Wednesday, January 30, 2013

NHS of Greater Cleveland: A Port in the Foreclosure Storm

This blog is part of our 35th Anniversary Celebration series, highlighting NeighborWorks affiliates which are celebrating milestone years marking either their membership in the network or their incorporation as an organization. This month, NHSGC is celebrating 15 years since incorporation. 

By Brittany Hutson, NeighborWorks
America Public Relations fellow

The 2008 housing crisis caused many to wonder if buying a home could still be considered the "American dream." In spite of all the uncertainty about the housing market, Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland, Inc. (NHSGC) has remained steadfast in its mission to assist their clients in becoming homeowners. “A lot of people will say Cleveland and Slavic Village was the epicenter of foreclosure, mortgage fraud, flipping, etc.,” says Executive Director Lou Tisler. “But it was also the epicenter for solution based programs for the foreclosure crisis.”

Tisler says that the foreclosure crisis gave NHSGC an opportunity to prove their value and leadership and that the crisis required the organization to be more flexible and creative. The organization was selected for the Ohio Foreclosure Prevention Task Force, accumulated nearly $5.6 million to assist people in need with the NeighborWorks Collaborative of Ohio, and provided testimony at congressional hearings.

Dave Wilson came to NHSGC to avoid foreclosure. He had
suffered an injury and struggled to make ends meet. By working with
NHSGC, Wilson was able to get an affordable loan modification.
This month, the Cleveland, Ohio organization celebrates 15 years as part of the NeighborWorks network.  NHSGC offers a number of programs to “help people get, fix and keep their homes,” says Tisler. These programs include a homebuyer education program, a down payment assistance program, providing rehab loans to those who cannot get lending from traditional banks, a sustainability program that focuses on foreclosure prevention and intervention; mortgage counseling; and EnergYOU, which helps clients and residents conserve their budgets for utilities and food costs. The organization serves primarily low-to-moderate income people, as well as people with moderate-to-high income that seek foreclosure prevention assistance. “Our clients are usually underserved, under-banked and under-represented in the housing market,” says Tisler. The organization serves up to 3,500 people per year.

Raylene Hood reached out to NHSGC for assistance in saving her home. A
NHSGC counselor helped her apply for rescue funds to bring her mortgage current.
NHSGC also helped Hood when she needed emergency repairs on her roof.
Though NHSGC has seen its fair share of challenges in home equity, lack of access to capital, and limited lending, Tisler praises his staff of 16 for their motivation and commitment to serving the organization’s targeted community. “The staff [has been] the greatest asset to the organization,” says Tisler. “Our staff has gotten us to a solution based delivery system. To see them come in everyday and make what they do happen is incredible.”

In addition to the staff, Tisler says that being a part of the NeighborWorks network is “an incredible, valuable asset for the organization and the people we serve.” He adds, “As a network member, NHSGC has access to best practices and funding, and can share experiences and ideas with other network organizations. It is truly a network of excellence.”