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Trying to get a handle on affordable housing
Oct 10, 2009; Star Tribune | It was a pleasure to see Paul Fate, a former colleague of this writer at LISC, now the CEO at CommonBond Communities, a high quality nonprofit affordable housing development and management organization, providing important insights into affordable housing issues in this recession, with commentary about resources made available through the stimulus legislation to groups like CommonBond. Part of the article discussed the downturn in the market for low income housing tax credits-due to a lack of corporate buyers of the credits, due to the recession-era low or no profits making tax credits less attractive, and due to the disappearance of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both among the largest corporate purchasers of credits, from the market. The stimulus provided $46 million to buy or supplement tax credits in Minnesota (CommonBond received $8.9 million from that appropriation), but that basically covers only, potentially, construction projects in 2009, with no announced plans for a new stimulus package to do the same in 2010. Smart nonprofit leaders like Fate know how to adjust business plans to market conditions, and CommonBond is making changes as necessary, but the social issue of how to provide affordable rental housing for people in need merits national policy attention.—Rick Cohen

Nonprofits weather extreme highs, lows during recession
Oct 13, 2009; Indianapolis Star | We’ll likely see many more of these kinds of stories, reporting on the contrast in fates of the country’s nonprofits. This report compares the University of South Carolina’s record-breaking annual fund drive—it brought in more than $100 million—and Salt Lake City’s The Arc of Utah, a veteran’s group that closed for business after donations dropped in half at the same time the agency was “reeling from poor financial decisions.”—Timothy Lyster

Does Canada’s health care system really work?
Oct 11, 2009; Idaho Statesman | Want to rely on charity care to make up for the gaps in health care insurance coverage? A reasonable pro-and-con on the Canadian system of universal coverage contained this compelling conclusion: “‘Cost doesn’t factor into it,’ said Muriel Buhr, a member of the Central Kootenay Advisory Planning Commission. ‘You can come to the hospital for a year and not pay a cent. It doesn’t matter if you’re out of work, you can still get your children looked after. You don’t have to choose between paying for medicine or paying your mortgage. If you can stop a whole nation from having to worry, why wouldn’t you have public health care? To me, the stress relief for families far outweighs the cost.’ Many supporters of reforming American health care reform would agree with Buhr. Rather than abandoning millions of uninsured to an uncertain future of charity care or postponed medical needs, reform advocates say, the Canadian system guarantees treatment for everyone, while simultaneously curbing costs and maintaining quality.” Makes sense to us.—Rick Cohen


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