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This popular article from the NeighborWorks Campaign for HomeOwnership reports on research confirming that homeownership is good for families, neighborhoods and the economy

Author(s)/Creator(s): Anne Gass, David Dangler, Marcia Nedland
Much of community development work in this country is understood in urban terms - densely populated areas with attendant economies of scale, housing issues that can be addressed largely in isolation of economic development and infrastructure issues, micro-level service area focus without the need to address regional economies and housing markets, even simple communications and relationship-building opportunities. None of this is terribly surprising. After all, the community development field grew out of urban activism and experience. The translation of urban revitalization strategies and lessons learned into a rural community development model inevitably highlights the challenges unique to highly varied rural markets. The service area is typically numerous communities, sparsely populated, covering great distances. Absent are highly visible corporate headquarters and other traditional opportunities for local private partnership. Smaller municipalities are less likely to offer a full range of services to complement any nonprofit service delivery system. At first glance the challenges facing rural development seem daunting. Needs -- or everything that seems to be so glaringly absent -- outweigh assets. However, rural markets are well worth a second look. In the few years since NeighborWorks America launched its Rural Initiative, we've uncovered astonishing examples of innovation with enormous community impact in some of the most challenging markets in America. We think these innovations are well worth sharing. Rural markets are often the emerging markets for expanding regional economies. The closer we look at the work being done by community based organizations, and in particular, chartered members of the NeighborWorks network, the more we realize that these organizations function as front line economic engines for increased homeownership, infrastructure improvements, job creation and retention. This report documents the compelling attributes of six business strategies that are successfully transforming diverse rural markets across America. Our hope is that this exciting new information, the first of a series, will stimulate numerous and varied adaptations within the community development field and spur additional investment in rural development by the private and public sectors.

Author(s)/Creator(s): Frances Ferguson, Jill Khadduri, Judy Weber, Kenneth D. Wade, Larry Buron
Mixed-Income rental properties that include extremely low-income households (below 30 percent of AMI) are a valuable strategy for community health. They simultaneously address two critical challenges: housing for those most in need and desegregating poverty. Understanding how to operate mixed-income apartments profitably is important to increase the development and underwriting of these properties. With the generous support of the Ford Foundation, NeighborWorks America undertook this study of management and marketing practices of successful mixed-income properties that have served extremely low-income families while maintaining positive cash flow for at least five years. This report describes seven strategies used by these properties to stabilize and maintain high occupancy rates with healthy operating budgets. For each strategy, we provide concrete implementation examples.

Author(s)/Creator(s): Lynn Bachelor, Margaret Grieve
Community based organizations, funders, and intermediary organizations working in the community development field have a shared interest in building stronger organizations and stronger communities. Through evaluation these organizations can learn how their programs and activities contribute to the achievement of these goals, and how to improve their effectiveness and the well-being of their communities. Yet, evaluation is rarely seen as part of a non-judgemental organizational learning process. Instead, the term "evaluation" has often generated anxiety and confusion. The Community Development Storymap project is a response to those concerns. Illustrations found in this document were produced by Grove Consultants.

Author(s)/Creator(s): Allegra Calder
In June 2004, NeighborWorks America issued a request for proposals for its first Manufactured Housing Design Innovation Pilot Program. The goal of the pilot program was to support development using manufactured or modular housing to demonstrate that both housing types can be part of a viable affordable housing strategy. A jury reviewed proposals from 12 organizations and selected six finalists to share the $250,000 grant. In selecting the finalists, the jury considered the feasibility of the project and its ability to be a national model, and the strength and development experience of the organization, including prior experience with manufactured or modular housing. The six funded organizations were:
  • Affordable Housing Resources in Nashville, Tennessee;
  • HomeSight in Seattle, Washington;
  • Homewise in Santa Fe, New Mexico;
  • Interfaith Housing Delaware in Wilmington, Delaware;
  • Laconia Area Community Land Trust in partnership with the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund in Laconia, New Hampshire; and
  • Rural Ulster Preservation Company in Kingston, New York.
The six projects cover different geographies and different approaches to development. This report presents the following case studies in an effort to inform interested organizations and individuals about the project specifics, as well as the challenges and lessons learned.

Author(s)/Creator(s): Elisabeth C. Prentice, Eric Hangen, James Baker, Tom Skinner
The following report provides an overview of a Home Value Protection (HVP) product to evaluate the practicality of making such a program more widely available and provide background for anyone considering such a plan. The paper is based largely on the Home Value Protection product established in Syracuse New York in 2002, and a number of the authors of this paper participated in the establishment of the Syracuse Home Value Protection program. The paper contains four sections: 1: Investor Outreach This section provides background information about the Syracuse program, the current and potential participants and what roles they might play, a review of a few of the ways such a program could be implemented, and links to various media coverage. 2: Index Research The Syracuse program measured changes in house values by a real estate index for the area (rather than individual house sale price), and this section evaluates a number of different index methods using four markets historical data to see how well the different indexes would have performed with a HVP product (had it been available). 3: Capital Requirements & Pricing This section provides a model for estimating the pricing requirements and capital required for a program across multiple markets. While not exhaustive, this approach will provide a useful reference and starting point for anyone evaluating investment in such a program. 4: Regulatory Environment This section provides information on some of the regulatory entities across the markets used in the analysis. Due to the variations in the way a HVP product could be implemented, regulations could apply in a variety of ways and this section can only offer a starting point for potential investors or participants.

Author(s)/Creator(s): Mark Duda, William C. Apgar
Metropolitan Atlanta is experiencing a foreclosure boom as the number of failed mortgages more than doubled in less than five years, between 2000 and 2005. These foreclosures impose significant costs not only on borrowers and lenders, but also on municipal governments, neighboring homeowners and others with a financial interest in nearby properties. As a result, foreclosure avoidance strategies must involve not only federal, state and local public agencies, but also responsible mortgage industry officials, consumer groups, and community-based, not-for profit organizations. This report was commissioned by Doug Dylla at NeighborWorks America to help build awareness of foreclosure problems and craft a comprehensive foreclosure-avoidance strategy for metropolitan Atlanta. The work presented here serves as a companion to the Foreclosure Prevention Forum cosponsored by NeighborWorks America and the Atlanta Federal Reserve on May 23, 2005. The forum brought together more than 150 leaders from the mortgage industry, state and local government, the advocacy community, and academic and policy researchers. These participants generated a variety of collaborative approaches to address issues related to mortgage failures and foreclosures in the Atlanta region. The report was written and researched by Mark Duda and William Apgar. It expands on research presented by Duda at the forum and is intended to characterize the current situation with respect to mortgage failures in metropolitan Atlanta, as well as previous research completed by the authors on foreclosure avoidance in Chicago and Los Angeles. The foreclosure data used in this report were generously provided by EquiSystems, LLC, producer of the Atlanta Foreclosure Report.

Changes in bankruptcy laws have two impacts on NeighborWorks organization and similar housing counseling agencies. First, clients in financial crisis seeking assistance may have more difficulty filing bankruptcy than under previous regulations. Second, the new law requires credit counseling and debtor education, services which some nonprofit organizations may decide to provide. Organizations need to understand the new provisions of the law to guide existing counseling programs, and should thoroughly analyze the requirements for providing counseling or education services before considering entering the bankruptcy counseling field.

Author(s)/Creator(s): Larry Buron
Montevista was built in 1998 and is a 306-unit mixed-income, mixed-race property in Milpitas, California. Milpitas is a small city outside San Jose that boomed along with the rest of Silicon Valley in the 1990s and then cooled off in the early 2000s. It remains a relatively prosperous, low crime, and low unemployment city. Montevista contains a nearly even mix of affordable tax credit and market-rate units. The residents are economically diverse with household incomes that range from below $10,000 to over $200,000. The residents are also racially diverse with substantial shares of Asians, Hispanics, and whites.

Author(s)/Creator(s): Larry Buron
Peters Colony is a 160-unit mixed-income, mixed-race development located in Carrollton, Texas, a relatively prosperous suburb north of Dallas. The property is nearly evenly split between households with income (1) less than 30 percent of the family-sized adjusted area median income (AMI), (2) households between 30 and 50 percent of AMI, and (3) households between 50 and 80 percent of AMI. One-third of the units have no income limits, but the owner voluntarily limits occupancy to households with income below 80 percent of the median at initial occupancy. The property was purchased and modestly rehabbed by Foundation Communities in 1995.

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