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