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Foreclosure Relief Program Stuck in First
Dec 11, 2009; Washington Post | It is distressing to learn that, after all of the diligent efforts of nonprofits and the U.S. government to help homeowners negotiate restructured and affordable mortgage, there has been little positive result to show for it all. According to the Washington Post, only 4% of homeowners who have been receiving foreclosures assistance under the Make Home Affordable program have moved from the initial “trial” phase to permanent loan modification. Essentially, nonprofit foreclosure counselors are simply running into roadblocks with mortgage lenders and servicers that have been reluctant to move homeowners into permanent loan modifications. The lenders blame the government and homeowners, the government because of the amount of documentation that the feds are requiring through this program, and homeowners because they are often daunted by the challenge of navigating the red tape. But homeowners complain that the problem is with the lenders, who have been slow and slower in responding to requests for loan modifications. This is an example of where service delivery meets nonprofit advocacy. Nonprofit foreclosure counseling and assistance groups have to be diligent in documenting exactly when and where lenders and servicers are being nonresponsive, losing paperwork, and sending applicants back to “go”, so that the real story of the mortgage foreclosure crisis—the gap between what lenders and services say they’ll and what they’ll really do to fix the mortgage crisis—is laid bare for everyone to see.—Rick Cohen
Nashville charities reject immigrants’ kids: Rules to prevent fraud have unintended results
Dec 13; The Tennessean | Make our blood boil, why don’t you? This does it. Will the children of immigrants lacking green cards get assistance from charities? In some places, including a couple of nonprofits in Middle Tennessee, apparently not. For example, the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program and the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program requires parents to produce social security numbers for themselves and their children, proof of income, and other personal identification ostensibly to protect the charities from fraud—and to satisfy donors that “only local families are being helped.” That must mean that “immigrant” negates “local” as a descriptor of a possible eligible family looking for toys for their kids. That even includes U.S.-born children who would be denied holiday toys because one or both parents lack full documentation. For commentary supporting this policy, the Tennessean turned to a spokesperson from the Center for Immigration Studies, a notoriously anti-immigrant advocacy organization. One Steven Camarota said that the guidelines prevent people from gaming the system, going to multiple places to get toys for their kids: “If they deny them, it’s for a perfectly legitimate reason because there are people trying to game the system. That they are illegal immigrants is incidental.” It reads to us as hardly incidental. That’s who the policy is aiming at, the less than fully documented immigrant families, or more accurately, the children of such families.—Rick Cohen
Dec 11, 2009; The Missoulian| A moving article from The Missoulian provides a window into what social capital really means in practice during very difficult times and how philanthropic institutions can respond. When word began to spread in Missoula, Montana, that the Smurfit Stone Mill would close, the Missoula United Way began to organize itself around that unhappy reality. They were not so much concerned about the cash lost to their campaign as they were about the workers who had so consistently shown their generosity to others in that town. “We were deeply distressed to hear the news, and our hearts go out to them,” said Patrick. “Right now, we’re discussing what we can do to help these people who have done so much to help us over the years. These are people who’ve probably never had to ask for help before.” The mill, its workers and the corporate parent were all big contributors not just to United Way but to individual nonprofits in Missoula. On the other hand Death of a Nonprofit on the Huffington Post is a personal account of the closing of Behavioral Health Sservices (BHS) Hollywood Family Recovery written by Daniel Goldin, one of the therapists. After losing county contracts in the melee that is the California budget the group that ran (BHS) Hollywood was on difficult terrain. For a while the parent organization tried to maintain the facility and urged therapists to up their “productivity” but then “Corporate started “letting people go.” Before the recession, people only got ‘let go’ at BHS if they ‘went out.’ After the recession, every month brought rumors of sweeps. They’re going to be closing a facility or firing 10 percent of the staff, we would hear. And then people would disappear. One day a co-worker just stopped showing up and we learned after the fact that he had been let go last week, along with thirty other employees at 6 separate facilities. In August, Corporate instituted furloughs one Friday a month. In September, a rumor began to float that Hollywood was on the cutting block.” Golden describes one of the final visits from CEO Henry van Oudheusden. He writes, “he [van Oudheusden] went on, oddly, to praise the strength and flexibility of BHS even in the face of great adversity. Afterward, he spoke with each employee separately. He told some to pack up immediately and asked others to stay a few weeks to help transition clients to other agencies, which we all knew would be impossible.” In the end Goldin worries that few but those who worked there and were served there will notice the closing.—Ruth McCambridge and Kristin Barrali
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