For years, the 230-member West Metro Board of REALTORS® (WMBoR) has helped support the Neighborhood Stabilization Program administered by the City of Carrollton Housing Authority. By rehabbing abandoned homes and selling them with down payment assistance to qualified buyers, the program has been a real success in preventing and reversing blight in in the West Metro region, about 50 miles from Atlanta in the foothills of the Appalachians. But no one even knew about WMBoR involvement. So board leaders applied for and received a $2,500 Housing Opportunity Grant from NAR to draw attention to the program and their involvement in it. They erected a publicity booth at MayFest, a popular annual Carrollton event, to promote the success of the program and accompanied it with special signage to post active listings.
Where there are homes in safe areas with access to good education, good transit and other services, that’s where the jobs go. It was this kind of big thinking that led the 2,800-member Greater Nashville Association of REALTORS® (GNAR) to gather a coalition of regional partners in the housing industry last summer, to co-sponsor The Greater Nashville Housing Summit. The July 3 event at GNAR headquarters was the first of its kind, drawing housing experts and policy makers from around the state for a forward-looking “state of the housing market” program. Media relations, both before and after the Summit, were funded by an NAR Housing Opportunity Grant of $2,500, which also covered promotional graphics and printed materials, as well as a wealth of research information.
The 4,500-member Denver Metro Association of REALTORS® (DMAR) realized that Employer-Assisted Housing was a topic that would serve both the membership and the community, so they applied for and received a $5,000 grant from NAR to fund a course in October 2010. Then, they took it to the next step by establishing the Greater Brighton Employer-Assisted Housing program. Today, the program serves this tightknit community northeast of Denver by showing employers who might not have ready cash to offer down-payment assistance that benefits like a day-off for moving, or the loan of a truck, are creative low- or no-cost ways to give their employees a housing benefit. Besides funding the course itself, the EAH grant from NAR paid for course materials, promotional flyers, tri-fold brochures to distribute to employers, and the website.
Read more about Denver Metro’s Employer-Assisted Housing Program (135K PDF)
The city of Waterbury, Conn. had been facing a growing epidemic of neighborhood blight for decades. Some properties had been abandoned; others harbored criminal activity. Porches, lawns, and sidewalks along entire streets had fallen into disrepair. Leaders of the 650-member Greater Waterbury Board of REALTORS® met with the mayor and launched a neighborhood stabilization program to do something about it. Funded by a $5,000 Housing Opportunity Grant from NAR, which was doubly matched by the City of Waterbury for a total of $15,000, the first annual Waterbury Citywide Front Porch Day in July 2012 brought together over 300 volunteers to clean up ten blight-ridden Waterbury streets. Follow-up meetings are now occurring with neighborhood groups and a date for the 2013 Front Porch Day will soon be announced.
- Read more about GWBR’s Front Porch Day Program (1.42M PDF)
The REALTOR® Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach, Inc. is working with the Lee County Housing Development Corporation to provide free Homebuyer Education classes to the communities it serves. Course materials are provided by NeighborWorks® America and include topics such as homeownership readiness, money management, the purchase process, and home maintenance. Under the direction of 2012 President, Marion Briggs, the 4,000-member association used a $5,000 Housing Opportunity Program grant to produce a video featuring testimonials of students who describe the benefits of homebuyer education and their experiences as homeowners. The video has been shared with the public by various community-based organizations and lenders.
The 3,000-member Ada County Association of REALTORS® (ACAR) first used an NAR Ira Gribin Grant to develop a three-pronged housing assistance program it called Welcome Home Idaho — providing down payment assistance for working families; zero-percent loans to help with fees and interest; and Employer Assisted Housing materials and training for the community’s REALTORS®, elected officials, and business leaders. Then, it moved on to use NAR Housing Opportunity Grants to put on a housing summit; a Fair Housing campaign; a housing trust fund for lower-income homebuyers; and more.
The 1,400-member Southern Maryland Association of Realtors® (SMAR) received a $5,000 NAR Housing Opportunity Program Grant to partner with the College of Southern Maryland to present Money Smart. This free event offered sound financial advice in tough economic times. Industry experts presented sessions covering topics related to real estate and mortgages; personal banking; and taxes, insurance, and financial planning.
Land is at a premium in Missoula, Montana, which is situated in a picturesque valley at the convergence of five mountain ranges. This stunning topography imposes natural limits on development options for housing – or anything else. It also means that workers who cannot afford to live in the city must literally cross mountains to get between work and home. Mayor John Engen had made affordable housing a priority and the Missoula Organization of REALTORS® stepped up to plate to help. MOR co-sponsored a housing summit and put on an Employer-Assisted Housing Class using NAR’s My REALTOR® Party resources.
In this economy, it’s not easy getting anyone to part with money. But down in Mississippi, thanks to a statewide program of education and outreach, REALTORS® are finding some success, despite the hard times, in convincing employers that helping their employees on the road to home ownership is a win-win situation. The Mississippi Association used a $60,000 workforce housing grant from NAR to help increase awareness of a new state law that provides tax incentives to employers who assist their workers in becoming home owners.
The Nevada Association used its Housing Opportunity Grant from NAR to help sponsor “Under One Roof” – a forum addressing employer-assisted housing programs. The January 28 event drew dozens of employers, as well as government and community leaders to encourage more employers to help their workers access quality housing through employer-assisted housing, a benefit that helps employees meet their housing needs. Nevada REALTOR® Dawn Lane, who organized the event, explained that employer-assisted housing is a key component to successful businesses. “Employees who own their own homes nearer to work stay with a company longer, are more productive, have fewer absences and have more stable home lives,” she said.