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Achieving, Preserving, Sustaining

The American Dream of Home Ownership

Neighbor Works

Neighborhood Leadership Development Program seeks 2016 applicants

by Lou TislerJuly/18/2016

In 2006, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, along with former Cleveland Mayor Michael White, established a leadership training program for engaged neighborhood leaders. The Neighborhood Leadership Development Program (NLDP) is a free, 15 session community engagement training program for residents of Cleveland, and its inner ring suburbs, who are working on projects within the City of Cleveland and who are determined to make a positive impact on their communities.

After the application process, 20 committed individuals are chosen for the program year. NLDP participants and graduates have many interests and are working on a wide variety of issues to improve life in their communities.

Mary Kauffman and Seronica Powell are two such people.

Mary is an MJCEC Manager (Magic Johnson Community Empowerment Center). Seronica is Director of Operations / IT at University Settlement. Increasing access to communications and technology for low income communities has been one of their long time goals.

Along with other NLDP graduates, they have developed a project called TechREVIVAL, designed to empower, strengthen and educate the community around technology for the home, work/school and play.

TechREVIVAL will be a tent event with a kick-off on July 13,” Embrace Your Geekness Day”, and will take place on the grounds of University Settlement and virtually at several other locations via web conference. The Revival will move to different locations and take place at various times and days throughout Slavic Village. It will be a fun-filled, engaging and interactive event that the audience will partake in. For example, the audience will use available mobile technology in order to interact with the information they see, hear or touch while learning different ways to use technology to improve their lives.

This is just one aspect of the work they are doing to increase connectivity in their communities. Both increased their leadership skills through their course at NLDP saying that “NLDP provided avenues for connecting to other people working on similar projects.” They found the NLDP self-awareness assessments very helpful saying, “we don’t really take the time from our busy schedules to stop and think about who we are and how other people see us. That was an important step.”

Seronica credits NLDP with “helping her to take a step back and realize she could not do everything herself and that as a leader, she needed to bring others along and not just be concerned about her own growth but about the growth of those with whom she worked. She learned to “let go” and trust others to do things”.

The 15 sessions take place on Saturdays at Trinity Commons at 2230 Euclid Avenue beginning August 27. The deadline for applications is AUGUST 1. For more information and an application, visit nldpcleveland.com or call 216-776-6172.

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Home will always matter...

by Alexandra E. BodieJuly/1/2016
 
Since i have had the chance to speak very openly and honestly with my boss, Executive Director of NHS of Greater Cleveland, Lou Tisler, and now that our board and staff members know, i believe it's the right time to share with all of you that as of July 15, 2016 i will be stepping down from my role as Communications Manager. This has not been an easy decision to make, in fact, it's been quite difficult and that is mainly because of all of you.

I started my journey with NHS of Greater Cleveland three years ago as an AmeriCorps VISTA through NeighborWorks America's Strengthening & Building Healthy Communities program. During my VISTA year i was supposed to focus on community engagement and volunteer recruitment and i definitely did, but, i was also fortunate enough to be able to utilize my degree and take hold of the organization's communications channels. As i approached the end of my VISTA commitment, Lou let me know that he would like me to come on board as a staff member and that i could even write up my own job description.

My creation of the Communications Manager role was something entirely new for NHS of Greater Cleveland. It's definitely been a lot of trial and error to find out what works best, but, i would not have it any other way. I have always thought about each of you as well as residents of northeast Ohio, and our current clients, and through my role, how i can best connect all of us to what we need.

I want to thank my bosses, work family, colleagues, neighbors, friends, and family for all of the inspiration and support to keep me going when life felt confusing, difficult, and impossible. The last three years of my life have been some of the best and i have managed to achieve a level of happiness i did not know before my time here. Cleveland is truly a special place to be, but, it's also a place that needs our help. It is not any one person or entity's job to affect this change. We must come together - there is strength through collaboration. They say there are two Clevelands. Please, let us be motivated to beautify our neighborhoods, create community and opportunities, build racial equity and inclusion, fight oppression, fix up our Homes, follow our passions, strengthen our educational systems, and support local.

At this point, it seems like the right time to give back and serve in my hometown of Warren, Ohio. I just wanted to feel like i was a part of Cleveland, that this was my Home, and i do, i really do. Thank you for making me fall in love with this great city and especially my neighborhood, Slavic Village. -alex
 

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Need to buy a car? Learn how w/NHS!

by Alexandra E. BodieJune/14/2016

Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland is excited to partner once again with the Cuyahoga County Public Library for a “How to Buy a Car” workshop series! NHS will conduct workshops throughout northeast Ohio. Please see dates with branch locations below! Don't forget to follow the links to register!

What our "How to Buy a Car" workshop covers…

Learn how to buy a car without emptying your wallet. This comprehensive workshop will cover researching personal finances, insurance vehicles and loan options. Plus, find out what to expect when entering the dealership; how long to take before making a decision and dealer secrets that will be eye-opening to anyone who has ever experienced trying to negotiate a deal.

Dates + branch locations! Hit the link to register!

Maple Hts. - Tues, June 7 at 7pm 

Richmond - Tues, June 14 at 6:30pm 

North Royalton - Mon, July 18 at 7pm

Parma Hts. - Thurs, July 21 at 7pm 

Garfield Hts. - Mon, July 25 at 6:30pm

Strongsville - Wed, July 27 at 7pm

North Olmsted - Thurs, Aug 18 at 7pm

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Vote for NHS in the NeighborWorks Week Photo Contest!

by Alexandra E. BodieJune/9/2016

Every year during NeighborWorks Week, NeighborWorks America hosts a photo contest. For the last 2 years Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland has garnered the most interest and support to win the contest. Help put the City of Cleveland on the map for the third year in a row - vote for NHS every single day at bit.ly/1sZV2pB, on all of your devices through Saturday, June 18!

Thank you for taking the time to support us, without your help we could not do this!

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How to affordably finance remodeling projects

by Alexandra E. BodieMay/4/2016

It's National Home Improvement month and homeowners across the country are planning to tackle remodeling projects. However, too often the last thing that homeowners focus on is how to affordably pay for work that goes beyond a can of paint or a few swings of a hammer. Since remodeling costs can run from the hundreds of dollars easily into the thousands, it's appropriate to take time and consider the best financing and money-saving options.

Buying on credit

For do-it-yourself projects, labor isn't a relevant cost but materials are. Before pulling out a credit card, check to see if there are discounts available or cash back when purchasing items from certain stores. Does a credit card from the store that you're buying materials offer any 'same as cash' incentives such as no-interest if paid in full within a set amount of time? This may be a good option if you're disciplined enough to pay off the debt in the allotted time frame. If not, interest charges on these types of store cards could easily top 20 percent annually.

If you're considering paying for remodeling with credit, visit Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland (NHS) and receive housing counseling that could help clarify a complicated decision.

Also, for qualified homeowners, NHS and other nonprofits in the community have affordable loan and even grant products that could be tapped to pay for remodeling.

Rent the tools you need

Most people have a hammer in the house, but not everyone owns all of the tools necessary for more than a minor repair. If you'll need more tools than what's sitting under the sink or gathering dust behind boxes in a garage, consider renting them. Larger home improvement stores rent tools at a fraction of the purchase price. Why buy a tool to cut stone, ceramic tile or lumber when it could be rented for a lot less?

Moreover, there may be a tool library in your community. Often, the City of Cleveland’s community development corporations have programs in place to lend tools to residents, recognizing that especially in lower income communities, the cost of maintenance shouldn't be an obstacle to keeping a home well maintained and updated.

Another great option is borrowing a tool from a neighbor. A survey from NeighborWorks America last summer found that 86 percent of people believe that a neighbor would lend them a tool or help out in other ways.

Be sure you know how to operate the tools and take all necessary safety precautions. Many rental places and NHS offer training on the safe and proper use of many tools.

Put that tax refund back into your home

Two-thirds of taxpayers expect to receive a refund this year. According to the Internal Revenue Service, roughly one in seven taxpayers wait until the final day. Whether you've waited until the last minute or already have a refund in hand, a way to use the cash is to help pay for a remodeling project.

Even if your refund isn't near the average of just above $3,000, combining any refund received with other funds is a way to lower any interest costs that come with borrowing to pay for a home remodeling project.

So, this month, or whenever you choose to tackle a home remodeling project, keep an eye on the financial side of things. It will make living with the finished project that much sweeter if lingering costs aren't interfering with enjoying the fruits of all that labor.

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Grab a bag, Cleveland...

by Alexandra E. BodieFebruary/28/2016

Grab a bag, Cleveland.

 #grababagcle

Hey all, some of you may know that i do not just work in Slavic Village, i also happen to live in the neighborhood as well and fondly call Slavic Village my Home. What a beautiful day we have experienced in northeast Ohio, over 60 degrees on February 29 - unheard of! I decided to walk a few blocks down my street, Fleet Avenue, to Seven Roses for some food. I had a lunch of some potatoes with onions and a medley of broccoli and cauliflower, and a Coke on the porch of a boarded up Home next door to Seven Roses. I watched the cars drive by, soaked in the sunshine. I noticed a flower bed with some bushes, some green bits popping up, signifying new life even amongst the layers of last year's batch of bushes and plant-life. I then peered down at my feet, fuzzy socks were a bad idea, but then i noticed what appeared to be a smashed reflector, too big to be a yard stake, actually it looked like a tail light smashed to bits, on the steps of the porch and in the yard. All that remained from my lunch was a container and a plastic grocery bag - i thought, "why not fill this bag up..." - so i did and then i kept walking and stopped when i saw a plastic grocery bag filled with a half bottle of pop, i used it to pick up litter, then found another bag caught on a tree branch and filled it up, eventually finding one final bag to fill.

It was so easy. I challenge you to try and fill up at least one plastic grocery bag a day with litter nearby your Home, on your block, or in any of Cleveland's neighborhoods.

Grab a bag, and fill it up! Let's clean up Cleveland together...one bag at a time!

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Housing Counseling Works

by Lou TislerFebruary/26/2016

I was recently in D.C. to attend two very focused meetings - the first held at the AFL-CIO Headquarters, it was the Americans for Financial Reform Housing and Foreclosure Taskforce. We discussed the successes and barriers of our work for the past year and then identified goals and strategies for specific areas of need - racial and class inequalities in homeownership rates, the drag of underwater homeowners throughout the U.S., especially the Midwest, the Mortgage Debt Relief Act, and the dire need for improvement and inclusions. After that, it was on to the White House to join leaders of the National Housing Resource Center to discuss the importance of housing counseling with banking regulators and the government sponsored agencies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Some takeaways:

Create incentives to increase access to credit and homeownership sustainability by participating in housing counseling.

Raise public awareness of the benefits of housing counseling.

Adopt "HUD-approved housing counseling agencies" as the standard for housing counseling in all federal programs.

Include borrower(s)'s preferred language data fields in the uniform mortgage application redesign.

Retain housing counseling data fields in final redesign of the uniform mortgage application.

Replace the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) with a framework that will sustain homeownership and take advantage of the benefits of foreclosure prevention counseling.

 

Here's the deal, the research is in, and housing counseling does work. Check out these recent examples of research showing the effectiveness of both pre-purchase and mortgage delinquency counseling:

Pre-Purchase Counseling Impacts on Mortgage Performance: Empirical Analysis of NeighborWorks America's Experience (2013)

Learning to Cope: Voluntary Financial Education and Loan Performance During a Housing Crisis. (2010)

National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program Evaluation: Congressional Update (December 8,2014)

The most recent report to Congress on the NFMC Program, this report provides a definitive analysis of NFMC counseling done through July 31, 2014:

NFMC Program clients were nearly three times as likely to receive a loan modification cure than non-counseled homeowners;

NFMC Program-counseled clients were 70% more likely than non-counseled homeowners to remain current after receiving a modification;

NFMC-counseled homeowners who received a modification, on average, a reduction in their payment of nearly $5,000 more per year than non-counseled homeowners, a savings of more than $60 per month.

The Effectiveness of Pre-Purchase Homeownership Counseling and Financial Management Skills (April 2014)

 

I am thankful to Michael Stegman, Senior Policy Advisor for Housing at the White House, who convened the meeting, and i look forward to what will come from our discussions.

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Cleveland Saves Raffle

by Nichole PulleyFebruary/23/2016

From February 22-April 15, we will be doing a Cleveland Saves Raffle!

Drawing is April 18 - winners will be notified by phone and then email. Must provide photo ID.

Must be signed up as a Cleveland Saver for the duration of the contest. (emails or texts)

How to Enter:

1. Signing up for Cleveland Saves, emails and/or texts, will earn you one entry. You must remain a member for all weeks of the contest up to and including the date we conduct the drawing.

2. Referring a friend, who signs up as a Cleveland Saver, will earn you an additional entry. Friend must remain a Cleveland Saver through duration of contest. (Limit 1)

3. Social media participation will also earn you an additional entry. You must "like" us on Facebook, share our page, and comment with "I just signed up for Cleveland Saves!" NOTE: We cannot give credit if your post is not PUBLIC.

Total of 3 possible entries per person!

Prizes:

Winner of $100 - Gamestop, Amazon, AMC | Subject to change without notice based on availability at time of purchase.

Grand Prize Winner of $300 - Cinemark, Heinens, Giant Eagle, Whole Foods, Amazon | Subject to change without notice based on availability at time of purchase.

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Particpate in America Saves Week 2016!

by Alexandra E. BodieFebruary/22/2016


So, what is America Saves and why is there a week for it?

 
America Saves, a campaign managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America (CFED), seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. The research-based campaign uses the principles of behavioral economics and social marketing to change behavior. Non‐profit, government, and corporate groups participate in America Saves nationally and through local, regional, and statewide campaigns around the country. America Saves encourages individuals and families to take the America Saves pledge and promote savings year-round and during America Saves Week.
 
Cleveland is actually Home to the first local campaign, and three years ago, David Rothstein introduced Cleveland Saves to Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland.

Cleveland Saves provides free financial tools, savings services, advice, and resources that help individuals and families from every income level take the steps needed to take charge of their finances and manage money more effectively.

By inspiring a strong savings ethic in people, Cleveland Saves can improve the financial health of our schools and businesses and our communities!
 

Wondering how YOU can participate in America Saves Week?

 

Take the Cleveland Saves Pledge

Set a goal and make a plan to save. Join over 390,000 people who have pledged to save and take the America Saves Pledge today. Already taken the pledge? America Saves encourages you to recommit to your savings goal and re-pledge today. Military? Take the Military Saves Pledge.

Assess Your Savings Progress

Find out if you are saving in all the right places.

#imsavingfor Photo Contest

To celebrate the upcoming America Saves Week, America Saves is launching the #imsavingfor contest. It’s easy to enter. Just share a picture of you and what you are saving for and then enter to win $500 at AmericaSavesWeek.org/imsavingfor

 Don't forget to follow Cleveland Saves on Twitter @CleSaves, and America Saves on Twitter @AmericaSaves.

America Saves, a campaign managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America, seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. The research-based campaign uses the principles of behavioral economics and social marketing to change behavior. Non‐profit, government, and corporate groups participate in America Saves nationally and through local, regional, and statewide campaigns around the country. America Saves encourages individuals and families to take the America Saves pledge and organizations to promote savings year-round and during America Saves Week.

We provide free financial tools, savings services, advice, and resources that help Americans from every income level take the steps needed to take charge of their finances and manage money more effectively.

By inspiring a strong savings ethic in people, we can improve the financial health of our schools and businesses, our communities, and our nation.

- See more at: http://www.americasaves.org/learn-more-about-us/about-america-saves#sthash.5wf7Smbv.dpuf

Take the America Saves Pledge

  • Set a goal and make a plan to save. Join over 390,000 people who have pledged to save and take the America Saves Pledge today. Already taken the pledge?  America Saves encourages you to recommit to your savings goal and re-pledge today. Military? Take the Military Saves Pledge

Assess Your Savings Progress

  • Find out if you are saving in all the right places. 

Saver Checklist

  • Check off your savings accomplishments to see how you're doing.

#imsavingfor Photo Contest

  • To celebrate the upcoming America Saves Week, America Saves is launching the #imsavingfor contest. It’s easy to enter. Just share a picture of you and what you are saving for and then enter to win $500 at AmericaSavesWeek.org/imsavingfor
- See more at: http://www.americasaves.org/for-savers/participate-in-asw#sthash.988LHBKW.dpuf

Take the America Saves Pledge

  • Set a goal and make a plan to save. Join over 390,000 people who have pledged to save and take the America Saves Pledge today. Already taken the pledge?  America Saves encourages you to recommit to your savings goal and re-pledge today. Military? Take the Military Saves Pledge

Assess Your Savings Progress

  • Find out if you are saving in all the right places. 

Saver Checklist

  • Check off your savings accomplishments to see how you're doing.

#imsavingfor Photo Contest

  • To celebrate the upcoming America Saves Week, America Saves is launching the #imsavingfor contest. It’s easy to enter. Just share a picture of you and what you are saving for and then enter to win $500 at AmericaSavesWeek.org/imsavingfor
- See more at: http://www.americasaves.org/for-savers/participate-in-asw#sthash.988LHBKW.dpuf

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NHS believes in VITA

by Lou TislerFebruary/17/2016

We are an engaged participant in the Cuyahoga EITC Coalition, led by Enterprise Community Partners. For 6 years, we have been a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site and have a goal to serve 1,000 families a year. Nichole Pulley, our site coordinator, continues to recruit volunteers from the community and run our site smoothly. 

 

One of the best parts of the VITA program is that we can partner and collaborate with our community stakeholders. Last weekend, we partnered with Third Federal Savings & Loan, Ohio Savings Bank, and John Carroll University to hold a huge Super Refund Saturday event at Cleveland Central Catholic. Serving more than 100 families, we brought $300,000 in federal and state refunds to northeast Ohio. What’s more, we saved taxpayers $70,000 in fees!

 

In our mission to help families and individuals achieve, preserve, and sustain homeownership – the EITC is a tool for each of those areas.

 

As much as it is a poverty relief tool for working families, it is also an economic development program. Our community in Broadway Slavic Village has more than 50% of residents eligible for the EITC. How important is the EITC and free tax service to our communities? It is pivotal. Our clients tell us they use these dollars for utility bills, housing payments, and food. Increasingly, we are hearing from clients that they plan to save portions of their refunds, which is why it's absolutely key to integrate financial programs and services into the VITA process. The EITC and free tax preparation are an excellent combination for asset building. NHS offers free financial capability (fincap) counseling before and after tax time to help families leverage this golden moment of the year. 

 

We are proud to be a free tax preparation site but we are not resting there. We continue to work with policymakers and communities to help better fund free tax preparation, expand the EITC, and curtail egregious storefront preparers.

 

Senator Sherrod Brown has been the most vocal supporter for these efforts and we share the most recent successes with him. A little known fact is that Senator Brown actually ran a free tax VITA site out of his Lorain office when he was in the House of Representatives. It is a wonderful thing to see his efforts come full circle - a great example of this is local journalist, Sam Allard's focus on tax preparation. Make sure to read his piece, "Unregulated Storefront Tax Preparers Collect Fees From Low-Income Americans, and Local Advocates Want to Change That."

 

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