Thursday, November 10, 2011

NeighborWorks America Assists New Orleans in Launching a $52 Million First Time Homebuyer Initiative

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

NeighborWorks America’s Southern District is providing technical assistance to the City of New Orleans’ Office of Community Development to execute a $52.3 million soft second mortgage homebuyer assistance initiative that will provide hundreds of New Orleans families an opportunity to become homeowners. The initiative is designed to strategically promote homeownership opportunities for low and moderate income residents and families who are buying their first homes.

“We know that promoting and incentivizing homeownership is key in revitalizing our neighborhoods across the city,” said Mayor Landrieu at a press conference announcing the program on October 27. “This program will put Hurricane Katrina recovery dollars to use for their intended purpose – helping the citizens of New Orleans rebuild their lives and neighborhoods post-Katrina. It will also reduce blight and stimulate the local economy.”

Mayor Landrieu said that this has truly been a partnership between the public, private, faith-based and nonprofit sectors. He thanked all partners, including NeighborWorks America, for their role in getting the program up and running.

Southern District Senior Program Coordinator Donna Tally, under the leadership of District Director Donald Phoenix, created a partnership with City of New Orleans’s Director of Housing Policy Brian Lawlor to provide technical assistance for this initiative. NeighborWorks worked with the city’s staff to design, develop, and deliver the program, providing technical assistance to develop the underwriting criteria, the mechanics required to run the program, and the training for local lender partners.

“This is a great example of the power of partnership,” said Tally. “Mayor Mitch Landrieu put the right people together and things started happening. NeighborWorks America is proud to be part of the team that designed and delivered this program because our investment will pay exponential dividends for families and communities across the Crescent City.”

“The investment of these funds will help neighborhoods in New Orleans reach a tipping point in sustainability as the recovery continues,” said Phoenix. “NeighborWorks America’s Southern District is honored to play an instrumental role in the delivery of this program, the largest of its kind in the City of New Orleans. We look forward to an ongoing partnership with Mayor Landrieu and the City of New Orleans.”

The press conference announcing the soft second homebuyer initiative is available for viewing on YouTube.

A Glimpse Into the World of Community Development

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

Careers in Community Development

Can't see the video plug in above? View it here: 

The Beginning of My Journey in Community Development
By Nicholas Salerno
NeighborWorks America

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

I spent six months in Granada, Spain where I studied the Spanish culture and language. The original purpose of this experience was to learn the language and to minor in Spanish (for my resume). It ended up doing that but it also helped me learn more about myself. I came back to the States with new ideas and perspectives about myself and my own culture through new eyes. I planned on taking these new skills and knowledge and focus on issues we had domestically rather than continue my efforts internationally.

Through my new lenses, I noticed the racial tension that was in my community on the Southside of Chicago. I saw this as opportunity for myself to start a dialogue with residents at local nonprofits, food shelters and other organizations in the Chicagoland area to understand what is really happening. After gaining a better perspective, I realized that I did not have the tools needed in order to solve any problems or deepen the dialogue to a point where action could be put in place, so I decided to go back to school.

I’m currently completing my masters in Sustainable Development with a focus on community development and social action while working at NeighborWorks America. It is the first time in my life I feel passionate because the work I do is meaningful. I want to live in a community that is happy, safe and healthy.