NWMT and the partners have been having regular monthly calls, which serve as a great opportunity to provide information, catch up, and have conversations about what we do.
So many of the partners are the only entity in a large area doing the kind of work they do. The opportunity to talk to each other and exchange information is helpful. In addition, it allows NWMT and Montana Board of Housing to provide updates on HUD and NFMC guidelines and compliance information. We appreciate the positive response and participation of the partners on these calls!
In This Issue
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Our staff at NeighborWorks and partner organization Rural Dynamics/CCCS were deeply involved with the EHLP program, through a grant received by Montana Board of Housing. Our staff spoke with 500-600 people in July during the outreach period and received 400 pre-applications. Based on the criteria we were given, 325 pre-applications were invited to submit full applications. 305 of them did so.
Of those 305, we were able to submit 86 applications to HUD's fiscal agent by the end of September. We are still working through the process with HUD and its fiscal agent, and as of the beginning of December 15 applications have been approved by HUD or its fiscal agent, 9 have been disqualified, 60 are still in process, and one has withdrawn.
In June of this year, NeighborWorks Montana and our network agencies were devastated to learn that Congress had completely eliminated the funding for the homebuyer education and housing counseling program of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). But in true Montana spirit, we cinched up our saddle and rode off to look for substitute funding. We are happy to report that we have nearly met our goal of securing $250,000 to be able to continue to provide homebuyer education and individual homeownership planning throughout the state of Montana.
Our thanks to the Montana Board of Housing, First Interstate Bank, Stockman Bank, American Federal Savings Bank, Mountain West Bank, First Montana Bank and US Bank for their generous donations keeping the Homebuyer Education and Homeownership Planning program going in 2012.
Last year, NeighborWorks Montana network members provided homebuyer education and housing counseling assistance to families and individuals in 53 out of 56 Montana counties.
In 2011, the default rate of NeighborWorks Montana borrowers is still less than 1%, far better than the national and state averages. Homebuyer education works – creating more prepared and more successful homeowners, even among low-income buyers. We thank our generous supporters for their understanding and their whole-hearted endorsement of NeighborWorks Montana's education efforts.
To help Congress understand the importance of Homebuyer Education, we asked graduates to write a short note to our Congressional delegation, explaining how Homebuyer Education helped them. Over 168 graduates wrote to Senators Baucus or Tester or to Representative Rehberg with their stories. Kudos to the graduates who took the time to write. Congress and the President have restored partial HUD funding for Homebuyer Education and Homeowners Planning for next year.
In sad news for the housing industry in Montana, Nancy Leifer, Single Family Program Manager for the Montana Board of Housing, has retired.
MBOH Executive Director Bruce Brensdal, Nancy's supervisor, said, "Her commitment to affordable housing combined with her organizational skills and her clear-eyed vision for our office made her invaluable. We will miss her tremendously."
Longtime colleague Sheila Rice, Executive Director of NeighborWorks Montana, concurred, saying, "Nancy has the rare gift of always looking for solutions after identifying the problems. Her concise intellect and warm wit will be missed."
She logged more than 25 years in the housing industry. As Bureau Chief and Division Administrator of the Community Development Division of the Montana Department of Commerce in the early 1980s, she created the state's Community Development Block Grant program and supervised Section 8 Housing.
Nancy then worked as coordinator of the Missoula Housing Task Force and Missoula Housing Corporation. While in Missoula, Nancy created and administered a second mortgage program and was certified as a NeighborWorks homebuyer education instructor. She worked with the Missoula Housing Authority to create the first Section 8-to-homeownership program in Montana, and taught homebuyer education to Russian immigrant families with an interpreter.
She joined the MBOH staff in August of 2005 as Homeownership Program Manager. During that time, she provided strong support for housing counseling, homebuyer education and foreclosure counseling through MBOH involvement in support of statewide network in NeighborWorks Montana.
She also was involved in housing policy analysis and wrote the narrative of the White Paper on Housing that now is updated regularly and serves as the housing go-to document for the entire state. Nancy has a B.A. degree from the University of Montana, an M.P.A. degree from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, a M.A. degree in Political Science and a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Montana.
Fortunately for those of us in the housing industry, Nancy intends to do some consulting work after her retirement.