Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NeighborWorks CEO Ken Wade Emphasizes Importance of Homeownership Counseling on the Tavis Smiley Show

On December 18, NeighborWorks America CEO Ken Wade was interviewed on the Tavis Smiley show, where he emphasized that homeownership is still a good opportunity for many people, including in areas impacted by foreclosure. According to Wade, it appears that those interested in buying are seeking upfront counseling.

"The groups that we work with are seeing record numbers of people coming in to get homebuyer education," Wade said. He added, "We think working with a local community-based organization, a housing counselor, will best position someone to be able to improve their credit if that's an issue, find the right mortgage product for them and put them on the path to successful homeownership."

Check out the interview.

Friday, December 18, 2009

FY 2010 Appropriations Bill for NeighborWorks America Signed

We are pleased to announce that on December 16, 2009, President Obama signed into law H.R. 3288, which provides FY 2010 appropriations for the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, and other agencies – including NeighborWorks America.

NeighborWorks America’s FY 2010 appropriation totals $233 million, and includes:

  • A base budget of $133 million

  • An additional $65 million to continue the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program, and

  • An additional $35 million for capital grants to rehabilitate or finance the rehabilitation of affordable housing units.

This compares favorably to the FY 2009 appropriation which provided:

  • A base budget of 131 million; and

  • An Additional $50 million for the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling program

Particularly in the midst of the current economic/budgetary environment, the corporation’s FY 2010 appropriation is a real testament to the hard work of NeighborWorks America staff and the staff and boards of local NeighborWorks organizations across the country, making a difference in the lives of the families and communities they serve.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Community Stabilization in Action: New Videos Show Local Efforts to Revitalize Neighborhoods

NeighborWorks America has released three new videos highlighting work being done on the ground by nonprofit organizations to revitalize neighborhoods.

Chelsea Neighborhood Developers, Chelsea, Massachusetts

Over the course of 2009 the City of Chelsea and Chelsea Neighborhood Developers partnered with residents of the Bellingham Hill section of the Shurtleff-Bellingham neighborhood to create a new vision for the area. This video profiles this work and highlights ways Chelsea Neighborhood Developers, the City and residents are working to address the impacts of foreclosure and revitalize the Bellingham Hill neighborhood. View video»

Beyond Housing, St. Louis, Missouri

Beyond Housing, Inc. has worked since 2002 to provide services to thousands of residents in the City of Pagedale in St. Louis County, MO. This video profiles the place-based approach Beyond Housing has taken to stabilize neighborhoods of Pagedale hit hard by the foreclosure crisis. View video»

LaCasa, Inc, Elkhart and Goshen, Indiana

LaCasa, Inc. works in partnership with individuals and community partners to create opportunity for personal growth, family stability and neighborhood improvement. This video profiles the strategies LaCasa, Inc. has used to counter the devastating impact the economic downturn and the rise in foreclosures has had on neighborhoods in Elkhart and Goshen, IN. View video»

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Oprah Magazine Highlights NeighborWorks America’s Foreclosure Help

NeighborWorks America’s foreclosure help was featured in the latest issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, in an article about a divorced mother of two who had fallen behind on her mortgage and other financial obligations after losing her job. In the article, “9 Ways to Get Your Finances Back on Track,” financial columnist Michelle Singletary maps out a financial rescue plan for Tisa McGhee and others who may be in a similar situation.

“I suggested Tisa turn to NeighborWorks America (NW.org), a nonprofit that helps consumers avoid foreclosure, and the agency intervened,” wrote Singletary as she described McGhee’s struggle to rework her mortgage and stay on top of her payments. “If you are having trouble paying your mortgage, you can also contact a free counselor approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (find one through HopeNow.com or at 888-995-4673),” Singletary continued.

Her advice is in line with the message we send to struggling homeowners, who can also locate a counselor near them at http://www.findaforeclosurecounselor.org/.

Monday, December 14, 2009

NeighborWorks America Receives $425,000 Grant from CITI Foundation

NeighborWorks America has received a $425,000 grant from Citi Foundation to enhance the professional capabilities of housing counselors. The grant will be used by the NeighborWorks Center for Homeownership Education and Counseling (NCHEC).

“Citi Foundation’s generous grant strengthens our ability to help nonprofit housing counselors to build the knowledge and skills they need to assist families who are struggling to maintain homeownership during this national housing crisis,” said Ken Wade, CEO of NeighborWorks America.

NCHEC provides homeownership counselors with access to quality tools, materials, best practices and uniform standards designed to help low- to moderate-income clients make informed homeownership decisions. Homeownership counselors play a critical role in helping homeowners develop budgets, accumulate savings and protect their housing investment.

With support from the Citi Foundation, NCHEC will provide training and certification to more than 400 housing counseling practitioners who will reach as many as 40,000 low-to moderate-income individuals with pre- and post-purchase homeownership education and foreclosure intervention counseling.

“As people struggle in this uncertain economy, Citi and Citi Foundation believe that it is essential that financial education and asset building programs deliver results and make a difference in peoples’ lives,” said Daria Sheehan, senior program officer, Citi Foundation. “We are proud to partner with NeighborWorks to provide the training to help practitioners assist low-income individuals in achieving their financial goals.”

Thursday, December 10, 2009

NeighborWorks Report Cites Job Loss or Reduced Income As Top Reason Homeowners Are Facing Foreclosure

NeighborWorks® America, the administrator of the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) Program, announced that more than half (54 percent) of homeowners who received foreclosure counseling through the NFMC Program reported the primary reason they were facing foreclosure was reduced or loss of income. This finding was reported in NeighborWorks’ fourth Congressional report, which reported on NFMC Program activity through August 18, 2009.

Over the course of the NFMC program, which began January 1, 2008, the percentage of homeowners who cited reduced or loss of income as the top reason they were facing foreclosure has steadily increased. In the June 2009 Congressional report, 49 percent of NFMC counseled-homeowners reported reduction or loss of income as the primary reason; 45 percent cited this reason in the February 2009 report; as did 41 percent in the October 2008 report. This parallels the nation’s unemployment rate, which until the November 2009 employment report, had steadily increased since October 2008.

“For the last year this nation has witnessed the highest unemployment rate and the largest number of job losses in over a generation,” said Ken Wade, CEO of NeighborWorks America. “Our report proves what many already believed to be true — no longer are mortgage payment increases, or even health issues or divorce, cited as the top reason homeowners are facing foreclosure. With the unemployment rate steadily increasing over the last year, it’s no surprise that reduced or loss of income is now the primary reason countless homeowners are facing foreclosure.”

The report also found that 56 percent of all NFMC clients held a fixed-rate mortgage. Forty-three percent (43%) of clients held a fixed rate mortgage with an interest rate below 8 percent.

To date more than 750,000 families have received foreclosure counseling as a result of NFMC Program funding. Late last month NeighborWorks reported that NFMC Program clients in foreclosure were 60 percent more likely to get out of foreclosure than homeowners who did not receive foreclosure counseling.

Speaking at NeighborWorks Symposium, Federal Reserve Governor Calls for Holistic Approach to Community Stabilization

With the downturn in housing affecting communities in a variety of ways, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy to fix deteriorating neighborhoods, said Federal Reserve Governor Elizabeth A Duke at the NeighborWorks Symposium on Community Stabilization held December 9 in Maryland.

“Because of these variations, a stabilization strategy that is effective in an industrial city facing high unemployment is unlikely to suit a suburban community where employment has remained relatively stable,” said Governor Duke.

Her observations were made first hand, as she toured the country to see how the economic crisis was impacting communities, how NeighborWorks was responding, and how the Reserve Banks were assisting communities under stress and the organizations that serve them. Governor Duke is a member of the NeighborWorks America Board of Directors and represents the Federal Reserve in a partnership with NeighborWorks America to reduce the impact of foreclosures in low- and moderate-income communities.

Governor Duke shared many lessons learned along the way; the first among them being that the effects of foreclosure on a community largely depends on the strength of the area’s underlying economy.

In some economically weaker communities, like Detroit, Cleveland and Indianapolis, the increased rates of foreclosures and the related economic downturn have hastened a cycle of vacancy and decreasing property values, said Governor Duke.

Communities with strong underlying economies have not been immune to the destabilizing effects of high foreclosure rates either. In the more vibrant communities of California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada, for example, there were very high rates of new home construction and speculative investments that resulted in unsustainable price escalation, Governor Duke said.

With so many influences exacerbating the foreclosure crisis across the country, Governor Duke said a holistic approach to community stabilization is key.

“After visiting with community organizations and seeing their work first-hand, it is clear to me that the most effective community stabilization approaches look beyond homes and mortgages,” said Governor Duke. “Successful community stabilization requires a broader vision of community, one that factors in the many elements that make a neighborhood a desirable place to live.”

She cited several examples of what this more holistic approach looks like across the country. Though tailored to meet the needs of the particular community, there is one thing all successful approaches have in common: organizational capacity.

The Governor highlighted efforts by NHS of Chicago, a NeighborWorks America member, as one of the “finest examples” organizational capacity. In the mid-1990s, NHS of Chicago identified predatory lending as a threat to the neighborhoods it served. In collaboration with the City of Chicago, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and many others, NHS formed the first Home Ownership Preservation Initiative (HOPI). This initiative became the model for foreclosure prevention and has been replicated across the country. Because of this experience, NHS was well-prepared to assist Chicagoans in the recent housing market downturn.

Governor Duke cautioned that many communities are facing the issues of vacancy, abandonment, and decay for the first time, and these communities need help to grow the human and financial capital required to address neighborhood decline. Organizational capacity needs time to be developed she said.

“As your attendance at this Training Institute demonstrates, there is a strong appetite among community organizations for information, training, and leadership development. And I am encouraged by your dedication,” said Governor Duke.

Read speech

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

About 25 Percent of HAMP Homeowners in Default Again

Data from the Treasury Department indicate that more than 25 percent of homeowners who have received assistance from the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) are behind on their new mortgage payments. DSnews.com picked up the statistic from Assistant Treasury Secretary Herbert Allison’s testimony before a congressional oversight panel, in which he stated that just “73 percent of borrowers are current in their trial plan payments.”

NeighborWorks America believes that one way to reduce the default rate is for homeowners to receive the lowest sustainable mortgage payment possible when they rework their mortgages. Foreclosure counseling also greatly increases the chances that homeowners will be successful in their efforts to keep their homes.

In a report released in November, NeighborWorks America found that homeowners who received loan modifications through the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) Program lowered their mortgage payments significantly more than homeowners who received loan modifications without NFMC Program counseling.

NFMC Program clients, with the help of their counselors, secured loan modifications that lowered their monthly mortgage payments $454 more than the clients who received modifications without foreclosure counseling, which results in an average annual savings of $5,448. The same report found that NFMC clients are 60 percent more likely to avoid foreclosure than homeowners who don’t seek counseling.

Read “Quarter of HAMP Mods in Default Again” at DSnews.com

Learn more about the NFMC report in the NeighborWorks newsroom.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Two Newly Chartered NeighborWorks Organizations Celebrate their Affiliation in the Northeast District


Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) in New York City and St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society in Camden, New Jersey, each recently held events to mark their affiliation with NeighborWorks America. Both highly accomplished organizations, they represent the first new affiliations in the Northeast district since 2002 and significantly expand NeighborWorks’ reach into underserved communities.

NeighborWorks America COO Eileen Fitzgerald noted that “St. Joseph’s represents the kind of excellence in community stabilization, revitalization and development that characterized the NeighborWorks network across the country.”

“St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society has helped thousands of New Jersey residents purchase and maintain their homes and they will be a tremendous asset to the NeighborWorks America network in our state,” said U.S. Senator Robert Menendez. “Their proven track record of educating potential home buyers will complement NeighborWorks’ efforts in improving the quality of life of working families. I congratulate St. Joseph’s for their revitalization projects which have improved the lives of so many children and families, andhope this partnership will serve to expand their efforts in promoting safety, financial stability and homeownership opportunities in Camden neighborhoods.”

Joined by District Director Deborah Boatright and several other prominent local elected officials, Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez offered her congratulations to AAFE. “By joining forces with NeighborWorks, AAFE will have additional funding and support for their efforts to create equal opportunities for all New Yorkers. I am committed to working with AAFE to address the shortage of affordable housing, increase financial literacy and improve lending practices. With unemployment rising above 10 percent and families struggling to make ends meet, this help is needed in New York City now more than ever.”

Read more in the NeighborWorks Newsroom.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

NeighborWorks Joins Senator Reid and Other Officials at Nevada Event to Stop Foreclosure Fraud

The state of Nevada has the highest foreclosure rate in the country, making it a prime breeding ground for foreclosure rescue scammers out to take advantage of struggling homeowners. Last week Senator Harry Reid of Nevada joined state and federal officials to launch a Stop Foreclosure Fraud campaign, and NeighborWorks America was invited to speak.

“Each day, families are losing their homes or equity and their fair share of the American Dream,” Senator Harry Reid said at the event, which was reported in the Las Vegas Sun . “As foreclosures rise, so do instances of fraud.”

“It’s quite regrettable that such a campaign is necessary,” said Marietta Rodriguez, NeighborWorks America’s deputy director of National Homeownership Programs and Lending.

NeighborWorks America launched a similar national campaign in October and is currently traveling the country educating homeowners about loan modification scams. This Nevada effort is a separate campaign focused solely on the state’s foreclosure problem.

Read more.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rev. Floyd Flake Keynotes “Faith In Action” Conference to Discuss Stabilizing MA Communities

Former Congressman, the Reverend and Doctor Floyd H. Flake, Sr. Pastor of the 20,000 member Greater Allen AME Cathedral in Jamaica, Queens, NY spoke to nearly 170 attendees from 73 faith-based organizations and agencies at the first “Faith in Action Conference: The Role of Faith Based Organizations in Stabilizing Massachusetts Communities.”

Reverend Flake described the shift in his church’s organizational structure during the 80’s and 90’s to embrace a paradigm shift toward church-centered, faith-based action that led to quality education and market oriented community and economic development for his community. He urged pastors and church members to think beyond their church structures and envision a more entrepreneurial role in sustaining, stabilizing and transforming communities.

“The synergy between NeighborWorks America and the faith-based participants was just bubbling with enthusiasm during the entire event," said LaRayne Hebert, director of NeighborWorks America's New England district. "This is just the beginning of new collaborations that reach more deeply into communities to create and preserve affordable housing.”

During closing minutes of the conference, organizers agreed that faith based organizations can play an important role in transforming communities so long as they continue to be strategic, collaborative and innovative.

Friday, November 20, 2009

NeighborWorks Applauds CFED's 30th Anniversary Celebration and Push to Create Economic Opportunities Through Innovation

CFED (Corporation for Enterprise Development), a long-time partner of NeighborWorks America, recently celebrated its 30th anniversary with an Innovation Summit and Gala celebration in Washington, DC. CFED has led the growth in individual development accounts for low-income American families to save, build assets, and enter the financial mainstream. At least a dozen local NeighborWorks organizations offer IDA programs.

CFED's Innovation Summit featured more than 20 innovations to help expand economic opportunity for millions of Americans. Among them was Manufactured Housing Done Right!, a new social enterprise developed by NeighborWorks member Frontier Housing in Kentucky.

Eileen Fitzgerald, chief operating officer, Marietta Rodriguez, deputy director for homeownership and lending, and David Dangler, director NeighborWorks Rural Initiative, were among the summit participants from NeighborWorks America.

Read more about it in the NeighborWorks newsroom.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NeighborWorks Fight Against Loan Modification Scams Kicks Off in Ohio

NeighborWorks America’s Loan Modification Scam Alert campaign moved into Ohio on November 18 as part of a national effort to educate homeowners about scammers who are out to take advantage of those facing foreclosure.

"We can't afford to wait any longer," said Ken Wade, executive director of NeighborWorks America. "Loan modification scams have reached epidemic proportions. There are thousands of fraudulent companies out there making a mint," he said.

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray and Columbus Housing Partnership President and CEO Amy Klaben joined NeighborWorks America CEO Ken Wade at the statehouse in Columbus to launch the campaign. A homeowner who was scammed shared his story and street teams distributed materials.

Read more about it in the NeighborWorks newsroom.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NFMC Program Study Finds Counseling Helps Borrowers Avoid Foreclosure

To date, the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NMFC) Program has provided 762,284 struggling homeowners with foreclosure prevention counseling, and according to a recent study, these homeowners are significantly more likely to keep their homes than those who try to go it alone.

According to NFMC’s fourth report to Congress, troubled borrowers who receive foreclosure prevention counseling are 60 percent more likely to avoid foreclosure than borrowers who don't receive counseling. The report also found that NFMC Program clients, with the help of their counselors, secured loan modifications that lowered their monthly mortgage payments $454 more than the clients who received modifications without foreclosure counseling, which results in an average annual savings of $5,448.

“The findings announced today demonstrate the real impact foreclosure counseling can have for families facing foreclosure,” said Ken Wade, CEO of NeighborWorks America. “Thanks to the hard work of nonprofit, HUD-approved housing counseling agencies around the country, and the expertise of their certified counselors, families are less likely to lose their homes to foreclosure and receive substantially better mortgage modifications, significantly reducing the likelihood of falling behind again on their mortgage.”

In an interview with the Washington Post on the report, NeighborWorks America COO Eileen Fitzgerald said that since the beginning of the crisis, relationships have developed between nonprofit counseling agencies and lenders that can speed the process.

“While it is still a challenge in being as responsive as we would like, it is better than what the homeowner faces,” alone Fitzgerald told the Post.

NeighborWorks America, who administers the $360 million government-funded program, commissioned the Urban Institute to conduct the study on the effectiveness of NMFC counseling efforts. The report covers counseling activity reported by program grantees as well as counselor training efforts provided by NeighborWorks between March 1, 2008 and August 18, 2009. The report also details the NFMC Program’s role in the Making Home Affordable program and the successes and challenges counselors face when helping homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Read more about it in the NeighborWorks newsroom.

View Washington Post article.

Download the report at www.nw.org/nfmc.

Friday, November 13, 2009

NeighborWorks America Says FHA is an Important Part of Safely Growing America’s Housing Market

Statement from Ken Wade, NeighborWorks America Chief Executive Officer

“The Federal Housing Administration continues to serve American homebuyers well and is expected to do so into the future, according to a new financial report released Thursday by the Agency. With total reserves in excess of $30 billion and a plan to further strengthen its capital, the FHA is an important part of stabilizing and safely growing America’s housing market.

The FHA has been there to make mortgage lending possible when the private sector has not, creating opportunities for low- and moderate-income homebuyers who have the credit record, capacity to pay and desire to grab their piece of the American Dream. The truth is that without the FHA’s increased presence in the mortgage market in recent months, many houses around the country would be vacant, destabilizing communities.

As importantly, the FHA has been the fuel for first-time homeowners, enabling an estimated one-half of all first-time homebuyers achieve homeownership in the second quarter of 2009 alone.

The Agency’s book of business today is stronger than ever. Average FICO scores are nearly 700 on the recent books of business, significantly higher than earlier books that are driving current period losses.

The FHA is on the right track. It is serving qualified homebuyers, developing a plan to increase its capital strength, and laying the foundation to continue stabilizing the housing market until the private sector is back on its feet."

See more information on this from NeighborWorks Public Policy and Legislative Affairs division.

Responsible Approaches to Neighborhood Stabilization: Case Studies in Action

Join NeighborWorks America and the Annie E. Casey Foundation for a free webinar, Responsible Approaches to Neighborhood Stabilization: Case Studies in Action, Thursday, November 19, 2-3 PM. This webinar will feature three organizations who are working to stabilize their neighborhoods in the wake of foreclosure. It will also highlight ways communities are taking a comprehensive and responsible approach to neighborhood stabilization. Presentations made by Hudson River Housing out of Poughkeepsie, NY, Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans and Lawrence CommunityWorks of Lawrence, MA will highlight strategies ranging from acquisition rehab to community building and organizing.

To join the webinar please register in advance here.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's Guiding Principles of Responsible Redevelopment highlight 12 core principles organizations and communities should consider during a redevelopment project. This webinar is hosted by NeighborWorks America and the Annie E. Casey Foundation and is part of the Responsible Approach to Neighborhood Stabilization partnership; a partnership to promote comprehensive and sustainable community stabilization efforts. For more information visit www.StableCommunities.org/redevelop.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

NeighborWorks America Receives More than $4.8M in HUD Support for Housing Counseling

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded NeighborWorks America $4,860,802, which will support training and certification opportunities for thousands of counselors from HUD-approved nonprofit counseling agencies, as well as nonprofit housing counseling at local NeighborWorks organizations.

“The grants announced by Secretary Donovan provide tremendous support for the critical housing counseling and training activities being carried out by NeighborWorks America and our affiliated NeighborWorks organizations across the country,” said Jayna Bower, director of the NeighborWorks Center Homeownership Education and Counseling (NCHEC). “Homeownership education and counseling enables families to make sound financial decisions and achieve and sustain homeownership, which contributes to healthy, stable communities nationwide.”

Of the $4.8 million awarded, $3.2 million will enable NCHEC and the NeighborWorks Training Institute to provide nationally-recognized training and certification to thousands of counselors, including more than 1,300 training scholarships throughout the year. About $1.6 million will provide direct operational support to individual HUD-approved NeighborWorks organizations that provide nonprofit housing counseling in their communities.

More details are in the NeighborWorks newsroom.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NeighborWorks America Announces $1.9 Million in Community Stabilization Grants

Today NeighborWorks America announced that it awarded a total of $1.9 million in community stabilization grants to 38 local NeighborWorks organizations throughout the country. Each NeighborWorks organization will use its $50,000 grant to support its community stabilization efforts, which are primarily focused on acquiring, renovating, and selling foreclosed or vacant homes to low- and moderate-income families.

Altogether, the NeighborWorks organization grantees and their local strategic partners plan to purchase 2,800 housing units. After necessary improvements, 1,400 homes will be sold, 630 will become rental housing, and 322 will be sold through lease-purchase programs. In addition, approximately 451 blighted homes are slated for demolition. Just over 8,000 prospective homeowners will be served through pre-purchase counseling programs expanded to address the challenges of buying bank-owned properties.

Read more about where these grants are going and how they will be used.

Monday, November 9, 2009

NeighborWorks America Supports Extension of Homebuyer Tax Credit

NeighborWorks America applauds the latest decision by Congress and the Obama Administration to renew the homebuyer tax credit and make the credit available to both first-time homebuyers and repeat homeowners who have lived in their homes for five years.

Regardless of whether you are a first-time homebuyer or an existing homeowner ready to make your next home purchase, NeighborWorks urges all homebuyers to seek homeownership education from a HUD-approved nonprofit organization before purchasing a home.

“Buying a home is a complex financial transaction and homeowners who begin the process with the right information through homeownership education lay the groundwork for long-term success for themselves and the community at-large,” said Ken Wade, CEO of NeighborWorks America. “Millions have been affected by the short-term approach to homeownership that was prevalent earlier this decade. Had homebuyers had adequate access to homebuyer education prior to their home purchases, I am sure that the foreclosure crisis would have been less severe.”

For 30 years, the NeighborWorks network and nearly 100 other locally-based nonprofit organizations have worked with thousands of homebuyers to help them achieve their dream of long-term homeownership. These HUD-approved counseling organizations have trained counselors on-staff, ready to advise families one-on-one and help them make the right homeownership choices for them. View a list of NeighborWorks Homeownership Centers to find homeownership education courses offered near you.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fannie Mae Offers Rental Option to Borrowers in Foreclosure

Homeowners in trouble are being offered a new option to stay in their homes if they can’t pay their mortgage. On November 5, Fannie Mae announced that it will begin allowing borrowers on the verge of foreclosure to rent back their homes for up to one year.

The new Deeds for Lease Program is designed for borrowers who do not qualify for or have not been able to sustain other loan-workout solutions, such as a modification. Under the program, borrowers transfer their property to the lender by completing a deed in lieu of foreclosure, and then lease back the house at a market rate.

“This new program helps eliminate some of the uncertainty of foreclosure, keeps families and tenants in their homes during a transitional period, and helps to stabilize neighborhoods and communities," Fannie Mae Vice President Jay Ryan said in a statement.

In interviews with the Associated Press, two members of the NeighborWorks America network had different takes on the new Fannie Mae effort to stave off foreclosures.

"It shows that you put your best effort to work out a solution," said Gabe Del Rio, director of homeownership at Community HousingWorks of San Diego.

However, Mike Himes, director of homeownership services at NeighborWorks Sacramento, said the industry should push harder to modify loans at lower monthly payments. “The preferred option is allowing people to retain ownership,” he said.

Read Fannie Mae Press Release.

Read AP story.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

NeighborWorks Northeast District Honors Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker and F.B. Heron Foundation President Sharon King

The Honorable Cory A. Booker, mayor of Newark and Sharon King, president of the F.B. Heron Foundation were honored as “Visionary Leaders in Community Development” at the Fourth Annual NeighborWorks America Northeast District Reception, hosted by the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York on Park Avenue in Manhattan.

The Annual District Reception, known as “A Community United,” drew 300 leaders from the housing field, finance, government, foundations and nonprofits.

NeighborWorks America CEO Ken Wade spoke about Mayor Booker’s dedication to “development without displacement” in more than doubling the number of affordable housing units in the City of Newark while significantly reducing crime, beautifying public spaces and enforcing an aggressive anti-abandonment strategy.

King, a long-time NeighborWorks supporter, was cited by Wade for having “shaped a foundation that is known for its uncommonly close partnership with grantees -- a collaboration based on a culture of engagement, trust, mutual learning and a focus on results.”

Read more.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NeighborWorks COO Eileen Fitzgerald Featured on "Code Red" Radio Show

Yesterday Eileen Fitzgerald, chief operating officer for NeighborWorks America, joined Code Red! radio host Alfred McComber to discuss the new Loan Modification Scam Alert campaign.

Listen to Eileen share tips consumers can use to spot and avoid loan modification scams. Eileen's half-hour interview begins 28 minutes and 42 seconds into the show.

For more information about NeighborWorks' new Loan Modification Scam Alert campaign, visit our web site at http://www.loanscamalert.org/.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Former Executive Director George Knight Inducted into Affordable Housing Hall of Fame

George Knight, former executive director of NeighborWorks America, was inducted into the Affordable Housing Hall of Fame in a luncheon ceremony held during The Affordable Housing Developers’ Summit on October 28 at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago. Knight's wife, Kathy Desmond, accepted the award. Steve Tuminaro, NeighborWorks America’s director of Public Policy and Legislative Affairs and long-time colleague of George Knight, addressed the attendees, speaking of the significant growth of the NeighborWorks system under the Knight’s leadership. Tuminaro also spoke of the legacy for continued growth that Knight left with us.

Read the article in Affordable Housing Finance Magazine regarding the Hall of Fame inductees, and a tribute to George Knight.

View NeighborWorks America's tribute to Knight: Remembering George Knight: A Model for Servant Leadership

Thursday, October 29, 2009

NeighborWorks America Adds Two New “Green” Courses to its National Training Institute Curriculum; Offerings Designed to Help Communities Go Green

NeighborWorks America expanded its curriculum of energy efficiency and healthy homes courses to include two new classes designed to help community leaders engage residents in creating greener communities, and to help non-profit managers improve the green footprint of their organizations.

The new courses, Taking Green Action in Your Community, and Greening Your Organization” bring the total number of “Green” courses taught at the upcoming NeighborWorks Training institute to six. In all, NeighborWorks America offers 16 green courses. The next NeighborWorks Training institute is December 7-11 in suburban Washington, D.C. Registration is still open at http://www.nw.org/network/training/training.asp.

“These courses are great additions to our existing offerings, providing important information for nonprofit leaders that will help them reduce the carbon footprint of their organizations, and help educate residents on how to ensure that the communities in which they live are healthy and sustainable,” said Thomas Deyo, director of green programs at NeighborWorks America.

Greening Your Organization is supplemented by a guide released earlier this year by NeighborWorks America, Greening Your Nonprofit From the Inside Out. Produced in conjunction with Strategic Sustainability Consulting, the 84-page guide contains case studies that non-profit organizations around the country can follow to lower their energy usage and increase the health quality of the places they work and the housing that they build.

“All of the courses and the guide are part of NeighborWorks America’s program called, “Think Green, Act Green”, a commitment to advance environment responsibility across the community development industry,” added Deyo. More on this commitment can be found at www.nw/green.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NHS of South Florida Installs Green, Hurricane Ready Home in Four Hours

With a grant from the NeighborWorks Innovations in Factory Built Housing program and assistance from other funding partners, NeighborWorks member NHS of South Florida has completed the first green, hurricane ready Royal Concrete house in Miami. The home is all concrete and can withstand up to a category five hurricane. It is energy efficient with heavy insulation built in, all Energy STAR appliances and a solar water heater. It took took just four hours to install.

Watch this brief, minute and a half video of the installation below. If you have trouble viewing it, go here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

NeighborWorks America and Partners Launch National Campaign to Help Homeowners Combat Loan Modification Scams

Today in Los Angeles, NeighborWorks America and a partnership of local, state and national government agencies, nonprofit organizations and financial institutions gathered at City Hall to launch a national public education campaign designed to help homeowners protect themselves against loan modification scams, find trusted help and report illegal activity to authorities. This was the first of several kickoff events scheduled to announce the “Loan Modification Scam Alert” campaign rollout in major cities across the country.

The national foreclosure rate has reached an all-time high of 7.97 percent, and millions more foreclosures are expected in coming years. “As the foreclosure rate grows, more and more homeowners are being deceived by scam artists who prey on their fears,” said Eileen Fitzgerald, Chief Operating Officer of NeighborWorks America. “This campaign is based on the belief that knowledge is the best defense, which is why the campaign equips homeowners with the tools they need to minimize their risk and stop scammers in their tracks.”

Los Angeles is one of several metropolitan areas in California to consistently rank among cities with the highest foreclosure rates. It has the highest number of homes in foreclosure in the nation. “Too many residents in Los Angeles, like homeowners nationwide, are losing thousands of dollars and their homes to scam artists who make big promises and then do little or nothing to help them save their homes,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “Anyone can be a victim and the people of Los Angeles need to know what resources are available to them. They need to know that legal aid groups, financial institutions, and HUD-certified counselors are offering free services to anyone seeking help.”

NeighborWorks America will coordinate the nationwide effort through its 235 community-based affiliates and other local, state and national partner organizations, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Together, the partners aim to reach thousands of distressed homeowners in hundreds of communities at high risk for fraud activity. The campaign will target all audiences, but its resources are focused sharpest on those groups that have already seen high levels of scam activity, including seniors, Hispanics, African Americans and Asian Americans.

As part of the campaign, information, resources and reporting capabilities are now available around the clock at http://www.loanscamalert.org/ and by calling 1-888-995-HOPE (4673). Community groups may also visit the Web site to access campaign materials available for download and distribution in their area.

The partnership has designated November as “National Loan Modification Scam Awareness Month” and will promote a variety of special events and initiatives throughout the month. In the coming weeks, the campaign will also travel to Miami (Oct. 29) and Columbus (mid-November). For more information about the campaign visit http://www.loanscamalert.org/.

A Webcast of the Los Angeles event will be available on-demand anytime after noon PST on Oct. 26 at: http://media.xfactorcom.com/loanmodificationscamalert/20091026/

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NeighborWorks CEO Ken Wade Praises Resident Involvement in Local Redevelopment Plans

An effort to revitalize 10 of Milwaukee's low-income areas drew praise from NeighborWorks America CEO Ken Wade during a recent visit to the city. The plans to revitalize the Lindsay Heights and Clarke Square neighborhoods are part of a 10-year, $50 million commitment by local real estate developer and philanthropist Joseph Zilber to improve low-income neighborhoods.

But Wade’s praise was not delivered because of the scope of the Zilber Neighborhood Initiative. He was impressed with the level of resident involvement in developing the plans.

"Usually, it's professional planners, but engaging residents lets them present the vision for what they want, and professionals can then help the residents implement the plan," Wade said in an interview with the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel.

The plans were presented in conjunction with the NeighborWorks America Community Leadership Institute, a gathering of 900 grassroots community leaders from across the country. They met in Milwaukee last week to improve their skills and knowledge of how to rebuild their own low-income neighborhoods.

According to the Journal Sentinel’s report, more than 1,000 residents from the two neighborhoods participated over the past 10 months to brainstorm how to create quality-of-life plans that will guide the program's development. The residents focused on creating new jobs and economic development and improving parks, education, health, public safety and housing. Read more at jsonline.com.

NeighborWorks News home.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Foreclosed Homes Turned into Lease-to-Buy Properties

NeighborWorks Waco is giving foreclosed homes a new purpose. Through the organization's PEARLS program, abandoned homes are being converted into lease-to-buy properties for renters. If you have trouble viewing the video below, go here. You can also read about it here.

CDFI Fund to Hold Informational Conference Calls on CDFI Certification

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) will be conducting a series of conference calls regarding CDFI Certification. These calls will serve as a forum for potential certification applicants to ask questions of Fund staff about becoming a certified CDFI.

Schedule
Thursday, October 22, 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. EDT

Thursday, November 19, 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. EDT

Instructions
To access either of these conference calls, dial (202) 927-2255 and enter pin number 687434. No prior registration is necessary. The phone and pin numbers are the same for both calls.

For more information about CDFI Certification eligibility and the application process, or the CDFI Fund's programs, visit the Fund's Web site at http://www.cdfifund.gov or contact the Fund Help desk by emailing cdfihelp@cdfi.treas.gov or by calling (202) 622-6355.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Solar Village on the National Mall

Some 800 students from 20 universities in four countries (U.S., Canada, Germany and Spain) built the solar-powered village on the National Mall. Teams had until Wednesday, Oct. 7, to assemble the homes, and are competing in 10 contests from Oct. 8-16. The homes are open to the public from Oct. 9-13 and Oct. 15-18.

Each team got $100,000 from the Energy Department to design its home over the last two years, then transport it and assemble it on the National Mall. The department, for its part, hopes to get a payback over time: research that leads to reduced costs for solar technology.

MSNBC slideshow

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fannie and Freddie Help on Foreclosed Homes

Here is some good news for neighborhoods that have a lot of foreclosed properties and where potential home buyers are hard pressed to find financing. The New York Times reported that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are offering financing incentives for buyers of foreclosed homes that Fannie and Freddie own.

Home buyers have until October 30 to apply to take advantage of Freddie Mac’s SmartBuy program, which began in July and offers up to 3.5 percent of a home’s sale price to help cover closing costs. Through participating lenders, Fannie Mae will offer mortgages to buyers who make a down payment of 3 percent, and these buyers do not have to secure private mortgage insurance, as they would when doing business with nearly any other lender.

Also, in areas hit hardest by the economic downturn that have qualified for federal financing through the National Stabilization Program, which helps distressed communities, Fannie Mae may discount its foreclosed properties by up to 15 percent, The Times reported.

Most of Fannie Mae’s foreclosure incentives are offered to buyers who will use the property as their primary residence, or NeighborWorks or other local organizations that rehabilitate properties and sell them to owner-occupants.
View article.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Social Investors Find ‘Silver Lining’ in Foreclosure Crisis by Partnering With Nonprofits

The Christian Science Monitor reported recently that affordable housing purchased by social investors is allowing low-income earners to find community-oriented housing in expensive markets from Marin County, Calif., to New York City. Areas where teachers, waiters, and receptionists typically can’t afford to live are now within reach, thanks to a growing number of partnerships between housing nonprofits and investors.

In Columbus, Ohio, NeighborWorks member Columbus Housing Partnership has forged a new partnership with regional lender Huntington Bank. Together, they formed the Huntington Homeownership Alliance, a three-year, $10 million effort that funds home buyer education workshops, online virtual foreclosure counseling, and loan products designed to help families buy houses from CHP’s inventory of affordable homes.

CHP President and CEO Amy Klaben pointed out to The Christian Science Monitor that despite the increase in socially responsible lending, sustainability is a challenge. Though CHP can now buy five homes for a relative bargain, if there are still 15 more vacant houses on the street, “you aren’t making a market impact,” Klaben said.

Read more.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Report: States with Tough Anti-Predatory Lending Laws Post Lower Foreclosure Rates

States with strong anti-predatory lending laws fared better during the foreclosure crisis than states without these laws, according to a new study conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Center for Community Capital.

The study also found that after the federal government exempted national banks from state anti-predatory lending laws in 2004, national banks increased their subprime lending, especially in states where other lenders remained subject to strict anti-predatory lending laws.

The study, “State Anti-Predatory Lending laws: Impacts and Federal Preemption,” found specifically that:

  • As of June 2008, the foreclosure rate was 12 percent higher in states without anti-predatory lending laws.
  • Mortgage loans made in states with strong anti-predatory laws were less risky. In these states, average credit scores were higher, and average debt to income ratios and loan-to-value ratios were lower.
  • National banks showed a marked increase in subprime lending following federal exemption. The biggest jump (from 9 percent to 20 percent) occurred in those states where national banks had been subject to stricter laws until 2004, but after that date, gained a competitive advantage against other lenders who remained subject to higher state standards.

The study was funded by the North Carolina Department of Justice and the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia University. Read more findings in the news release.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Community Stabilization Photo Contest - Deadline October 30

NeighborWorks America’s Stable Communities Program is holding a photo contest in conjunction with the NeighborWorks Training Institute Symposium: “Rising to the Challenge: Stabilizing Communities in the Wake of Foreclosure,” which will be held on December 9, 2009 in the Washington DC metro area. Photos related to community stabilization and neighborhood revitalization efforts, particularly in areas impacted by foreclosure, will be accepted.

The contest is open only to NeighborWorks chartered organizations, and thus NeighborWorks America will not accept photo submissions from other organizations.

Prizes will be awarded as grants to the NeighborWorks organizations submitting the winning photos, as follows:

• First Prize: $2500 grant
• Second Prize: $1500 grant
• Third Prize: $1000 grant

The winning photos will be unveiled in a presentation at the Symposium. See how to enter and other rules.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

NeighborWorks America Reaches Out to Vietnamese Community

NeighborWorks America supported a first-ever Vietnamese Community Leadership Institute (CLI) in Seattle in September. It was sponsored by NeighborWorks Community Building and Organizing Program, at the request of its member organization HomeSight, Inc. NeighborWorks sponsors national community leadership institutes each year, but this was the first time a NeighborWorks organization has held an in-language, culturally-based institute.

“Many local NeighborWorks organizations have created their own local CLI's upon return from one of our national events,” said Susan Naimark, acting director of NeighborWorks national CBO programs. “When Tony To, HomeSight's executive director, asked for support to do a bilingual CLI for the Vietnamese community, we were glad to offer our assistance.”

HomeSight hired one of NeighborWorks most seasoned community building and organizing trainers, Karimah Nonyameko, to work with a local Vietnamese trainer. This ensured the relevancy and cultural appropriateness of the training. Having the program in-language also made it a lot more personal for the people involved.

“I’ve been to a lot of leadership training in my line of work, but the VCLI gave me tools to reinforce my knowledge and it also renewed my passion to work in the community,” Thu-Van Nguyen, who works at Asian Counseling and Referral Services, told Northwest Vietnamese news.

“We look forward to sharing the materials and learnings from this event with other organizations across our network,” said Naimark.“It's a great model for working with non-English speaking communities, giving them tools to engage with each other and the broader community.”

View photos from the event.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

NeighborWorks Spotlights Seven High-Impact Social Media Trends for Neighborhoods and Local Nonprofits

With all the talk about Facebook, Twitter and online social networks lately, it’s easy to lose sight of the impact of social media on neighborhoods and nonprofit community development efforts.

Here are seven trends worth noting.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

NeighborWorks Discusses Foreclosure in Black Communities at Congressional Black Caucus Conference

On September 24, National Initiatives and Applied Research Director Nelson Merced was part of a Congressional Black Caucus panel discussion on the current economic recession that has destabilized rates of black homeownership and the economic fates of many African Americans. The panel examined the current scope of the housing and foreclosure crisis in the black community and implications for homeowners and renters, as well as policy solutions critical to fostering housing and economic security among African Americans. View talking points.

Monday, September 28, 2009

NeighborWorks COO Tells Congressional Committee That Working with Servicers Continues to be a Challenge for Counselors

NeighborWorks America COO Eileen Fitzgerald recently told the Congressional Committee overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) that while a number of improvements are being made to the Making Home Affordable Program, counselors continue to face difficulty working with servicers.

In testimony before the committee on September 24, Fitzgerald described several factors that continue to limit the success of the program, including difficult and inefficient communications between servicers and counselors, servicers’ disregard for the guidelines of the program, and frustrations with the system as a whole.

Fitzgerald said, for example, that it can take as long as two hours to reach a mortgage servicer. Some homeowners send in documentation, but are asked to do so again. And at times, Fitzgerald said, mortgage servicers are reluctant to disclose the full terms of the new loan. Read AP coverage. View testimony.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Nearly 1.5 Million Take Advantage of the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit

With the help of NeighborWorks Green Bay, Lori Guns was one of nearly one-and-a-half million first-time home buyers nationwide who have taken advantage of the $8,000 federal tax credit. It took the Wisconsin resident nearly two years to achieve her dream of homeownership, but on September 22 she was handed the keys to her first home, according to local ABC news affiliate WBAY. The IRS estimates that the first-time homebuyer tax credit program, set to expire in November, has helped nearly 1.5 million people like Guns purchase their first home, and some are calling on Congress to extend the program. Read about and view video of Guns’ success story.

Monday, September 21, 2009

2009’s Most and Least Affordable Housing Markets

Throughout the housing boom and subsequent crash America’s most and least affordable housing markets have remained largely unchanged, according to a recent BusinessWeek report.

In 2009, America’s most affordable housing market was Kokomo, Indiana, and homes in other Midwestern cities remained on top of the affordable housing list. Likewise, most homes sold in pricey East and West Coast metros remain unaffordable for average earners.

But 2009 offers some hope for homeowners, whether they are modest or high-income earners. According to BusinessWeek, buying a home this year hasn’t been this affordable in a generation. Across the board, home prices have plunged, interest rates are at near historic lows and the government is kicking in as much as $8,000 to encourage first-time buyers to purchase a home.

Read more about where to find the nation’s most affordable housing and view these interesting photos of the ranked cities.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

National Collaboration Turns Foreclosures Into Opportunities

In an unprecedented move, leaders from the nonprofit sector, philanthropic community, financial industry and government have joined forces in creating a highly innovative and effective approach to reclaim neighborhoods devastated by high concentrations of foreclosed and abandoned property.

The National Community Stabilization Trust (“Stabilization Trust”), a new nonprofit organization, will help re-knit the fabric of neighborhoods torn apart by the high levels of foreclosed and abandoned property, property disinvestment, plummeting housing prices, and low resident confidence.

This is being accomplished by providing local government and local housing providers with two critical services that are currently missing to effectively stabilize neighborhoods – easy access to foreclosed properties and access to flexible financing to renovate these properties.

The Stabilization Trust will facilitate the transfer of foreclosed property from the many financial institutions that own or manage these properties to locally designated community housing providers who will renovate the housing for new homeowners and renters. This effort will help speed use of $6 billion in new federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program resources that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is making available to localities and public-private partnerships.

Under the Stabilization Trust’s popular First Look program, cities and counties can get access to foreclosed homes before they are made available to the general market, resulting in a more predictable and cost effective neighborhood revitalization strategy.

“Communities need a straight-forward and streamlined way to acquire foreclosed and abandoned homes,” said Craig Nickerson, president of the National Community Stabilization Trust. “The Stabilization Trust’s First Look program puts the local housing providers in the driver’s seat, able to strategically decide which properties are most important to their neighborhood revitalization plans.”

More than 100 hard hit communities in 35 states across the country have already signed up for this free service from the Stabilization Trust, which is now making its services available to localities nationwide and putting thousands of properties in the hands of local housing providers.

Six leading nonprofit organizations – Enterprise Community Partners, Housing Partnership Network, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the National Urban League, National Council of La Raza, and NeighborWorks America – serve as the founding sponsors of the Stabilization Trust. They came together last year to form the new organization in the wake of the current housing crisis.

Funding from these organizations and from philanthropic leaders, including the MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, Open Society Institute and Heron Foundation have helped capitalize the nationwide operation. Many of the nation’s major financial institutions are working with the Stabilization Trust to convey foreclosed property, including Bank of America, Citi, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, GMAC, JP Morgan Chase, Nationstar, Saxon, Wells Fargo and others.

Read more at stablizationtrust.com.

Massachusetts Teens Honored for Their Work in Foreclosure Prevention

Denise Peterson, a 19-year-old from Worcester, Mass., thought she would work in a secretarial role when she took a summer youth position with NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center of Worcester. Instead, she was trained in personal finance and budgeting, sustainable homeownership and foreclosure prevention. She then used that newfound knowledge to help homeowners struggling to meet their mortgage payments to avoid foreclosure and remain in their homes.

Peterson was one of three teenagers who served as summer youth workers at the center, through a collaboration of the center, the Oak Hill Community Development Corp., the Worcester Community Action Council and Worcester Credit Union. The three were honored for their service on September 8, during a visit by U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern. "Some come here because they’re afraid of losing their homes," McGovern said. "This organization is a model to the nation in how to involve young people in community service. Their work here has resulted in families keeping their homes." Read more about it in the Telegram.com.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Webinars on Neighborhood Stabilization Help Practitioners Optimize Their Programs

Across the country neighborhood stabilization efforts are already underway using the first round of Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds. Practitioners involved should not miss Making it Work—Practical Information on How to Implement a Stabilization Plan, a webinar series that will cover new strategies and best practices to further enhance their programs.

The series will run four Tuesdays in a row — September 15, 22, 29 and October 6 — from 2-3p.m. EDT. Directly following each webinar, from 3-4p.m. EDT, presenters will be available to answer questions.

Topics include Program Design for Maximum Impact, Acquisition Strategies, Disposition Strategies and Performance Measurement. Learn more and register today!

The series is a collaboration between Enterprise Community Partners, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the National Housing Conference, the National Community Stabilization Trust and NeighborWorks America.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

NeighborWorks America Represented at the 2009 National Conference on Volunteering & Service

If you have difficulty viewing the video below, view it on our YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxJRRQ6UpRI

New Study Shatters Myths About Green Consumers

Conventional wisdom has been that the environment is the top concern of green consumers, but according to a new national study, it’s actually the economy. The study, conducted by a Knoxville, Tennessee firm Shelton Group, polled 1,007 U.S. consumers who at least occasionally buy green products. The group says the results shatters six stereotypes commonly held about what motivates consumers to buy green.

One myth debunked by the study: Green consumers’ top concern is the environment. However, 59 percent of those polled identified the economy as their number one concern, with the environment trailing far behind at 8 percent. In addition, more than 73 percent chose to reduce their energy consumption to lower their bills rather than "save the planet."

In the affordable housing industry, this confirms the importance of building green homes in the current economic environment. The study also has implications for how those green homes are marketed to buyers. While a home’s LEED certification or use of earth friendly building materials are very important, touting the cost savings of owning a green home might be a stronger hook for some homebuyers.

This does not mean that efforts to educate the public on the environment should be abandoned. In fact the study found that individuals who were knowledgeable about environmental issues do tend to participate in a significantly higher average number of green activities.

However, among those 25-34 years old, this knowledge did not always lead to eco-conscious behavior, such as conserving electricity or buying energy efficient products for the home. This suggests that perhaps better targeted messages might lead to more people buying and living green.

Read more about the Six Myths of Green Consumers in EcoHome Magazine.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Four Years After Katrina, a Sustainable Homes Partnership in New Orleans Makes Progress

Four years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and Gulf Coast communities, Brad Pitt's Make It Right and NeighborWorks America are partnering on sustainable home rebuilding and homeownership education in The Lower Ninth Ward.

VIEW VIDEO

Friday, August 28, 2009

Moved Houses Become Happy Homes in Oregon

The Gazette Times reports that Willamette Neighborhood Housing moved a couple houses after buying the land on which they stood and where the organization planned to build a multi-family housing project. Instead of demolishing them, they decided to move them to a plot of land that the nonprofit owns on Southwest Leonard Street, where they became part of the Community Land Trust Program. The point of the land trust is to sell the houses to low-income first-time homebuyers for about half the usual cost of a house in Corvallis.

The total costs for the moving and rehabilitation of both homes totaled $279,996, which was largely financed by the City of Corvallis, as well as Community Frameworks and Neighborworks America. http://tiny.cc/R9eio






http://tiny.cc/R9eio

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Remembering Senator Kennedy

IN MEMORY OF SENATOR EDWARD M. KENNEDY
From Chris Harper-Fahey, NeighborWorks America, New England District

Always concerned about those less fortunate, Senator Kennedy and the Kennedy name was iconic in Massachusetts. As a young girl, I was often moved by President John Kennedy’s call to public service and Robert’s concern about the poor and I was inspired by the youngest of the three Kennedys, "Teddy" and that he cared about working families in Massachusetts. But it wasn’t until I was an adult raising a family as a single mom, that I really started to pay attention to Senator Ted Kennedy’s social purpose and legislative vision: health care, equality, immigration reform, social justice, and his call to public service just to name a few. He inspired me to pursue a path in public service and social justice and to fight for those less fortunate. But it wasn’t until I heard the Senator’s eulogy for his brother Bobby Kennedy, that I understood my heart’s call. I eventually found that affordable housing was my call. Today, in memory of Senator Edward "Teddy" Kennedy, I share this with you, changing it only to reflect my view of his life’s work, his belief’s and today, his call to us.

"Ted Kennedy need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, but to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it. Those of us who loved him, and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will someday come to pass for all the world. As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him: 'Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" Ted Kennedy dreamt of things that never were and say, "Why not?"

Monday, August 24, 2009

Marietta on CBS News: Unemployment Fueling Foreclosures

NeighborWorks America Homeownership Director Marietta Rodriquez, told CBS Evening News that rising unemployment is leading to more housing foreclosures. She said recent reports from foreclosure counselors indicate that 50 percent of the time job loss is the stated reason for mortgage delinquency.

CBS Evening News video, View

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Consumer Videos for Homeowners and Prospective Buyers Available

These are trying times for homeowners and those thinking about buying may wonder if it’s worth the risk. Three new videos from NeighborWorks America provide homeowners and first-time buyers with useful advice for weathering the current environment. “What to Do When Facing Foreclosure” is for homeowners on the brink of losing their homes. “How to Avoid Foreclosure,” is geared toward homeowners who are making their mortgage payments on time, but want to be proactive in ensuring they keep their homes if hard times hit. “Is This a Good Time to Buy a Home?” is for consumers who want to buy a home for the first time but may not be aware of the strong incentives to do so now. NeighborWorks America’s Senior Homeownership Specialist Milt Sharp provides the advice in these videos, which are all available on NeighborWorks YouTube channel.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Follow NeighborWorks Social Media Symposium Live Online!

We would love for you all to join us in Chicago on August 19 for NeighborWorks' symposium, Social Media and Web 2.0: Engaging Community and Achieving Mission. But if you can't attend, you can still participate and follow the discussion live!

Follow us on Twitter
Social media tools like Twitter allow conference participants to join an online dialogue before, during and after the event. We encourage you to try it! Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Sign up for Twitter. It just takes a minute.
  2. Follow neighborworks
  3. You can text your tweets directly from your mobile phone by going to Devices under Settings and adding your mobile phone.
  4. Include the hashtag #nti in your tweets.

Even if you don’t sign up for Twitter, you can still follow the dialogue by going to http://search.twitter.com/ and entering #nti. Using this hashtag will bring up the real time tweets related to the social media symposium.

Live blog
NeighborWorks has enlisted a couple of crafty folks to live blog from some of the symposium sessions. For the first time, those who can not attend the symposium will be able to follow the key highlights and discussion from the event. Just check the Social Media Symposium Blog next Wednesday to follow along.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why Are Loan Modifications Taking So Long?

As pressure increases on servicers to pick up the pace of loan modifications, many are wondering: What’s the problem?

NeighborWorks America, in its report to Congress on the National Foreclosure Mitigation Program, reported that more homeowners are being reached through counseling, but that servicers are taking as long as 45-60 days to do their part.

CNNMoney.com recently took a look at five reasons why the loan modification process is so slow. Michael van Zalingen, director of homeownership services for Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, a NeighborWorks member organization, weighed in on many servicers’ insistence on using a fax machine.

"It seems your stuff goes into a black hole," Zalingen told CNN. "It's archaic. Given all the problems we've had with lost faxes, it seems unreasonable to use a fax system."

See what else is on CNNMoney.com’s list of the “5 dumb reasons you can't get mortgage help.”

Monday, August 10, 2009

Neighbors Helping Neighbors: A Grassroots Group Seeks Small Gifts to End Local Foreclosures

A grassroots organization in Rock County, Wisconsin, has come up with a novel way to fight foreclosures in the area. The organization, called the John Doe Movement, is asking every Rock County homeowner to donate $10 a month to help tackle skyrocketing foreclosure rates and stabilize home values. The “Rescue America Project,” recently featured in the Janesville Gazette, aims to generate $10 million by the end of 2010. The money would be collected by the Beloit-based Stateline Community Foundation and directed to Neighborhood Housing Services in Beloit, Inc., a NeighborWorks America member organization, to help homeowners facing foreclosure modify the terms of their mortgage.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

In Tough Times, Success Measures Expands To Meet Growing Demand for Outcome Measurement

Community development organizations and their funders invest significant resources each year to prepare low- to moderate-income families for sustainable homeownership, to build stronger communities and improve quality of life for community residents.

But how do these organizations know that they are meeting their ultimate goals? How can organizations and their funders be assured that their investments are generating long-term impact?

In these tough economic times it is more important than ever to answer these questions. Because of the weak economy many nonprofits are struggling to survive as foundations and other philanthropic organizations tighten their belts and shrink their investments.

As a result, nonprofits are focusing on core programs and being more strategic about how their dollars are being used. Their funders are demanding more rigorous evaluation methods to determine which programs are making a measurable difference.

Some may argue that this economic downturn has reinforced the importance of measuring the impact of nonprofit programs. And for more than 10 years now, that’s exactly what NeighborWorks America’s Success Measures program has been doing.

Continue reading this feature on how Success Measures is expanding to meet the growing demand for outcome measurement.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

NeighborWorks Report Shows Hispanic Homeowners More Likely to Hold ARMs than Fixed Rate Mortgages

Today NeighborWorks America, the administrator of the Congressionally authorized National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) program, announced that of the more than 363,000 homeowners who received foreclosure prevention counseling as a result of NFMC funding through March 31, 2009, 21 percent were Hispanic homeowners, nearly twice their representation of total homeowners. In all, 53 percent of NFMC Program clients were minority homeowners, or more than twice the overall percentage of minority homeowners.

The data reported today are part of the third NFMC report distributed to Congress in June 2009, and are based on client information provided from more than 1,700 HUD-approved housing counseling intermediaries, state housing finance agencies, and nonprofit housing counseling agencies that received NFMC funding through March 31, 2009. As of June 30, 2009, more than 540,000 homeowners have received foreclosure prevention counseling as a result of NFMC funding.

Nationwide, Hispanic homeowners make up only 11 percent of the nation’s homeowners, according to industry studies. Twenty-four percent of the nation’s homeowners are racial/ethnic minorities, with African American homeowners accounting for 9 percent, and Asian/Pacific Islanders accounting for 4 percent.

Also according to the NeighborWorks America NFMC report, Hispanic clients who sought foreclosure prevention counseling were the only group of homeowners more likely to hold adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) than fixed rate mortgages. Forty-seven percent of Hispanic NFMC clients held ARMs, and 41 percent held fixed rate mortgages. Nationwide, only 18 percent of outstanding mortgages are ARMs.

All other NFMC clients were more likely to hold fixed rate mortgages than ARMs. Fifty-one percent of African American clients held fixed rate mortgages, and 38 percent held ARMs. Like African American NFMC clients, White NFMC clients were more likely to hold fixed rate mortgages (59 percent) than ARMs (31 percent).

For more information about the NFMC Program, visit www.nw.org/nfmc.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

NeighborWorks' Marietta Rodriguez Calls for Servicers to Compensate Counselors

Mortgage foreclosures are continuing to increase, but recently many of the country's largest mortgage servicers -- the companies that homeowners mail their monthly payments to and the firms responsible for making loan modifications -- sat down with government officials to improve things.

NeighborWorks America's Marietta Rodriguez, director for Homeownership and Lending, told National Public Radio's Marketplace program, what she thought mortgage servicers should be doing better to help families stay in their homes.

Marietta outlines some basic improvements that servicers need to make such as increasing communication back and forth between the borrower, the counselor working with them and more standardization. She noted that forms to process a loan modification are lost by servicers and that the homeowner, already under stress, has to fill the documents out multiple times in some cases. That fact is illustrated by reports from counselors who are part of the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling program.

According to Marietta, counselors are working very hard to get borrowers in trouble to work with their servicers and that work is making the servicer's job easier. As a result, in comments edited out of the Marketplace interview, Marietta said that the servicing industry needs to begin compensating counselors for this work that is saving the mortgage industry time and money.

"Counselors provide a real, tangible benefit to servicers just like any other professional like lawyers and title companies. Counselors should be compensated for this work."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Resource for Planning and Implementing an REO Program Released

for sale. Bank ownedThe current economic climate has drawn attention to the issue of Real Estate Owned (REO) properties, with tens of thousands of foreclosed properties appearing in our communities.

Affordable housing practitioners and community development organizations are looking for ways to handle these properties, which are often left vacant and vulnerable to vandals and the elements. When properties deteriorate, neighborhoods undergo stress and destabilization, and there's a lost opportunity to match properties with lower-income families.


In addition to a growing number of courses focused on the acquisition, management and sale of REO properties, as well as classes on stabilizing neighborhoods and helping prospective homeowners purchase foreclosed properties, NeighborWorks America is pleased to offer a free, half-hour webinar that guides boards, executive directors and other key decision-makers in planning and implementing a REO program. The webinar can be viewed here, and note that there is a link at the end for a printed copy with speaker's notes.