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Proposed Federal Funding Cuts Threaten Critical Boston Services

At a March 7, 2012 City of Boston hearing, Department of Neighborhood Development officials discussed proposed funding cuts to the City’s CDBG and HOME funds. Attendees were then able to testify as to just how dependent some of the most necessary neighborhood services are on these funding sources. Our organization – NOAH - spoke as well. Staffers Linda Miller-Foster, Anthony D’Andrea, Agathe Hubert and Claudia Gongora each spoke of the continuing need for this vital funding, and requested HUD not to cut these funds. It seems clear that the proposed federal budget cuts could negatively impact numerous non-profits in neighborhoods throughout Boston, cutting services to those residents who need it the most, as testified to by numerous non-profits and their clients. Recently Mayor Menino said: “We must state our case loudly – CDBG works. And we simply cannot afford to lose any of this critical funding.”

Everyday, NOAH staffers see first-hand just how successfully CDBG monies are utilized on an ongoing basis. These dollars help our organization alone serve many hundreds of Boston residents in need each year. Through our Senior Homeowner Services line, we assist over 100 senior or disabled low-income residents remain securely in their homes through performing much-needed safety-related repairs. This program also coordinates the HeatWorks and HeatWorks Plus programs; and facilitates applications to the City for more extensive rehab projects. Francesca, a recent NOAH senior client, testified on behalf of the program.

Through our bilingual Rental Housing Counseling & Placement program, each year we counsel over 200 Bostonians in strategies to find affordable rental housing; and directly place between 40-50 families in new apartments. NOAH’s Foreclosure Prevention programming – also bilingual - works annually with 70+ Boston families facing foreclosure. Their situation is typically brought on by a job loss or severe illness, and is most often not due to any fault on their part. Lastly, NOAH holds 11 first-time home-buyer courses each year, alternating between Spanish and English, which educate residents in the most appropriate ways to locate, assess, and purchase their first new homes. Over 200 households attend these CHAPA-certified classes and receive a City of Boston certificate.

NOAH expressed its appreciation to the City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development for its current and past funding to help our non-profit perform these and other important public services for at-risk residents and families; and mentioned that our City-directed CDBG dollars are further leveraged by additional foundation and corporate funds. We asked that the federal government consider increasing, as opposed to decreasing, this important funding source. This sentiment was echoed by many other attending non-profits, who also asked that funds not be cut for any of these much-needed services. For more information, or to make written comments to the Department of Neighborhood Development about its upcoming One-Year Action Plan, please contact them at actionplan.dnd@cityofboston.gov or at 26 Court Street, 8th FloorBoston, MA 02108.

Mass. Attorney General Sues Big Banks Over Foreclosure Practices

NOAH is very grateful that the Attorney General has begun measures that will help thousands of distressed Massachusetts families save their homes through receiving affordable mortgage loan modifications; and we support her suit (announced yesterday) which helps to speedily address the foreclosure crisis. We believe that this action will begin the process of causing lenders’ actions to become more transparent and more equitable.

Because of her leadership in initiating this action, more homeowners will be able to responsibly stay in their own homes, keep the wealth they built, sustain the fabric of their neighborhoods, keep their children in school, pay taxes, and continue to invest in local banking institutions.

Here at NOAH, every day we see the need for the decisive action the Attorney General is taking.  Though NOAH was able to facilitate mortgage loan modifications for 84 households during the first six months of 2011, well over 500 cases still remained open in our pipeline with loan modification requests pending at banks and servicers.  Over half of these households had been waiting to hear back for over a year. We are in hopes that future requests for modifications will be greatly expedited.
By working to address the staggering numbers of families in need of a voice and of fair treatment, the Attorney General and her staff are leading the way to find practical and sustainable solutions to the devastating foreclosure crisis.  NOAH is grateful for and supportive of her leadership in these difficult times.

Thank You.

Dear NOAH Volunteers, Funders and Partners,

As we approach another Thanksgiving, NOAH feels it is essential to give thanks to all our volunteers, donors and partners for the time, dedication and support they consistently contribute to NOAH’s affordable housing and community programs.  Visitors to our office are amazed by the diversity, depth, and impact of NOAH’s programming.  As they learn about our work and then look to our small group of staff members, some ask, “How do you do it all?” We reply, “You are only looking at a few of NOAH’s family.  There are over a hundred dedicated NOAH volunteers each year.  We are just the ones who work at the office.”

If these visitors could stay for a few days, they would have a better understanding of what we mean.  They would see a steady stream of volunteers coming in at all hours to help teach classes, write fundraising letters, attend Board meetings, help organize events, work on real estate development projects, help in our foreclosure prevention activities and more.  They would see students dedicating time after school to work as young community leaders, coming up with creative ways to help their neighborhood.  And they would witness the results of the generous support from funders, who enable us to hold all our programs and help 1,600 hundred clients in need each year in Greater Boston.

NOAH’s larger family is consistently giving invaluable time, creativity, funds, and expertise.  We want to let you know that you continue to amaze and inspire us.  It is an honor to work with you.  Thank you.

Congressional Funding for NeighborWorks America Vital for the Economy

NOAH encourages Congress to fund the following programs at the highest level possible: Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, d/b/a NeighborWorks America (NWA) Funding; National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) Program Funding; HOME Program Funding; and HUD Counseling Assistance Program Funding.

The recent recession was due in large part to housing and mortgage financing issues; and therefore economic revitalization will need to focus on matters related to housing, as well. The positive impact these programs have on the housing market and the economy will serve as a significant piece of our nation’s recovery. In fact, these dollars actually save money for the federal government in the long run, in that they leverage the receipt of additional dollars. NeighborWorks® organizations typically leverage federal investment 31 to 1 through additional public and private support.

Concerning Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (NeighborWorks America) funding, at the Administration requested FY 2012 appropriation level of $135 million, the NeighborWorks Network would: Create or sustain more than 22,500 jobs; Generate more than $2.8 billion in investment in distressed communities; Assist 14,000 families to become new homeowners; Create or preserve 5,500 rental homes; Own a rental portfolio of 81,000 units; Preserve 15,000 units of affordable housing; Repair an additional 24,000 units; Provide housing counseling to 100,000 individuals. This funding helps communities rebuild and grow while sustaining local economies.

Re National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program Funding, a federal investment in FY 2012 of $80 million through NeighborWorks® America for the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling program will provide counseling for at least 190,000 more families facing foreclosure, while supporting 5,670 foreclosure counselors funded through NFMC across the country. As of March 2011, more than 1.16 million homeowners facing foreclosure around the country had been counseled by the 1,700+ grantees and sub-grantee foreclosure counseling agencies receiving funds from the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program. With more than 13 million families currently underwater on their mortgages, and projected foreclosure rates at 1.75 million to 2 million families in FY 2012, support for foreclosure counseling continues to be necessary.

Our non-profit is one of fourteen NeighborWorks America chartered organizations in Massachusetts. Between FY2006 and FY2010, together our fourteen agencies have counseled over 21,000 first-time homebuyers and directly facilitated over 4,000 first-time home purchases, preserved 2,666 affordable homes, and own and manage 6,309 affordable rental units. We have also created 4,497 local jobs, repaired over 14,000 affordable units, and leveraged federal NeighborWorks funds 77:1.

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