Housing will do more than lead us out of our economic doldrums
Written by Roy Nash, President & C.E.O.. Monday, 15 April 2013 00:00
According to national news reports, demand for housing is rising — and housing prices along with it. That’s good news for homebuilders and the overall economy, but it’s important to put those reports into context, especially when it comes to the lower end of the housing market, where people are struggling to find a home.
At nonprofit NeighborWorks Waco, where we work to build stronger neighborhoods through homeownership and other quality housing opportunities, the comeback that we’re seeing in housing still has a long way to go.
Five years ago we were building 22 houses per year; last year, we built two, and this year we’re building seven. These single-family homes are designed to be affordable — with a price between $80,000 and $110,000 – each with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a brick exterior.
Low-income buyers still have not come back into the marketplace. That’s partly because of tighter credit standards and the need for larger down payments, but it also reflects a lack of long-term confidence in the job market and a fear that buying a home, if one is laid off, could lead to foreclosure.
In our experience at NeighborWorks Waco, where we’re heavily involved in credit counseling, financial literacy and homebuyer education, most people who have gone into foreclosure first suffered a loss of income — primarily loss of a job — or an increase in expenses from a health condition or a divorce. Ballooning mortgage payments were a much smaller factor overall.
In counseling potential first-time homeowners, our primary concern is that they make a financially responsible decision. For many people, renting makes more sense.
Yet homeownership has benefits for both homeowners and the broader community that renting does not provide. That’s why the availability of housing that is affordable to those with low incomes is so important.
Homeownership, for instance, is typically the best way to build wealth over time — to create an asset that can be passed on to the next generation. Homeownership also leads to the improvement of properties in a way that renting does not. No matter how responsible a renter is, a renter rarely improves the landlord’s property.
For a homeowner, home is both a place of pride and a place whose value can typically be increased by improving its condition. Homeowners also relate to their neighbors and neighborhood differently because they share a financial stake in that neighborhood. That stake depends on one another.
Whether owned or rented, however, stable affordable housing is crucial to any community’s well-being. It’s crucial to the performance of the school system, because children in stable homes learn and achieve more in school. It’s essential to public health because healthy habits take root more easily there, and it’s vital to public safety because stable homes make communities safer.
That’s why I was pleased to be in Washington, D.C., last month to join leaders of nearly 200 housing and community development organizations from across the nation to launch a movement called Home Matters (www.HomeMattersAmerica.com). It’s a unique national initiative that aims to unite America around the essential role that a home plays as the bedrock for thriving lives, families and a stronger nation. The launch was spearheaded by the National NeighborWorks Association, of which NeighborWorks Waco is a member, with crucial support from Citi Community Development and Wells Fargo.
Also participating in the launch of Home Matters were Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan and a bipartisan group of members of Congress representing a broad political spectrum. Their presence — even in a polarized Capitol — underscored that Home Matters no matter what your political beliefs.
Housing must lead our economic recovery because it has so much impact on the economy. As the housing market improves, however, we must ensure that it offers opportunities at all economic levels — not for irresponsible borrowing but for responsible borrowing at all levels of affordability.
The key is affordability, and that key opens the door not only to stable housing for individuals but to community improvement. The more people can afford stable housing, the better off Waco will be.
Spring 2013 Newsletter
Written by Administrator Monday, 08 April 2013 00:00
Please click here to check out the Spring 2013 Newsletter from NeighborWorks Waco!
You can also subscribe to our newsletter here: http://www.nw-waco.org/newsletter/
NeighborWorks Waco Joins Coast-to-Coast Coalition in Announcing Launch of Home Matters
Written by Administrator Tuesday, 12 March 2013 00:00
Unique National Initiative Aims to Unite America Around the Essential Role that Home Plays as the Bedrock for Thriving Lives, Families, and a Stronger Nation
WACO, TX – March 12, 2013 – NeighborWorks Waco is part of a coast-to-coast coalition that launched a unique national initiative called Home Matters™ in Washington, DC today. The initiative aims to unite America around the essential role that Home plays as the bedrock for thriving lives, families, and a stronger nation.
Home Matters emerged from a growing coalition of housing and community development organizations across the country whose leaders believe that the importance of Home, as a core building block for America, is not sufficiently recognized. The coalition includes regional and local organizations providing housing and related services in 26 states – from California to Vermont, Florida to Washington – as well as national entities like the National NeighborWorks® Association, Citi Community Development, and Wells Fargo. NeighborWorks Waco is a member of National NeighborWorks Association.
As it grows, Home Matters will go beyond housing and illuminate the connections between stable housing and other important facets of American life such as:
Individual Success: Home recharges adults and children alike for the day ahead.
Education: Children in stable homes learn and achiever more in school.
Health: Healthy habits take root more easily in stable affordable homes.
Public Safety: Stable homes make communities safer.
A Strong Economy: Homes that are more affordable are crucial to a vibrant job-generating economy.
The launch took place on Capitol Hill with hundreds of leaders of housing and community development organizations gathered from all over the nation.
Launch events, which continue today and tomorrow, include a keynote address by U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan and a gathering at the U.S. Senate with Members of Congress.
“Home is fundamental to the strength of our nation,” said NNA Executive Director Dave Brown. “It’s at the core of having strong families, schools, neighborhoods, and an effective workforce for the 21st century. That’s why it’s so important that its role be understood.”
In raising public awareness of the importance of Home, Home Matters will do the following: educate, highlighting the benefits of Home; collaborate, bringing disparate organizations and industries together; engage, rallying local leaders and mobilizing the public; advocate, encouraging policymakers to protect and support Home and related initiatives; support, raising funds and increasing investments to sustain the work that makes Home a reality for more Americans; and, celebrate, promoting and honoring the extraordinary impact of Home.
More information on Home Matters is available at www.HomeMattersAmerica.com.
NeighborWorks® Waco and Community Partners to Host Second Annual "Art on Elm Avenue" Event
Written by Administrator Monday, 25 February 2013 22:38
WACO, TX – NeighborWorks Waco and its community partners are pleased to announce the Second Annual Art on Elm Avenue featuring live music, an art exhibition, craft and food vendors, plus much more.
After success with last year’s inaugural Art on Elm Avenue exhibition, many in the community see this as an opportunity for East Waco to thrive and to show its artistic side. The event will take place on Saturday, April 13 between 10 a.m.. and 3 p.m. at the corner of Elm Avenue and Dallas Street near the location of Lula Jane’s, the bakery which opened in October.
“We are so excited to see the community come together again and celebrate what Art on Elm Avenue has to offer,” said Honey Jenkins, Director of Marketing, Communication and Information Technology at NeighborWorks Waco. “There will be everything there including live bands, local art for sale, children’s crafts and tons of food. It will be hours of fun for everyone and it’s free!” for East Waco to thrive and to show its artistic side. The event will take place on Saturday, April 13 between 10 a.m.. and 3 p.m. at the corner of Elm Avenue and Dallas Street near the location of Lula Jane’s, the bakery which opened in October.
Art on Elm Avenue is free to the public and aims to raise awareness about the cultural side of East Waco. The community partners hope that the event might help investors and artists consider purchasing or leasing the surrounding buildings for use as commercial or studio spaces.
For more information about this event, artist submission details and forms, reserving a vendor booth space for food or handmade craft/retail materials, or if you would like to volunteer, please visit www.artonelmavenue.com for more information.
NeighborWorks Waco Hosts Loan Modification Scam Forum
Written by Honey Jenkins Tuesday, 04 December 2012 17:48
Waco, TX– On Tuesday, December 4, NeighborWorks Waco hosted a Loan Modification Scam Alert Forum that showcased the problem of loan modification and foreclosure rescue scams and the resources that are available to combat them. With headlines and ads touting the new payments to borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure as part of the national Mortgage Settlement consumers might find a new twist to loan or foreclosure rescue scams. NeighborWorks Waco and other government partners want to remind consumers to be cautious of potential scams.
“Even though the current foreclosure crises seems to be tapering off,” Roy Nash, President and CEO of NeighborWorks Waco said, “there are still plenty of scammers lurking around trying to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. Housing counselors are available from non-profit organizations, like NeighborWorks Waco, who can assist consumers in applying for various remedies.”
Speakers at the event included: Todd Mark , Vice President of Education Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Greater Dallas; Jo Ann DePenning, Co-Chair of the Texas Foreclosure Prevention Task Force; and Andrew Leonie, Assistant Attorney General Dallas Regional Managing Attorney Consumer Protection Division
Speakers cited several typical scams:
- A company “guarantees” it can save the home
- A company asks for a fee up front for the promise that it will prevent or stop foreclosure, or obtain a loan modification, secure mortgage settlement funds or speed up any settlement funds
- A company asks for a fee up front to obtain mortgage settlement funds or speed up the time frame for any settlement funds
- A company tells the consumer to sign documents which will transfer title to the home, often with a lease or option to buy it back
- A company tells the consumer to stop making payments to mortgage company
All the speakers encouraged audience participants to spread the word, and to encourage reporting of these scams in order to keep others from being victimized.
The NeighborWorks Waco event is part of a nationwide Loan Modification Scam Alert campaign, funded by Congress and coordinated by NeighborWorks America. Local partners include the Texas Foreclosure Prevention Task Force and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
- To report a scam at any time, call 1-888-995-HOPE.
- For more information about the national campaign, visit www.LoanScamAlert.org.
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