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9/30/2003
Author(s)/Creator(s): Catherine Fernandez
Community development organizations must be increasingly cognizant of and responsive to their changing neighborhoods. Major demographic factors related to the growth and influx of recent immigrants to the United States are having a notable impact on many communities. Through a review of current research and interviews with leading experts and practitioners of community development organizations, private lenders and governmental agencies, this analysis explores (1) the importance of immigrants in community development, (2) the response of community development organizations to recent demographic shifts, and (3) the challenges and opportunities practitioners face when connecting immigrants to their communities. Despite growing research about the implications of immigrant markets for the private sector, there is little research about the role and contributions of community development organizations in the integration of new immigrants. Immigration trends and characteristics are different today than those of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This research concludes that these new demographics drive much of the dynamic change in cities across the United States. CDOs can best address the changes at the local level, but need more data and market analysis of neighborhood trends. These organizations are in a key position to connect newcomers not only to long-term housing, but also to business development, jobs and leadership opportunities through strategic partnerships and planning.

9/23/2003
Author(s)/Creator(s): Roberto G. Quercia, William M. Rohe
The benefits of owning versus renting a home have been extolled by policy makers for many years, and there is substantial recent research to support those views. Yet the research supporting these claims largely has been conducted on general samples of homeowners. Low- and moderate-income homeowners may have a different experience due to difficulties in keeping up with housing-related payments or a difference in the quality of the homes being purchased. A major objective of this report is to assess the impacts of home ownership on a sample of low- and moderate-income homebuyers. We also know very little about the experience of lower-income homebuyers after they purchase their homes. To what extent do low-income homebuyers experience unexpected costs associated with maintenance or repairs? What proportion of low-income buyers take out home equity loans and what do they use the funds for? What proportion of low-income homebuyers default on their loans? What do buyers feel are the greatest advantages and challenges to owning a home? Answers to these questions may provide insight into how prospective lower-income homebuyers can be better prepared for home ownership. The research described in this report involved a sample of persons who graduated from home-ownership classes taught by eight NeighborWorks organizations that participated in the Neighborhood Reinvestment Homeownership Pilot program. Neighborhood Reinvestment has encouraged its affiliated NeighborWorks organizations to offer services designed to increase access to home ownership among low- and moderate-income families. Building on Neighborhood Reinvestment's Campaign for Home Ownership, the Homeownership Pilot program was designed to assist low- and moderate-income households to obtain home ownership by providing them with counseling, down-payment assistance and affordable loans. This report is the third of three reports on the implementation, outcomes and impacts of the Homeownership Pilot program. The first report, entitled An Assessment of Neighborhood Reinvestment's Homeownership Pilot Program: A Preliminary Report (2000), covered the early implementation of the Pilot. The second report, entitled Supporting the American Dream of Home Ownership: An Assessment of Neighborhood Reinvestment's Homeownership Pilot Program (2002), covers the outcomes of the Homeownership Pilot, including the number of persons counseled and new homebuyers assisted. This final report was designed to: 1. Assess the proportion of customers trained by NeighborWorks organizations who go on to buy homes, as well as the factors that predict who among those graduating from the homeownership training go on to buy homes and who do not. 2. Assess both the social and financial impacts of buying a home on the program participants. 3. Assess the postpurchase experience of low-income homebuyers. 4. Assess the loan repayment experience of a sample of the affordable loans held by Neighborhood Housing Services of America (NHSA). 5. Assess changes in the Pilot program target areas before, during and after the Pilot program was in effect.

5/31/2003
The report explores the challenges of rural development and the ways in which practitioners, in particular, might address these challenges through strategic policy development and implementation.

3/2/2003
This paper provides case studies showing that credit union partnerships with NeighborWorks organizations can contribute to building healthy communities. This is because credit unions and NeighborWorks organizations benefit from leveraging the human, physical, structural and financial assets that each has to offer while community members benefit from access to affordable financial products and services.

9/30/2002
Author(s)/Creator(s): Alastair Smith
This paper examines the rationale for mixed-income approaches to affordable housing development, as well as the record of such developments in meeting their objectives, from the perspective of housing developers and those responsible for designing housing programs and policies. The drivers of the recent, renewed emphasis on a mixed-income housing projects are also examined and analyzed. The potential benefits this mixed-income approaches are summarized based on existing literature and interviews with key informants. Overall, this paper finds mixed-income approaches can have an important role in getting additional affordable units built, ensuring high-quality housing, and deconcentrating poverty. However, mixed-income housing is not a silver bullet to overcoming the difficult challenges faced by families seeking to escape from poverty or the realities of housing markets. Because mixed-income developments are complex, present unique risks, and often house fewer needy families than other types of development, mixed-income approaches must carefully consider the local housing market, the population to be served, financing options, the scale of the project, and the community context. This paper concludes by discussing the implications of these findings and suggests guiding questions for developers and policy makers considering mixed-income projects and policies.

9/15/2002
Author(s)/Creator(s): John Emmeus Davis
Nonprofit, community-based housing development organizations have only recently become significant players in the provision of affordable housing, at least in the United States. Historically, this job was left either in the hands of builders, developers, lenders and landlords of the business sector or in the care of agencies, planners and policymakers of the public sector. Only in the past 30 years has the provision of affordable housing moved beyond the familiar domains of the market and the state. A host of nonprofit organizations is now playing a larger role in constructing new housing, rehabilitating older housing, managing rentals and bringing home ownership within the reach of thousands of people for whom the American dream has proved elusive. The growth of these third-sector organizations has been both rapid and impressive, but it also has been uneven. Across the country, there are places where nonprofit housing development organizations are both plentiful and productive, supported by sophisticated networks of interorganizational collaboration, public funding, private financing and technical assistance. There are many other communities, however, where no nonprofits are engaged in affordable housing or where the ones that do exist are very new or very small, accounting for only a handful of new housing units every year. Lying between these two extremes are those communities where multiple nonprofits of varying size serve a similar geographic area, each producing a modest but respectable number of housing units; each competing for constituents, funding and development opportunities; each struggling to survive. The organizations that find themselves in this uncomfortable situation often confront a special set of challenges. They are productive, but not prolific. They are effective, but not efficient. They are successful, but not sustainable. Indeed, they are frequently quite precarious. The loss of a single staff person, the delay of a single project or the adverse decision of a single funder can threaten not only their short-term chances for success, but their long term prospects for survival. Those who sponsor and fund such organizations sometimes find themselves in a situation where competition among multiple nonprofits is weakening them all. In these cases, the sponsoring and funding organizations have taken different tacks to address this problem. In some cases, they have acted to strengthen every nonprofit, while working to increase the division of labor or the division of territory among them. In other cases, they have acted to strengthen one (or more) nonprofit at the expense of the others, culling weaker performers from the herd. While these have been the most common approaches for dealing with the weaknesses that organizational competition and duplication can sometimes create, a third alternative has been gaining ground. Multiple nonprofits, operating within the same jurisdiction, are being encouraged to collaborate -- even to the point of merging their programs, assets and hard-won identities. Why is collaboration gaining in popularity? A financial explanation would be that it is becoming harder to find enough resources to strengthen every nonprofit to the same degree, funding multiple nonprofits to serve a similar clientele in the same locale. There is also the political reality that public and private funders find it difficult to choose easily (or accurately) which nonprofits should live -- and which should die. There is a practical explanation as well. Collaboration is becoming a strategy of choice simply because it is proving to be an unusually effective way of achieving greater productivity, efficiency and sustainability. When a collaborative (or a merger) is carefully crafted, the nonprofit partners do a better job together than they did apart. This is not true in every case, of course. Read the full report for lessons in organizational matchmaking and the making of a nonprofit merger.

8/31/2002
Author(s)/Creator(s): Allegra Calder, Mark Duda, Michael Collins, William C. Apgar
An increasing share of lower-income families, the same population targeted by community-development organizations, are opting to live in housing that was built off-site in a factory to meet the performance standards of the national HUD manufactured-housing code. However, most community-development practitioners are just beginning to come to terms with the implications of manufactured housing for their work. This paper explores advantages and disadvantages of manufactured housing for those entities whose mission is community development and asset building. Several challenges are presented for practitioners: First, working to educate consumers while also creating financing processes that ensure manufactured home buyers obtain credit on the best terms for which they can qualify. Second, using the increased scrutiny under the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 to advocate for states to enforce more rigorous installation standards and increased accountability. Third, working to overcome land-use controls which prevent manufactured homes from being placed in communities in need of affordable housing, as well as areas with more potential for appreciation. Fourth, working with designers and planners to develop innovative designs and housing developments, while maintaining manufactured housing's affordability advantages. Finally, equal effort must be devoted to address the difficult conditions of many lower-income people -- owners and renters alike -- living in older, and often deteriorating, mobile homes. While a few of these families and individuals could be relocated to new and better quality homes with the help of subsidies, resource limitations suggest the need to create cost-effective methods to eliminate health and safety problems by upgrading or rehabilitating this extremely affordable element of the nation's housing inventory. As a companion to this paper, an exhaustive literature review has been compiled.

8/1/2002
Credit is increasingly a financial fact of life in modern society. It is also a topic that has been included in a variety of financial literacy programs that partner with the National Insurance Task Force (NITF). The purpose of this report is to capture the experience of NITF and to provide information and resources aimed at fostering additional understanding of this issue. This report is the first formal response of NITF regarding insurance scoring. As the use of credit has become more widespread, the NITF incorporated this topic into its educational outreach to insurers, community development practitioners and most especially, to consumers. NITF recognizes that credit is increasingly a factor in insurance rating and underwriting. It is not the goal of this report to take a position regarding this issue. Instead, it is to help guide insurers and community leaders on how to better educate residents on the role of credit in insurance and how it can potentially affect them. This report will demonstrate how credit, when effectively managed, can help consumers have better access to insurance coverage at an affordable rate. Through this report, we hope to lay a positive foundation of knowledge to build vital win-win partnerships that create and sustain strong communities and businesses and ultimately protect and preserve a homeowners greatest asset -- their home.

8/1/2002
The issue of how people can age in place in a safe, healthy and dignified manner is a front-burner issue, especially for the poor, frail elderly who live in communities served by the NeighborWorks network and by other community-based housing and health-care entities. The Southern District office of Neighborhood Reinvestment convened practitioners in the fields of housing, healthcare and supportive services to address this issue.

7/31/2002
Author(s)/Creator(s): Charles S. Wilkins, Jr.
This report contains the results of a special Congressionally-appropriated grant program to develop affordable multi-family housing that serves extremely low income households. The grants included capital grant "gap" funding for NeighborWorks organizations operating and preserving affordable multi-family housing.

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