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Initiative invests in Cumberland County neighborhoods

JUNE 16, 2010 – Low-income families will have a chance to move into foreclosed homes in Cumberland County, thanks to a $500,000 partnership between the North Carolina Indian Housing Authority (NCIHA) and the North Carolina Community Development Initiative.

The money, provided by the Initiative’s finance subsidiary, Initiative Capital, comes in the form of a low-interest Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) loan. Such loans are designed to provide funding to nonprofits and community development corporations for the acquisition and redevelopment of foreclosed-upon residential properties. NSP guidelines require that these properties must then be sold at affordable prices to low-income individuals or families.

Led by Executive Director Barbara Melvin, NCIHA works with state-recognized American Indian tribes and other low- to very low-income families in North Carolina. She explained that the partnership with Initiative Capital comes at a critical time.

“We see a tremendous need for affordable housing in Cumberland County,” said Melvin. “Normally, the families we work with can’t get a conventional loan on their own.”

Nat James, chief lending officer for Initiative Capital, agrees that the timing is right for the loan, since growth at and near Fort Bragg is expected to put additional pressure on the housing market.

“This partnership is significant,” said James. “It will allow communities around Fort Bragg to benefit from the economic upsurge that we anticipate from the base realignment plan. The Indian Housing Authority and the Initiative want to make sure that these neighborhoods aren’t left behind.”

Raleigh-based Initiative Capital is a U.S. Treasury-certified community development financial institution, focused on providing low-interest loans to community development corporations (CDCs) and other nonprofits working in community economic development.

In addressing the mechanics of the financial partnership, James explained that this loan is more than a one-time investment.

“We are providing a $500,000 revolving line of credit,” he said. “It will allow NCIHA to reinvest the money over and over again into the community. That could lead to as much as $2 million of investment in the community, by the end of the program.”

James added that NCIHA is able to bring its own valuable assets and opportunities to the table.

“Working with NCIHA gives us an opportunity to leverage federal funds in communities that might not see them otherwise,” he said. “Their track record says it all: This is what they do.”

Along with owning and managing their own rental properties, NCIHA offers a lease-to-purchase program and housing counseling to residents. It also partners with the USDA Rural Development Office to offer a self-help program, designed to assist low-income residents in building their own homes.

“We take them by the hand, offer them credit counseling, walk them through the actual process of applying for loans,” said Melvin. “We do follow-up once they’re in their homes. We teach them budgeting, homebuyer education, home maintenance. And we put all of our new homes in the Systems Vision energy program, because it’s not an affordable home if you can’t afford your power bills.”

Green building and energy efficiency are also priorities for Initiative Capital.

“Any chance we get to leverage green technology in the construction process, we will,” said James. “It brings additional value to the community and builds additional assets for low-income families.”

State figures show that nearly 10 percent of Cumberland County‘s workforce is unemployed. Importantly, the NSP work will provide opportunities for local subcontractors and construction workers who may be struggling to find work in these tough economic times.

Initiative Capital received $3.5 million in NSP funding from the State, and will leverage at least $7 million in investments in NC communities by the end of the program. The Center for Economic Empowerment and Development and Kingdom CDC are among the groups receiving NSP funds from Initiative Capital, bringing its total investment in Cumberland County to $1.5 million.


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