Thursday, January 28, 2010

NeighborWorks Offers Homeowners Energy-Saving Tips for Your Home and Family

As the seasons change, it pays to be more energy efficient, which is why NeighborWorks America is now offering homeowners tips to improve the way your home and family use energy.

From simple tasks like turning out lights not in use and meal planning, to installing ceiling fans and storm doors, NeighborWorks outlines ways your home and your family can become more energy efficient and save money in the long run.

Download the tip sheet.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Actions to Protect Foreclosed Homes From Deteriorating Your Neighborhood

Vacant or foreclosed homes can diminish an area's quality. As they deteriorate from neglect, these homes become eye sores that drag down the property value of other homes in the neighborhood.

In an article appearing in Yahoo Finance, NeighborWorks America says there's danger in doing nothing. Several measures that individuals and communities can take to stabilize their neighborhoods and protect property values are laid out in this article.

Let us know some of the things you or your neighbors are doing to safeguard and invest in your neighborhood. Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Monday, January 25, 2010

CNN Feature Demonstrates Importance of NeighborWorks Counseling

According to the IRS, 1.4 million people have taken advantage of the homebuyer tax credit, and Valatisha Jacinto, a Waco, Texas school teacher, was one of them. Jacinto and the credit counseling she received from NeighborWorks Waco were featured in a article on how the homebuyer tax credit has helped individuals buy a home.

NeighborWorks America supports the homebuyer tax credit and urges all homebuyers to seek homeownership education from a HUD-approved nonprofit organization — like NeighborWorks Waco — before purchasing a home. Jacinto’s story demonstrates the importance of this counseling. By working with NeighborWorks Waco to clean up her credit, Jacinto was ready to take advantage of the homebuyer tax credit when it was announced last February. She now owns an affordable three-bedroom, two-bath home, which she purchased with a 4.9 percent FHA-insured 30-year loan.

The tax credit was set to expire in December 2009, but it was expanded and extended through April 30, 2010 so more individuals could take advantage of the program.

Friday, January 22, 2010

NeighborWorks’ Achieving Excellence Program Named Finalist for National Housing Conference “Pioneering Housing Strategies” Award

Today NeighborWorks, the nation’s leading trainer of community development professionals, announced that its Achieving Excellence program was named a finalist for the National Housing Conference’s “Pioneering Housing Strategies” award. The award acknowledges forward-thinking strategies that are changing the way the industry approaches affordable housing and community development initiatives.

“We are delighted the National Housing Conference has recognized the NeighborWorks Achieving Excellence program. Achieving Excellence is an innovative organizational investment program that transforms the way community development nonprofits do business. As a result, nonprofits are better equipped to increase the availability of quality affordable housing, stem the tide of foreclosures, and revitalize communities,” said Ken Wade, CEO of NeighborWorks America.

NeighborWorks is currently accepting applications from nonprofit leaders for the 2010-2011 Achieving Excellence class. The application deadline for the Achieving Excellence program is March 15, 2010. Applications, as well as additional program information, are available online at

Thursday, January 21, 2010

NeighborWorks America COO Eileen Fitzgerald Urges Homeowners to Watch Out for Loan Modification Scams

In an interview with nationally syndicated Home and Family Finance Radio, NeighborWorks America COO Eileen Fitzgerald talked about a growing problem across the country: homeowners facing foreclosure losing their money and their homes to loan modification scams.

She urged homeowners to be cautious about whom they go to for help when facing foreclosure and described some of the warning signs that a scam may be taking place. Fitzgerald directed homeowners to, the Web site of a national campaign that Congress asked NeighborWorks America to launch to raise awareness of this national problem. She also said homeowners in trouble can find free, trusted help by going to to locate a HUD-approved housing counselor.

Listen to the interview here. It is the first Home and Family Finance podcast listed and the segment starts about 10 minutes into the broadcast.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

FHA Announces Policy Changes

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner David Stevens today announced a set of policy changes to strengthen the FHA’s capital reserves, while enabling the agency to continue to fulfill its mission to provide access to homeownership for underserved communities. The changes announced today are the latest in a series of changes Stevens has enacted in order to better position the FHA to manage its risk while continuing to support the nation’s housing market recovery.

The FHA will propose to take the following steps: increase the mortgage insurance premium (MIP); update the combination of FICO scores and down payments for new borrowers; reduce seller concessions to three percent, from six percent; and implement a series of significant measures aimed at increasing lender enforcement. Source: HUD

Friday, January 15, 2010

NeighborWorks Congratulates Its Local Organizations on Stabilization Funding

Today NeighborWorks America announced that 19 local NeighborWorks organizations, along with their local, regional, and state partners, were awarded $548,381,663, or 27 percent of the total $1.93 billion awarded in the second round of Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The NeighborWorks organizations received the funding as part of consortium partnerships with state and local government offices, the private sector, and other nonprofits in their communities, and will build on the stabilization efforts already underway in many communities. Stabilization efforts include acquisition, rehabilitation or demolition of vacant or abandoned foreclosed properties, and/or financial assistance to low- to middle-income homebuyers to purchase foreclosed properties.

For more information about the grants and the organizations that received them, please visit the NeighborWorks newsroom or

Champlain Housing Trust to Bring Solar Water Heaters to Affordable Rental Properties

About 1,000 families in Vermont will benefit from an energy saving solar water project announced on Jan. 13 by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in cooperation with NeighborWorks chartered member Champlain Housing Trust. Senator Sanders launched the project at the Champlain Housing Trust's Salmon Run Apartments, one of the four affordable rental developments that will be part of this project.

According to Senator Sanders, the $500,000 project is the largest of its kind in the state. The grant, secured from the U.S. Department of Energy, will put solar equipment in 80 apartments in Salmon Run. It will also help finance installation of water heaters in 322 more apartments at three other affordable housing developments in Vermont. The grant will be matched by $700,000 in additional public and private funds, according to Senator Sanders.

Learn more.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Top 10 Tips to Help Avoid Foreclosure and Loan Modification Scams in 2010

At a time when many Americans are considering new resolutions and life changes, staying financially vigilant should remain a priority—especially for homeowners. During 2010, an estimated 4 million households are expected to face the risk of foreclosure. Millions of homeowners will try to reduce their mortgage payments with a loan modification.

The national Loan Modification Scam Alert campaign has put together 10 tips to help homeowners seeking foreclosure prevention assistance this year:

1. Contact your lender first as soon as you get concerned about paying your mortgage.

2. Determine your options by speaking to your lender's loss mitigation department.

3. Be patient but persistent with your lender, because getting a loan modification takes time.

4. Call the Homeowner's HOPE Hotline at 1-888-995-HOPE. Trained counselors are available 24 hours a day to provide assistance in multiple languages.

5. Connect with a local HUD-approved counseling agency for free by calling 1-888-995-HOPE or visiting

6. Beware of loan modification scams. Some companies and individuals are out to take advantage of homeowners seeking loan modifications.

7. Avoid anyone who asks for a fee prior to providing any loan modification service, including companies, individuals and even some lawyers.

8. Avoid anyone who guarantees to get your loan modified or stop a foreclosure, because nobody has the power to make this promise.

9. Avoid companies that tell you to stop paying your mortgage and to pay them instead. This is a sure sign of a loan modification scam.

10. Report loan modification or foreclosure scams at any time by visiting or calling 1-888-995-HOPE (4673).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

NeighborWorks Member Receives $3.8 Million for Green Jobs Training

The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded NeighborWorks member Community Housing Partners (CHP) $3.8 million to teach workers the skills required in emerging energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. The grant is part of nearly $100 million being allocated by the Department of Labor to 25 projects across the nation.

CHP, which is based in Christianburg, VA, is the lead applicant and grant administrator for a collaborative partnership in the region called CREATES — Construction, Retrofitting and Energy-Efficiency Assessment Training and Employment Systems. The partners include Virginia Tech, NewVA Corridor Technology Council, New River Community College, Wytheville Community College, Virginia Western Community College, New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Investment Board, and the Western Virginia Workforce Development Board.

Together, the partners will use the funds to upgrade regional training capacities, develop and implement new curriculum components, offer appropriate energy conservation certification opportunities, and provide preferred education to upgrade the skills of construction and retrofitting industry workers in order to help them compete in cutting-edge green building occupations.

"Today's announcement is part of the administration's long-term commitment to fostering both immediate economic revitalization and a clean energy future. It's an investment that will help American workers succeed while doing good," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis on January 6, when the announcement was made. "Our outstanding award recipients were selected because their proposed projects will connect workers to career pathways in green industries and occupations through critical, diverse partnerships."

“This important funding will lead program participants to job placement while also promoting smart, sustainable energy use that will have a positive long-term impact for generations to come,” said CHP’s President and CEO Janaka Casper.

Read CHP’s news release.

Read local coverage.

Monday, January 11, 2010

NeighborWorks Accepting Applications for Achieving Excellence Program

NeighborWorks America, the nation’s leading trainer of community development professionals, is now accepting applications for the 2010-2011 class of its renowned NeighborWorks Achieving Excellence in Community Development program.

Achieving Excellence is a comprehensive organizational development program that results in senior managers at local nonprofit organizations that are better equipped to address the critical challenges faced by their organizations, produce real results in their communities, enhance fundraising capacity even in tough economic climates, and foster collaboration and innovation inside the nonprofit sector.

Participants in the past four classes – 180 leaders from every region in the U.S. who participated in Achieving Excellence classes since the program began in 2002 – report significant improvement in their businesses and improved service to even more people.

For example, leaders who finished the third class in February 2008 reported a 146 percent increase in people served, or more than 53,000 community members across America, specifically because of their participation in the program.

Moreover, the participating organizations attribute a 32 percent increase in the number of affordable housing units developed, or more than 1,100 new affordable homes, to the skills learned and the strategic plans developed while in the Achieving Excellence program.

The application deadline for the Achieving Excellence program is March 15, 2010. Applications, as well as additional program information, are available online at

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Volunteer in New Orleans and Enhance your NeighborWorks Training Institute Experience!

As part of the NeighborWorks Training Institute in New Orleans, Louisiana, we’re offering participants a unique and meaningful opportunity to play a role in the continuing restoration of neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

The institute takes place March 1-5, and around that time we are encouraging participants to volunteer on days on which they may not otherwise be attending classes. Opportunities are available on Sunday, February 28, before the Institute, as well as on Wednesday, March 3 and Thursday, March 4.

On those days, volunteers will be divided into teams to work on houses in various forms of completion. Volunteers do not need to be skilled in construction to participate — there will be jobs for everyone, from landscaping and hardscaping to painting and other rehab work, both inside and out.

Registration to volunteer is separate from registration to attend the NTI. Find out more here. We hope you will consider participating in this exciting and rewarding opportunity!

Learn more about the NeighborWorks Training Institute in New Orleans.

Sign up for the Symposium, Investing for Change: Leveraging Community Assets in Rural and Small Cities.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What’s Your Resolution for Your Community in 2010?

2009 was unquestionably a tough year for our economy and our nation’s communities. Foreclosure rates surged and vacant properties have littered our neighborhoods. Through it all, we have seen communities band together to meet these seemingly insurmountable challenges. As 2010 begins, many of the problems – and solutions – of 2009 are still with us, and we are resolving to work harder, smarter and more collaboratively to help rebuild, renew and sustain America's communities. If you were to make a new year’s resolution for your communities, what would it be? Please share your thoughts by commenting below or posting to our wall on Facebook, where others are sharing their new year’s resolutions for their communities.