Spanning the Region

Network of Housing Counselors Helps Memphis Area Homeowners

Homeowners in Memphis, Tenn., and the surrounding area who are having problems meeting their mortgage payments can call the Memphis Housing Counseling Network at 901-725-8361 for help. Callers will receive an immediate response and referral for one-on-one counseling to one of 11 counseling agencies in the network. Services are free and confidential.

Created in 2005, the network has worked with local officials, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency and the local media on foreclosure outreach and education.

In addition to foreclosure mitigation counseling, network members provide a full range of housing counseling services, from homebuyer education to credit counseling. This year, the network will add rental counseling to its list of services as it rolls out its rental housing curriculum. All member agencies are certified by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and most have received NeighborWorks America certification.

For additional information, contact Emily Trenholm, executive director, Community Development Council of Greater Memphis, 901-725-3124, or send her an e-mail at Emily@communitydevelopment.com.

Louisville Agencies Can Tap Into New Affordable Housing Fund

The Louisville Metro Council passed an ordinance on May 15, 2008, creating an Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Money in the fund, which will go to Louisville agencies involved with affordable housing, can be used for down payment and temporary rental assistance, foreclosure avoidance, emergency repairs, new construction and rehab financing, and other housing-related needs.

The initial $1 million for the fund will come from taxpayers with a goal of eventually raising $10 million annually.

Arkansas College Savings Plan Makes Matching Funds Available

A new program makes matching funds available for working families who participate in Arkansas’ 529 college investing plan. The Aspiring Scholars Matching Grant Program, created in 2007 as a two-year pilot program, sets aside $250,000 to match funds deposited into the 529 plan, known as the Arkansas GIFT Plan. The plan is a college savings vehicle that offers tax-deferred earnings and tax-free withdrawals for higher-education expenses.

Arkansans enrolled in the GIFT Plan and who earn an adjusted gross income of $60,000 or less may qualify for a one-to-one match of up to $500 annually. Arkansans who earn $30,000 or less can qualify for a two-to-one match of up to $500 annually. In addition, the GIFT Plan account holders must be Arkansas residents whose account beneficiaries also are residents.

The Aspiring Scholars program was modeled after successes in the state’s individual development account program and a demonstration project in Helena-West Helena called SEED.

For more information, visit http://thegiftplan.s.upromise.com/ or contact Mike Leach at 501-661-0322, ext. 24.

Social Enterprise Alliance Recognizes St. Louis Chapter

The Social Enterprise Alliance, a national association representing the growing number of social enterprises across the country, named its first local chapter in April. The SEA—St. Louis Chapter hosts learning and networking opportunities among social enterprises, foundations, lenders, educators and technical assistance providers in the St. Louis region. The chapter will work to foster market-based strategies for advancing social change.

SEA launched its chapter program this year to create a local support system for social enterprise.

For information about the alliance or the new chapter, call Chris Miller at 314-935-6906 or clmiller@wustl.edu.

New Kentucky Law Designed To Protect Homeowners

On April 28, 2008, the governor of Kentucky signed into law House Bill 552. The new homeowner mortgage lending protection law enables the Kentucky Housing Corp. to create a Kentucky Homeownership Protection Center, establishes the Kentucky Residential Mortgage Fraud Act, and addresses high-cost loans.

The Kentucky Homeownership Protection Center will be established as part of a borrower education initiative. The center will provide a centralized location for information on public services from community organizations and from federal, state and local governments that assist homeowners in default or in danger of default on a home loan. The center will provide toll-free telephone numbers for mortgage assistance, home repair assistance and utility assistance programs.

The law also establishes new responsible lending requirements by redefining high-cost loans, setting new affordability requirements for high-cost loans and reducing barriers to refinancing disadvantageous loans made by a mortgage loan company.

To learn more, visit www.lrc.ky.gov/legislation.htm.

Online Homebuyer Course Available in Indiana

The Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority (IHCDA) has a new tool for prospective homebuyers: IHCDA University.

IHCDA University is an online homebuyer education course offered at no charge to consumers in the state of Indiana. Those who complete the course also satisfy the education requirement for all homebuyers seeking the .125 percent mortgage rate reduction offered through IHCDA loan programs. Course information is designed to educate consumers about the basics of the home-buying process.

For additional information, visit http://ihcda.knowledgefactor.com.

Louisville Loan Fund Named “Best in Nation” by CDFA

The Downtown Development Corp.’s Downtown Housing Revolving Loan Fund in Louisville, Ky., was selected as the best revolving loan fund program in the nation at the recent Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) summit in St. Louis. CDFA recognizes successful revolving loan funds that have proven results, create community change and raise awareness of this economic development finance tool.

The Downtown Housing Revolving Loan Fund is a $6.8 million fund that has helped to leverage financing for $128.6 million in housing projects in downtown Louisville. The fund was created in the late 1990s through a partnership between the city of Louisville and a consortium of 14 local private-member institutions of the Downtown Development Corp. The goal of the revolving loan fund is to stimulate this market and revitalize a dormant downtown housing market.

To find out more about the fund, visit www.downtowndevelopmentcorp.org.

DREAM Applications Available in Missouri

Community leaders in small- and medium-sized towns in Missouri have until 5 p.m. July 18, 2008, to apply for state funding for downtown revitalization and job creation. The funds are available from the Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri (DREAM) Initiative.

According to information from the state, 20 communities have received more than $225 million in total investment for housing, construction and renovation projects and infrastructure improvements since the initiative began two years ago. Public investment totals $38 million, which in turn has generated $189 million in private investment in the communities. Past DREAM recipients are the cities of Aurora, Cape Girardeau, Caruthersville, Chillicothe, Clinton, Excelsior Springs, Hannibal, Hermann, Kennett, Kirksville, Maryville, Mexico, Neosho, Poplar Bluff, St. Joseph, Sedalia, Sikeston, Trenton, Washington and West Plains.

The program is administered through the Missouri Department of Economic Development, which works closely with the Missouri Housing Development Commission and the Missouri Development Finance Board to provide assistance to community leaders.

Applications for funding may be obtained at the DREAM Internet site, www.dream.mo.gov. There will be two applications available, one for previous applicants who were not selected and a second for first-time applicants.

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