National Preparedness Month 2021

New loan program to help residents create more resilient, energy efficient homes

by Madelyn Lazorchak, NeighborWorks America’s Communications Write

 

September is National Preparedness Month, a time to prepare for disasters or emergencies that could happen at any time. Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida (NHSSF) is spending the month putting the finishing touches on a new loan program that will help families prepare their properties for emergencies, says Juan Carlos Gordillo, marketing and communications manager for the NeighborWorks network organization. The focus will be on creating more resilient and energy-efficient homes. Hurricane Ida, which recently brought a deluge of rain to the Gulf Coast, highlights the need for that resiliency.

Using funding from the Opportunity Finance Network, the national association of  Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), NHSSF will offer loans to help residents protect their homes against the heat and the storms that have hit South Florida hard these last few years. Residents can also use loans for new windows, energy efficient appliances, and more, to help save money while helping the environment.

“Florida is really in a hot spot, due to climate change and flooding,” Gordillo explains. “We are seeing stronger hurricanes and recurring extreme weather events. These loans will help homeowners make improvements to face the impact.”

The program will be especially beneficial for low-income homeowners, who have a difficult time coming up with financing for improvements that can help protect their homes or lower energy bills, Gordillo says. “We want to give low-income homeowners access to green technology.” Residents could buy new, energy efficient refrigerator, or improve the insulation of doors and windows to protect their homes, for example. They could purchase a generator to keep things running when the power goes out, after a hurricane has touched land.

Heat has been such a challenge in Florida that Miami-Dade hired a heat officer this year, the first in the nation. “We want to help there, too,” Gordillo says, adding that loans could be used to get new air conditioning systems, or to elevate air-conditioning systems on platforms, to protect them from flooding.

NHSSF conducted a survey over the past two months to see how to better address homeowners’ needs. “We asked them: If you had the opportunity to make improvements, what would you like to do? Would you need money? How much would you need?” One hundred percent of survey respondents stated they would make energy-efficient improvements if they had financing options available. Rising energy costs and combating climate changes appeared to be the largest motivators. The three things residents wanted most included: solar panels, floodproofing, and energy-efficient appliances. For resiliency upgrades, residents listed generators as the item they needed most, followed by floodproofing and impact glass windows. “Flooding is a constant hazard for many of our residents,” Gordillo explains. “Every hurricane season, they face that challenge.”

NeighborWorks organizations across the country are becoming increasingly agile in helping communities and homeowners respond to natural disasters, regardless of the geography.  “Whether the disasters are related to floods, fires, earthquakes, or drought, our network is developing locally-tailored solutions like this loan program in Florida to assist residents in maintaining their individual and community’s social and economic fabric and resilience as future events occur,” according to Sarah Kackar, director of Rural Initiatives at NeighborWorks America.

At the end of August, Jim Murley, chief resilience officer for Miami-Dade County, had his eyes glued on the flooding in Louisiana and New York. “It could have happened to us,” he says, adding that Florida is often considered “ground zero” when it comes to the effects of storms and of a changing climate. “We have to prepare. We’re constantly preparing and using the resources we have as a public entity.” When nonprofits like NHSSF are able to compliment that preparation, it makes a difference, he adds.

“We want homeowners to be able to access capital to make the improvements we know they need,” says Murley. The county government works with weatherization and other programs, but Miami-Dade has 34 municipalities within its boundaries. “There are never enough funds. We want to expand the choices citizens have to make improvements to their homes so they can withstand impacts of shock, like hurricanes.”

Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida is striving to be one of those choices. Gordillo estimates that loans through the new program will average $7,000 each. That can make a difference in protecting a home, he relates. Staff will continue to evaluate the program after its launch to see what other possibilities become available.

 

Read original note appeared on NeighborWorks America on September 8, 2021.

https://www.neighborworks.org/blog/new-loan-program-to-help-residents-create-more-resilient-energy-efficient-homes


graphic featuring the NHSSF logo and photo of Kim Henderson, CEO

Americorps and CDFI Fund Launch Economic Mobility Corps

Today, the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund, a division of the United States Treasury announced its awardees to participate in a new initiative between the CDFI and AmeriCorps an agency known for making “service to others” part of our national culture. NHSSF is honored to be among just three organizations selected from a nationwide grant process selected to deploy 10 AmeriCorps members in localities facing gentrification pressures, affordable housing shortages, poverty, financial services and food deserts among other pressing social and economic challenges.

This collaboration between AmeriCorps and the CDFI FUND is one step forward on what I hope will be a movement not just a moment in history but a movement to address the economic divides that threaten our democracy and our collective hope for a better future.

This year funding to CDFIs in response to C19 recovery is unprecedented and will likely exceed $1 Billion spread across multiple federal agencies to spur economic activity in the most critical sectors of our economy. I believe those of us working in and adjacent to public service are doing God’s work in making this experiment in democracy and an open economy work for all Americans. NHSSF is not only announcing how honored we are to be selected but also making it clear we can’t do this work alone. Our banking partners and other stakeholders will be instrumental in the success of this initiative.

We humbly share the good news.

Kimberly T. Henderson
President and CEO

 

animated slideshow featuring Kim Henderson's press release


graphic featuring the CDFI, Americorps and NHSSF logos

Americorps and CDFI Fund Launch Economic Mobility Corps – Press Release

More than $2.5 million invested to place 156 AmeriCorps members for two years in Community Development Financial Institutions

 

AmeriCorps and the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) announced today (8/11/21) three Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) were awarded more than $2.5 million through the inaugural round of the AmeriCorps CDFI Economic Mobility Corps (EMC) program. NHSSF is one of the CDFI among the awardees!

“Providing far-reaching access to credit and capital in distressed communities requires the presence of a dedicated and committed team cadre with experience in delivering a range of financial education services,” said CDFI Fund Director Jodie Harris.” Today’s EMC awards assists in building a deep bench of talent to help CDFIs deliver critical financial products and services in areas that are underserved by traditional financial services providers.”

A joint initiative of the CDFI Fund and AmeriCorps, this new national service program places full-time national service members in Certified CDFIs to support their work in distressed and underserved communities providing financial literacy, financial planning, budgeting, saving, and other financial counseling education.

“This partnership leverages existing strengths in responding to economic disparities. By using intentional educational programming these long-term community-based organizations will serve the people in their neighborhoods to build better economic fluency for them, their children, and so many more,” said Sonali Nijhawan, Director, AmeriCorps State and National.

In total, award recipients will receive approximately $1.27 million in grant funding each year for two years to support the placement of service members in CDFIs over a two-year period. For the two-year period, total award funding equals more than $2.55 million to sustain the placement of 78 AmeriCorps members each year. Of the 78 AmeriCorps members that will be placed in Certified CDFIs, 10 members (or 12.8% of all service members) will be located in Persistent Poverty Counties (PPCs).

As a result of their service, the AmeriCorps members supported by these awards are eligible for up to $989,000 in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards to help offset college, trade or university expenses.

Authorization for EMC was provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (Pub. L. 116-93), which also provided $2 million in funding to support the first round of EMC. An additional $556,416 in funds appropriated to AmeriCorps by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Pub. L. 117-2) is being used to support this round of the program.

Certified CDFIs receiving EMC awards and the number of service members supported annually by each organization’s award, include:

  • LiftFund, Inc. (San Antonio, TX): $113,452/7 service members
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation (New York, NY): $992,800/61 service members
  • Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida, Inc. (Miami, FL): $171,956/10 service members

 

About the CDFI Fund

Since its creation in 1994, the CDFI Fund has awarded more than $3.9 billion to CDFIs, community development organizations, and financial institutions through the Bank Enterprise Award Program, the Capital Magnet Fund, the Community Development Financial Institutions Program, the Financial Education and Counseling Pilot Program, and the Native American CDFI Assistance Program. In addition, the CDFI Fund has allocated $61 billion in tax credit allocation authority to Community Development Entities through the New Markets Tax Credit Program, and guaranteed bonds for over $1.7 billion through the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program.

To learn more about the CDFI Fund and its programs, please visit the CDFI Fund’s website at www.cdfifund.gov.

 

About AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteering, brings people together to tackle the country’s most pressing challenges. AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers serve with organizations dedicated to the improvement of communities. AmeriCorps helps make service to others a cornerstone of our national culture. Learn more at www.AmeriCorps.gov.

 

About Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida

Established in 1978, NHSFF is a certified Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) and an accredited community development nonprofit serving South Florida residents for over 40 years. NHSSF is committed to advance prosperity for all South Floridians through Lending, Real Estate Sales, Housing Development, Home Buyer Education & Counseling, and Community Transformation. NHSSF is also a chartered member of the NeighborWorks® America. In this capacity, we are part of a nationwide network of over 240 chartered community development organizations and one of the twenty that serve Florida residents. NHSSF provides its full spectrum of homeownership services in English, Creole, and Spanish to assist potential homebuyers in reaching their homeownership goals. For more information visit us at: nhssf.org.