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Delays plague Denver’s HUD grants
Oct 5, 2009; Denver Post | NPQ’s analysis of the stimulus package when it was first in front of Congress suggested that one of the challenges would be simply in spending the money. The complexity of the recession-related challenges and the weaknesses of the government architecture add up to delays in getting money into the hands—or coffers—of nonprofits that can put the resources to good use. In Denver, for example, 12 months after the allocation of $6 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), not a dollar has been spent yet on acquiring and rehabilitating foreclosed homes; the funds haven’t even gotten to the nonprofit developers yet. Habitat for Humanity is in line for the acquisition and rehab work, but the HUD rules are, given the subprime foreclosure problem and the complex process for getting a hold of bank-foreclosed homes that have not been auctioned to other buyers, is tough.—Rick Cohen

New nonprofit learning the housing rehab ropes
Oct 5, 2009; Salt Lake Tribune | The strategy to get things moving in Columbus, Ohio, is to acquire foreclosed properties in a land bank that can then dispose of the properties to various nonprofit housing developers such as the Homes on the Hill Community Development Corp., the Franklinton Development Association and Columbus Housing Partnership over a period of time. But it’s slow going in Columbus. Since May, the land bank has spent $489,000 to acquire 50 properties for future redevelopment purposes. But that’s $489,000 out of an NSP award of $22.8 million—and they’ve applied for an additional $64.8 million in NSP II.—Rick Cohen

Nonprofit fights to get $1M in stimulus funds: Rebuilding Together lobbying Capitol Hill
Sep 18, 2009; Dayton Business Journal | Although the acquisition and rehab moneys are crucial to reverse the foreclosure and abandonment wave caused by the subprime mortgage crisis, the slow moving funding spurs some groups to think about alternative uses for the money. In Dayton, Rebuilding Together (the new name of the group most people know as Christmas in April) is working with local officials to lobby HUD to allow RT to use $1 million of the city’s NSP allocation to do home repairs on occupied homes with existing homeowners rather than vacant properties.—Rick Cohen

Foreclosure blight: The cleanup crawls along
Sep 29, 2009; | Orlando, Florida has spent only $322,000 of its $6.7 million allotment of Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds so far. The national advocates for the NSP program are also disappointed in the molasses-like flow of money into nonprofit deals. But there are reasons. A longtime friend and colleague of ours, Mike Tierney, the chief operating officer of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, summarized the situation: “The challenge has been to get this money into the field and working. It’s moving more slowly than we anticipated. I don’t think it will have as much impact as we originally hoped.” Another longtime friend of ours, Alan Mallach, now a non-resident fellow of the Brookings Institution, identified one problem area: “Getting hold of the houses, especially the right houses, can be a lot harder than they thought. They are finding there’s a lot more competition for these properties, and they are losing out to investors.” Like many of the original enthusiasts of the program, Mallach appears to be reconsidering his expectations: “It’s very unclear when the dust settles how much real change in neighborhood stability and quality of life we’ll see.”—Rick Cohen


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