaign and is encouraging others to chip in. Customers who donate $5 or more will get a red, white and blue wristband with the message “Indivisible.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

President Obama Announces New Refinancing Plan to Help Struggling Homeowners

President Obama unveiled on Monday new rules to make it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortgages at today’s low-interest rates, no matter how far their property values have tumbled. The new changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) would apply to loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and to qualify, homeowners must be making on-time payments on their current mortgages.

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

NeighborWorks America

This home was once foreclosed and abandoned.
NHS of New Haven rehabilitated it and sold it.

The growing number of empty houses in neighborhoods hit hard by foreclosures presents a huge challenge for residents still in these neighborhoods — and for the banks and government entities that now own many of these properties. Property values have plummeted for homeowners; homes have become shells of shelter having been stripped of their copper wire, plumbing or anything of value; communities have become health hazards or magnets for crime. (See The New York Times Foreclosures Empty Homes, and Criminals Fill Them Up.)

Many responses have been launched to address the situation.

An early public policy response to the crisis was the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) that offered support to local initiatives to stabilize high-foreclosure communities, mitigate impacts on neighborhoods and families, reduce blight, and offer affordable housing choices to residents. Many NeighborWorks organizations participated in NSP efforts and their initial efforts with local government entities and many other nonprofit organizations have shown successes and positive impact of their work in many communities across the country.

While various responses have been important efforts in establishing a foothold, gaining large scale control of properties and achieving significant gains for affordable housing have been difficult.

But now maybe an opportunity presents itself. The federal government is investigating ways to encourage private investment in significant holdings of “REO” or “real-estate owned” properties held by FHA and the GSEs, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) requested comment on strategies for disposition, including as rental properties. (see FHFA, Treasury, HUD Seek Input on Disposition of Real Estate Owned Properties.)

The opportunity is the potential of adding a substantial amount of affordable rental and for-sale houses for low and moderate income families at a time of desperate need for such housing in our nation. The risk is that a unique opportunity to produce public benefit of longer-term stabilization of fragile communities and increasing supply of affordable housing may be missed in favor of quick disposition without regard to community interests. We believe it’s time to seize the opportunity at hand.

Local nonprofit housing corporations and community residents should be central to any long-term viable solution. In partnership with FHA, the GSEs, and the private market, these groups can deliver on meeting the needs of communities for housing and stability.

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

New Appraisers’ Tool Helps Homeowners Get Credit for Green Features


By Michelle A. Winters,
Senior Manager, Green Strategies
NeighborWorks America
Homeowners who have invested in energy saving upgrades can now have greater confidence that their property will be appraised at a fairer market value.

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

With funding for an extensive network of foreclosure counseling and legal services in New York set to expire in December, housing counselors and their partners throughout the state recently met to strategize about a path forward.

“By 2011, we thought the crisis would be done,” remarked Hilary Lamishaw, of the NYS Coalition for Excellence in Homeownership Education, as she opened the daylong conference. “We don’t know what the service delivery system will look like, but regardless, homeowners are going to have to be served,” Lamishaw added.

Housing counselors and their partners had been gathering at regional meetings leading up to the conference, discussing what might happen in their communities post-funding, sharing best practices and lessons learned.

The conference, sponsored by the NYS Coalition for Excellence in Homeownership Education, the Empire Justice Center and NeighborWorks America, with funds provided by New York State Homes and Community Renewal, provided an opportunity to hear about trends and models from throughout the country. The models included effective triage, on-line intakes, weekly webinars, and technologies such as Hope Loan Port, which have brought new efficiencies in service delivery and cost in other states. Faced with the loss of federal and state funding, Community Development Corporation of Long Island, a local NeighborWorks affiliate, is planning to hold group foreclosure intervention sessions.

Housing counselors weigh in on major topics that will serve as a starting point
for a statewide foreclosure prevention plan.

Lou Tisler, executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Cleveland, discussed the positive long-term impact Ohio Governor’s Foreclosure Prevention Task Force has had in giving the issue the political cachet needed to innovate.

Faith Schwartz with the Hope Now Alliance emphasized that it is important to embrace technology so that the work gets done.

Josh Zinner with the New York Community Economic Development Advocacy Project noted that although unemployment may be the immediate trigger now for delinquencies, underneath is often a sub-prime or predatory loan that makes the homeowner at increased risk.

The need for a fair and honest approach to principal reduction was another recurring theme as the audience considered what might really help mitigate foreclosure.

Conference participants developed a series of recommendations to serve as a start of a statewide plan of action, including strategies addressing policy, outreach, fee-for-service and funding, statewide collaboration, and improving the efficiency of counseling and legal issues. Plans are also under way for the development of uniform homeowner education materials that can be accessed from a single point of entry.

“We are facing similar issues in Philadelphia so that is why I came,” said Allison Hughes of the Homeownership Counseling Association of the Delaware Valley. “I thought that morale would be low, but everyone here is upbeat and focused, and the discussion has been great.”

“It was a strong collaboration between government, the courts, housing counselors, legal services, and elected officials in New York State that built an effective response to foreclosure over the last three years. Now that funds are scarce, we will need that collaboration more than ever as we chart a new path on behalf of New York’s homeowners,” said Deborah Boatright, NeighborWorks America Northeast regional director.

Friday, October 7, 2011

In San Francisco, Gordon Chin Left a Legacy of Building Bridges


Rep. Nancy Pelosi presents Chin with his American Flag
Chinatown CDC’s founding Executive Director Gordon Chin retired last Friday drawing national praise for his contributions to San Francisco's communities and to the field of community development since 1977.

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
The nonprofit is one of San Francisco’s most important
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

Citi Foundation announced recently that it is committing $2.75 million to the Housing Partnership Network (HPN) to support the neighborhood stabilization efforts of community-based housing organizations in 10 metropolitan areas across the country. The Innovations in Neighborhood Stabilization and Foreclosure Prevention Initiative will provide the community based organizations with grants and other resources to support high-impact neighborhood revitalization projects over a two-year period. HPN has been a partner with NeighborWorks America and five other national organizations in neighborhood stabilization efforts through the National Community Stabilization Trust. HPN also collaborates with NeighborWorks America on the StrengthMatters Initiative.

Four NeighborWorks organizations will be a part of the Citi Foundation and HPN initiative:

Housing Development Fund will work to stabilize Connecticut cities with high rates of foreclosure by developing a cohort of “landlord entrepreneurs” who will play a significant role as owner-occupants in a new, coordinated financing and training model for the purchase, rehabilitation and responsible management of owner-occupied small multi-family properties.

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

Proposed Jobs Bill Includes $15 Billion for Project Rebuild, “Next Generation” of NSP

by Sarah Greenberg,
Senior Manager for Community Stabilization
NeighborWorks America


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.
Project Rebuild also seeks to scale up successful land bank models, providing infusions of capital to leverage private sector investment, and to empower and expand collaborations with for-profit developers where appropriate.

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.
The Project Rebuild proposal is an acknowledgement of the importance of neighborhoods to Americans’ quality of life and to the economy, and of the effective work of nonprofits, government and their private sector partners in stabilizing communities.

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

NeighborWorks America Announces $3.65 Million in Expansion Grants for NeighborWorks Organizations

Today NeighborWorks America announced $3.65 million in grant funding to nonprofit organizations that will enable them to expand their service areas and reach deeper within underserved communities.

“The expansion grants announced today are a truly efficient use of funding for the nonprofit industry.  Instead of starting from scratch, the expansion grants enable NeighborWorks organizations to broaden their reach and bring their already established services and best practices into underserved communities,” said Eileen Fitzgerald, CEO of NeighborWorks America. 

The grants help organizations like Neighborhood Development Services in Ravenna, Ohio, to further expand their reach into 17 counties in southeast Ohio. Through their expansion, Neighborhood Development Services will develop affordable multifamily and owner-occupied homes for low- and moderate-income residents, work to develop the local economies in this region, and bring much-needed services to the residents, such as: financial education, homebuyer education, foreclosure intervention counseling, and other resident services.

The expansion grants will also assist Tierra del Sol, of Anthony, N.M., in its efforts to develop affordable rental housing for agricultural workers, low-income senior citizens, and persons with disabilities, rehabilitate owner-occupied homes, and provide financial and homebuyer education to residents in of five western Texas counties: El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis and Presidio.

The $3.65 million in grant funding is being provided to 25 organizations nationwide. See who they are.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why is Affordable Housing So Important? The Health and Development of Children Depend on It


Children playing at an after school program, sponsored by
Chelsea Neighborhood Developers in Massachusetts. 
by Leila Edmonds, Director
National Initiatives and Applied Research
NeighborWorks America


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

More than 1.1 Million Homeowners Counseled for Foreclosure


NeighborWorks America, the administrator of the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) Program, announced that more than 1.1 million homeowners across the nation have received foreclosure counseling through the NFMC Program, according to the Program’s sixth Congressional report.

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

September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance


[Can't see the video above? View it on YouTube: http://bit.ly/qpn6np]


Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. It is a day forever embedded in the heart of this nation, not only because of the senseless loss of life, but also because of the spirit of unity and compassion that swept our nation that day and the months that followed.

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

“So often we measure impact in numbers, but when I saw these pictures I thought they really conveyed the impact one VISTA volunteer can have on the lives of many children… No surprise that this is a really successful program.”
- Ann Houston, executive director
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

NeighborWorks Affiliate Receives International Recognition for Innovative Housing Solutions

NeighborWorks America is very excited to share that San Francisco affiliate Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation’s (TNDC) 990 Polk Street project has been selected as the U.S. Finalist for the 2011 World Habitat Award. This is an international award established in 1985 by the Building and Social Housing Foundation as part of its contribution to the United Nations International Year of Shelter for the Homeless.

The eight finalists and two winners were selected from more than 250 entries from 82 countries around the world. TNDC’s 990 Polk Street development was the only United States finalist and one of only two selected from all of North America.

990 Polk was selected for its innovative approach to housing a diverse mix of low-income and formerly homeless seniors, both in its social services model and its innovative and green design. The World Habitat Award rewards practical and innovative solutions to current housing needs and problems. 

“Being selected as an award finalist is exciting for TNDC because it highlights our innovative housing solutions in a global context,” said TNDC Executive Director Donald Falk. We are particularly proud of this accomplishment because it was truly an ‘all hands on deck’ effort…to meet every standard for World Habitat Award’s strenuous three-stage entry process.”  

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 
During a recent visit to the state of Hawaii, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan hailed Palolo Valley Homes, owned by NeighborWorks Affiliate Mutual Housing Association of Hawaii, as a national model for the successful privatization of public housing. Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie accompanied the secretary on a tour of the 300-unit property that houses low-income families. [View photos]

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

Mortgage Refinancing Challenges Banks and Consumers

Today’s story in the Wall Street Journal — “Mortgage Refinancing Wave Poses Challenge for Banks” — highlights another obstacle for consumers who want to take advantage of record low mortgage interest rates.

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’ Focus on Innovations in Affordable Rental Housing


In today’s turbulent economy, working families need consistent access to affordable housing more than ever. Changing family work situations, the unabated foreclosure crisis and more stringent mortgage loan requirements mean that for millions of families, renting an apartment or house is the only option. This has resulted in a sharp increase in the demand for affordable rentals, a critical need that NeighborWorks organizations are meeting in neighborhoods and communities across the country.

N
eighborWorks 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

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

NeighborWorks America Sees Obstacles to Significant Refinance Activity

Record low mortgage interest rates should be a boost to the economy as homeowners reduce their monthly housing costs and recycle the monthly savings back into the economy. But Marietta Rodriguez, National Director of Homeownership and Lending at NeighborWorks America, points out three realities of today’s mortgage market that suggest a refinance wave may not happen for many homeowners.
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

Senior Housing Issues, Successful Programs Take Center Stage at Atlanta Training Institute

An August 10 symposium on senior housing was the centerpiece of a week-long NeighborWorks Training Institute that attracted 2,100 community development practitioners to Atlanta. Sponsored by The Atlantic Philanthropies, the symposium brought together innovators from the affordable housing field with experts in aging to explore ideas and share strategies for creating healthy, vital communities that include seniors as a growing and important segment.

"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
Thanks to the Advisory Committee that helped make this an engaging symposium, representing AARP, AARP Foundation, Avesta Housing, HHS, Enterprise Community Partners, Leading Age, National Council on Aging, St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center and United Way.