MHL Tapped by Housing Partnership Network & Citi Foundation to Participate in Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative

Mercy Housing Lakefront Among 12 HPN Members Nationwide Selected to Expand High-Impact Revitalization Projects

Today, Mercy Housing Lakefront announced that it has been selected to participate in the Housing Partnership Network’s (HPN) Innovations in Neighborhood Stabilization and Foreclosure Prevention Initiative, an effort to expand innovative solutions to neighborhood stabilization challenges in 10 metropolitan areas across the country. The initiative is part of a $2.75 million commitment by the Citi Foundation to bolster HPN’s mission to support affordable housing and vibrant communities, and to provide leading community based housing organizations like Mercy Housing Lakefront with grants and other resources to support high-impact neighborhood revitalization projects that can yield important lessons and be replicated in communities across the country.

Mercy Housing Lakefront will apply the grant to the 180° Properties program created in partnership with The Cara Program. 180° Properties is an innovative, scalable, self-sustaining social enterprise that provides training and work experience for disadvantaged job seekers who board-up and protect vacant foreclosed homes. Funding from the Innovations Initiative will allow the venture to develop new products and services, expand geographically, and ultimately create jobs while protecting vacant homes and stabilizing neighborhoods. 

“We are very pleased HPN and Citi are recognizing the important work our organization is doing to improve the quality of life for Chicago’s residents,” said Cindy Holler, President of Mercy Housing Lakefront. “These funds will allow us to enhance that mission, better serve our neighbors who are most in need, and reclaim our community from the grips of the economic downturn.”

“This initiative incorporates collaboration and innovation, both of which are essential for expanding economic empowerment widely,” said Helen Hammond Redding, Illinois State Director for Citi Community Development.  “As with our other successful partnerships around the country, we will leverage the impact even more by sharing best practices and looking for opportunities to replicate and scale this effort.”

As part of the initiative, HPN will convene key thought leaders, policy makers, business partners, and Network members as part of the grant program, to share learning from the initiative with a goal of shaping new policy responses with the power to achieve widespread long-term neighborhood stabilization.

Nationally, the grant awards will fund 10 different neighborhood stabilization initiatives over a two-year period, and will be managed by 12 HPN member organizations. Two of the grants have a national focus, while the others target specific communities that, as in Chicago, have been heavily impacted by mortgage delinquency and foreclosure. Additional funds from the Citi Foundation will support HPN’s efforts to provide technical assistance and facilitate peer information sharing.

“Making our communities more livable is essential to helping underserved populations get on a path to long-term stability,” said Pam Flaherty, President & CEO of the Citi Foundation.  “HPN and its member organizations have deep roots in communities around the country, and the Citi Foundation is proud to provide resources that will help these groups to further bolster and enhance at-risk neighborhoods.”

Investing in innovation is a core component of the Citi Foundation’s investment strategy, and this program is directly aligned with its goal of increasing the supply of capital for efforts that strengthen low-income communities through the development and preservation of high quality affordable housing, and efforts to enable consumers to build and preserve financial assets. 

“Years after the financial crisis, communities are still reeling from the destabilization of neighborhoods, rising foreclosure rates, and stalled regional development,” said Thomas Bledsoe, President and CEO of the Housing Partnership Network.  “These grants support projects that promise innovation, success and replicable results.  As experienced and key players in regional neighborhood stabilization activities, our members are finding new approaches that have a positive impact on their communities.”  

As part of this initiative, HPN and the Citi Foundation announced grant awards to Mercy Housing Lakefront and the following organizations: Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Inc.; Boston Community Capital; Cleveland Housing Network; HAP Housing; Housing Development Fund; Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago; Neighborhood Housing Services of New York in partnership with the Long Island Housing Partnership and the New York Mortgage Coalition; NHT/Enterprise Preservation Corporation; and Project for Pride in Living. Information about each of the projects is included in this release.

Grant awards for the initiative were determined through a competitive RFP process that drew 31 applications. An advisory committee composed of internal and external experts from the housing field (full list below) evaluated the applications based on their potential for transformative community impact, ability to inform policy discussions around neighborhood stabilization, and the level to which they break new ground in developing solutions that can be replicated or scaled to have widespread impact in communities across the country.

Advisory Committee Members include:

Eric Belsky, Joint Center for Housing Studies; Pat Gamble-Moore, Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership; Patricia Garrett, The Housing Partnership (Charlotte-Mecklenburg); Bill Gilmartin, National Association of Realtors; Catherine Godschalk, Calvert Foundation ; Bob Kantor, Fannie Mae; Alan Mallach, Center for Community Progress; Mike Mullin, Nevada HAND, Inc.; Craig Nickerson, National Community Stabilization Trust; Becky Regan, Housing Partnership Network; Carolina Reid, Center for Responsible Lending; Laura Sparks, Citi Foundation.

About Mercy Housing Lakefront

Mercy Housing is addressing the Chicago and Milwaukee regional foreclosure and housing crisis and enhancing the long-term competitiveness of the region by working with partners to build or preserve 7,500 affordable homes, help 2,000 families avoid foreclosure, create 8,000 jobs, and prevent dislocation or homelessness for 20,000 people.  Mercy Housing Lakefront (MHL) has developed and currently manages 23 properties with nearly 3,300 residents.  Mercy Portfolio Services (MPS) is a national foreclosure remediation leader and manages the City of Chicago’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program. MHL and MPS are part of Mercy Housing, a national organization that has developed, preserved, or financed 40,000 affordable homes. Please find more information at mercyhousing.org

About The Cara Program

The Cara Program prepares and inspires motivated individuals to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty, transform their lives, strengthen our communities and forge paths to real and lasting success. Since 1991, The Cara Program has placed over 3,250 individuals into quality, permanent employment at average hourly wages 30% higher than Illinois minimum wage and one-year job retention rates of 77% - catalyzing the same number of families to stop the transfer of poverty from one generation to the next.  Additional information can be found at www.thecaraprogram.org.

About The Housing Partnership Network

The Housing Partnership Network brings together senior executives from the nation’s leading housing and community development nonprofits to collaborate on entrepreneurial programs and businesses which ensure that families have access to affordable homes in thriving communities across the country.  Members share best practices, pool resources, launch cooperative businesses, and collaborate on practitioner-driven policy advocacy to achieve innovation and results. 

About The Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation is committed to the economic empowerment and financial inclusion of low- to moderate-income individuals and families in the communities where we work so that they can improve their standard of living. Globally, the Citi Foundation targets its strategic giving to priority focus areas: Microfinance, Enterprise Development, College Success, and Financial Capability and Asset Building. In the United States, the Citi Foundation also supports Neighborhood Revitalization programs. The Citi Foundation works with its partners in Microfinance, Enterprise Development, and Neighborhood Revitalization to support environmental programs and innovations. Additional information can be found at www.citifoundation.com.

About Citi Community Development

Citi Community Development (CCD) is leading Citi’s commitment to achieve economic empowerment and growth for underserved individuals, families and communities by expanding access to financial products and services, and building sustainable business solutions and innovative partnerships.  Our focus areas include:  commercial and philanthropic funding; innovative financial products and services; and collaborations with institutions that expand access to financial products and services for low-income and underserved communities. For more information, visit www.citicommunitydevelopment.com.

Innovations in Neighborhood Stabilization and Foreclosure Prevention Initiative

Additional Grantee Projects

Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Inc. will scale up its capacity to stabilize 20 neighborhoods across Metro Atlanta through the acquisition, rehabilitation and repopulation of vacant, foreclosed homes. 

Boston Community Capital will conduct strategic communications, research and fieldwork to influence foreclosure policy discourse on a national level, and lay the groundwork for expansion of the Stabilizing Urban Neighborhoods (SUN) program to keep homeowners in their homes.

Cleveland Housing Network will add substantially to its neighborhood stabilization efforts by testing new markets and models for helping priority neighborhoods recover from the foreclosure crisis, in alignment with Cleveland’s collaborative vision of a smaller, more vibrant city.

HAP Housing will advance strategic neighborhood approaches for the stabilization of three low-income Springfield, Massachusetts neighborhoods hit hard first by the effects of foreclosures and abandonment, and then by a devastating F-3 tornado on June 1, 2011. 

Housing Development Fund will work to stabilize Connecticut cities with high rates of foreclosure by developing a cohort of “landlord entrepreneurs” who will play a significant role as owner-occupants in a new, coordinated financing and training model for the purchase, rehabilitation and responsible management of owner-occupied small multi-family properties.

NHS of Chicago will implement a new model for advising homeowners through a network of Resolution Specialists who will work in partnership with the homeowner, lender, and servicer to modify mortgages through a new national distressed note purchase initiative aiming to benefit low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. 

Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City, Inc. (NHSNYC) in collaboration with the New York Mortgage Coalition (NYMC) and the Long Island Housing Partnership (LIDP) will create a foreclosure intervention program for existing homeowners who may qualify to own or rent their homes if prices were reset to current market valuations. 

NHT Enterprise will advance a financing model for HPN members and other affordable housing owners to preserve and green multifamily rental properties in at-risk neighborhoods using a nontraditional and growing source of capital – energy efficiency grants and loans from the nation’s utilities.

Project for Pride in Living, Inc. (PPL) will return small, foreclosed, scattered site rental properties to effective use as positive community assets by refining its approach to the redevelopment and subsequent management of small properties.