Spanning the Region

Habitat To Build “Green” Subdivision in Memphis

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis will start work this year on Trinity Park, its first affordable housing subdivision.

The 38-home development in the Oakhaven neighborhood just south of Memphis International Airport will feature all “green,” or energy-efficient, homes. The development is the result of a partnership between Habitat for Humanity International and the Home Depot Foundation. The two organizations teamed up to create “Partners in Sustainable Building,” a $30 million nationwide grant program to make 5,000 Habitat houses sustainable and energy efficient over the next five years.

The Memphis Habitat chapter is one of 30 affiliates selected for the pilot program. The pilot will target a variety of markets, including rural and urban areas, warm and cold climates, and new construction and rehabilitation. Groundbreaking for the Memphis development will occur in 2009. The project is slated for completion in 2011.

Green building is not new to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis. Since 2006, Habitat has completed 22 EcoBUILD certified homes. EcoBUILD is a voluntary green building program created by Memphis Light, Gas and Water to stimulate energy and environmental awareness through the use of energy-efficient and environmentally friendly technology, materials and techniques in new home construction.

Arkansas Offers Teachers Housing, Rental Incentives

High-performing teachers who are willing to work in distressed Arkansas school districts may be eligible for rental and homeownership incentives.

The Arkansas Teacher Housing Development Foundation, a state agency established in 2003, oversees the program. It works with school districts that have difficulty recruiting and retaining high-performing teachers for grades K through 12, have a critical shortage of teachers qualified to teach any grades K through 12, and have 50 percent or more of district students performing below “proficient” on any or all benchmark examinations.

Since October 2007, when the agency first began taking applications, 18 teachers have received down payment and closing cost assistance under the homeownership incentive program. Another 30 teachers have received rental assistance. The recipients are predominantly in rural areas of the state where the majority of the distressed school districts are located.

For more information, contact Melanie R. Yelder, foundation director, at 501-683-5401 or by e-mail at melanie.yelder@dfa.arkansas.gov.

Neighbors Help Neighbors Repair, Clean Up Homes

Neighbors Assisting Neighbors (NAN) has recently come into the spotlight as a grassroots, nonprofit organization in St. Louis County, Mo., working on problem properties. The group’s mission is to stabilize neighborhoods by empowering residents to interact with each other and to help their neighbors with cleanup, home repair and vacant property issues.

Target neighborhoods are selected in partnership with county government and existing neighborhood organizations. NAN has been active for some time, but just recently received its 501(c)3 tax exempt status.

With foreclosures and vacant property problems in the news, NAN emphasizes that, if these problems can be addressed by neighbors in a timely manner, more serious issues like crime and falling property values may be prevented.

The organization is seeking support for operating expenses and is planning to add a staff member who can provide planning expertise.

For more information about the NAN model, visit: www.nanstl.org.

St. Louis Business Incubator Designed To Help Homeless

A new business incubator in St. Louis is drawing national attention because of the clients it serves. The BEGIN New Venture Center is the first business incubator in the nation to focus on the homeless or those at risk of homelessness. The center is an innovative community partnership program of business incubation and entrepreneurship, skills and trades training.

The incubator is the brainchild of officials at St. Patrick Center, the largest provider of services to the homeless in Missouri. The incubator builds on St. Patrick’s existing concept of providing a one-stop care facility to those in need.

The acronym BEGIN expresses project goals to stimulate business, employment, growth, incomes and neighborhoods. The mission is to provide training, education and mentorship that result in sustainable employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The BEGIN Center has four critical components:

  • The BEGIN New Venture Center is the business incubator within the homeless center. It will provide new venture creation.
  • The BEGIN Training & Education Center will provide pre-training assessment, pre-incubation assessment, trades/skills training and business/entrepreneurial training.
  • Clients will have a complete network of wraparound social support services available to them.
  • The operation of social enterprises will provide clients with transitional jobs training and employment opportunities.

For additional information, visit www.BEGINSTL.org or contact Jan DeYoung at 314-802-0995.

Indiana’s Homebuyer Course Exceeds Expectations

The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) announced in September that Indiana’s latest tool to educate prospective homebuyers has surpassed expectations. The free online homebuyer education course, IHCDA University, has attracted twice as many registered users than projected during its first five months of operation.

IHCDA officials originally anticipated that 1,500 prospective homebuyers would use the program in the first year. Instead, in the first five months it was available, the program exceeded that expectation with 2,438 prospective homeowners registered in the system. Of that number, 1,800 have successfully completed the course; and, of those, 803 are in the process of closing or have already closed on their homes.

IHCDA University was designed as a tool to educate prospective homeowners to make smart purchasing decisions. The course is free and available 24 hours a day via the Internet to allow prospective homebuyers to take it at their leisure. IHCDA University takes about six to eight hours to complete and walks potential buyers through several lessons, including getting ready to buy a home, managing money, understanding credit and getting the right mortgage loan to meet their needs. Completion of the course also satisfies the homebuyer education requirement that is necessary for all homebuyers seeking the 0.125 percent mortgage rate reduction offered through the agency’s single-family purchasing programs.

For more information about IHCDA University, visit http://ihcda.knowledgefactor.com.

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