Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Down Payment Programs Boost Neighborhood Stabilization Efforts

By Marietta Rodriguez
Deputy Director of
National Homeownership
Programs & Lending
There are many steps to rebuild neighborhoods decimated by the foreclosure crisis, but an essential step is to get homeowners back to living in the homes that tragically were lost to foreclosure. NeighborWorks America believes that if new homeowners begin moving into many of the homes in neighborhoods hardest hit by foreclosure, neighborhood stabilization will happen more quickly for those housing markets. 

Toward that objective, NeighborWorks America has focused its energy and expertise to support the targeted use of down payment assistance to help buyers afford a home, while simultaneously providing the  homebuyer education that we believe helps ensure that buyers get the right home, the right mortgage and the fullest understanding of the costs of being a homeowner for sustainable homeownership.

The initiative that we're behind is called NeighborhoodLIFTSM,  an alliance between NeighborWorks America, Wells Fargo and Company, and local members of the NeighborWorks network, which was recently featured in American Banker and noted in the Chicago Tribune.

NeighborWorks America has been helping the NeighborWorks network to fund down payment assistance programs for years, and we’ve been consistent in linking down payment help with homebuyer education. In fact, in 2011 the NeighborWorks network provided homebuyer education to more than  39,769 households.  Low down payment and down payment assistance programs did not create the housing crisis, that much we know for sure. But some analysts of the housing crisis think otherwise and that has made many lenders skittish about the viability of down payment assistance programs.

Wells Fargo demonstrated leadership in developing NeighborhoodLIFT, and by expressing confidence in the effectiveness of homebuyer education and down payment assistance to help homebuyers make the kind of choices that lead to long-term homeownership success.

Homebuyer education is key component of the homeownership philosophy of NeighborWorks America and  homeownership is a big part of our neighborhood stabilization strategies.

Although mortgage rates are close to all-time lows, many potential homebuyers remain on the sidelines without the down payment that they need, or the information that would make them comfortable purchasing a home in a neighborhood with few “bumps and bruises”. As recent news articles have said, NeighborhoodLIFT helps on both fronts.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Homeownership Video Contest Winners

Last month $5,000 in prizes were awarded at the Reclaiming the Vision of Homeownership Symposium in Los Angeles to video contest winners.Three videos were selected out of the many submissions sent in to NeighborWorks America. The winners are all so different and were chosen because of their originality and creativity showing the meaning of homeownership.

The video contest was designed to provide an opportunity for nonprofit housing counseling agencies to creatively portray, through the use of video, what homeownership has meant to the customers they have served in the past, or the dream it represents to customers they are currently serving.

Congratulations to the Winners

First Place: Summit Combined Housing Authority in  Breckenridge,CO
Hope for a Home in the High Country.
Second Place: Native American Youth and Family Center in Portland,OR
Sharing Our Stories of Home. 

Third Place: Tabor Community Services in Lancaster, PA
Homeownership 2012.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Board Chair Thomas Curry Visits Foundation Communities Apartments, Learning Center

By Celine Thomasson
NeighborWorks America
Rocky Mountain District
NeighborWorks America Chairman of the Board Thomas Curry took time out of his demanding schedule as Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation director to visit Peter's Colony, a 160 unit apartment community in Carrollton, Texas.  Peter's Colony is owned by Foundation Communities, a member of the NeighborWorks Network.

Director Curry visited the apartment of resident Angela Carter and stopped by one of the children’s programs offered at their on-site Learning Center.  Foundation Communities Executive Director Walter Moreau gave the history of the community which was purchased in 1995 by Foundation Communities from the Resolution Trust Corporation.

The 30- year-old apartments are well kept through renovation and weatherization work. NeighborWorks America grants helped with construction of the on-site Learning Center. Rosa Rios Valdez, CEO of Business & Community Lenders of Texas, also participated in the tour and was able to share many of her experiences as a member of the NeighborWorks Network with Director Curry. Valdez talked about the importance of community banks and BCL of Texas’s work in rural communities.

Although time did not permit a visit to the BCL of Texas NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center in Dallas, Jan McNerney, director of Homeownership at BCL, spoke about their important work in homeownership and foreclosure prevention throughout the Dallas and Ft.Worth areas.

"It was a privilege to have the gift of Director Curry’s time to visit with residents, children and the NeighborWorks organizations executive directors," said Gary Wolfe, Rocky Mountain district director. "It speaks volumes to his dedication to NeighborWorks America."  
 From left to right: FDIC, Deputy Director Kenyon Kilber; Foundation Communities, Executive Director Walter Moreau; BCL of Texas, Director of Homeownership Jan McNerney; NeighborWorks America, Rocky Mountain District Director Gary Wolfe; Foundation Communities, Director of Programs Julian Huerta; BCL of Texas, CEORosa Rios Valdez; FDIC, Director Thomas Curry;  Peter’s Colony Resident Services Coordinator Tamyra Belo and Lori Lozano.