Urban Land Conservancy celebrates the achievements of our partnerships that create and preserve nonprofit facilities and affordable housing for communities in Metro Denver. ULC’s Monthly Partner Spotlight is awarded to partners who demonstrate the value of collaboration, furthering our mission to improve the lives of Metro Denver residents through our real estate investments and community assets.

Congratulations to our August 2019 Partner Spotlight of the Month:  NeighborWorks America!

Neighborworks America

Founded in 1978 in an effort to encourage and support community development and increase affordable housing, NeighborWorks America is a member-based organization supporting nearly 250 organizations across the United States, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. NeighborWorks traces its origins to Dorothy Mae Richardson, an African-American resident of North Pittsburgh who advocated for quality, stable housing in her neighborhood; subsequently creating the modern day community development model.

As her neighborhood grew into disarray due to a lack of investment from local financial institutions, Richardson led a community charge to spur economic investment and rehabilitate the homes in her neighborhood. As the success of Richardson’s model grew, Congress created the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (today known as NeighborWorks America) in 1978. The organization recently celebrated 40 years of community-based work, providing individuals with the support needed to find safe and stable housing, ultimately strengthening thousands of communities across the country.

“NeighborWorks America offers critical resources to nonprofits and communities. Whether it is grants to our network organizations, opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, professional development programs or training institutes, we take the mission of advancing community development very seriously,” says Marietta Rodriguez, NeighborWorks America President & CEO.

Photo Courtesy: NeighborWorks America
Photo Courtesy: NeighborWorks America

Headquartered in Washington D.C. with regional offices in Denver, Kansas City, New York, Boston and Atlanta, NeighborWorks has more than 250 staff members. As a member-based network, NeighborWorks provides training, grants, technical assistance and additional similar resources to hundreds of organizations each year.

Urban Land Conservancy (ULC) has long supported and partnered with NeighborWorks America. ULC staff members regularly attend trainings hosted three times each year by the NeighborWorks Training Institute (NTI). Launched in 1987 due to local appeal for increased grassroots community development, NTI hosted its first training in Los Angeles, California with 180 attendees. Today, NeighborWorks is the largest trainer of community development nonprofits in the country. In 2018, NeighborWorks awarded more than 14,500 training certificates across all disciplines to staff members of more than 3,000 organizations across the country.

The five-day trainings are traditionally hosted in major U.S. cities, with past trainings held in cities including New Orleans, San Diego and Seattle. According to NeighborWorks, the conferences “are very topic – and skill -focused. Participants spend the majority of their time in intensive classes with 10-30 fellow learners. At each NTI, you’re offered a selection of more than 100 courses, a one-day symposium on a pressing topic, free after-course workshops on innovative tools and methods, and abundant peer networking opportunities.”

NeighborWorks also offers place-based training, requested by a community and hosted locally to minimize travel costs and encourage local collaboration.  ULC recently partnered with NeighborWorks to host a two-day, place-based training in Denver, Colorado. In alignment with our mission, ULC recognizes the power behind a supportive community and the dedicated partners needed to successfully develop affordable housing. ULC received generous grant funding and in-kind donations from NeighborWorks, The Colorado Health Foundation and Northern Trust to ensure the two-day course was completely free to our community partners.

Photo Courtesy: NeighborWorks America
Photo Courtesy: NeighborWorks America

“The Basic Steps of the Affordable Housing Development Process” led participants through the fundamental steps of affordable housing development including site selection, project feasibility, development team selection, budget design and financing.  The goal of the course was to provide a foundation for new project managers and provide executive directors, nonprofit developers, board members, grass root organizations, and others working in affordable housing the core knowledge that will allow them to better expand affordable housing development.

“For more than 40 years, NeighborWorks has created opportunities to support communities through training, technical assistance and grant funding,” said Renee Desai, NeighborWorks America Senior Relationship Manager. “As a former Urban Land Conservancy Board Member, I have long recognized ULC’s critical role in the community to create and preserve affordable housing across the region. There is deep alignment between our respective organizations, and I was thrilled to see ULC’s hosting a place-based NeighborWorks training earlier this summer.”

Outside of the training institute, NeighborWorks has realized a major impact on the creation and preservation of both for-sale and rental housing. In 2018, NeighborWorks member organizations supported more than 25,000 new homeowners and owned and/or managed 166,883 rental units.

To date, there are seven organizations in Colorado that belong to NeighborWorks’ growing member network. Neighbor to Neighbor, based out of Fort Collins, Colorado provides services to individuals and families experiencing housing instability. Services include homebuyer education, foreclosure prevention, homeshare programming and rental assistance.  In 2018, the nonprofit secured 1,238 homes, assisted 90% of their clients achieve long term housing stability and prevented homelessness for more than 600 families.

As the need for stable and affordable housing continues to grow on an unprecedented scale, NeighborWorks remains a critical resource for millions of individuals and families. The affordable housing crisis is directly impacting more than 200,000 cost burdened households in Colorado alone, a stark representation of the national housing crisis. According to research from advocacy group “Home1”, an estimated 11 million Americans spend more than half of their paycheck on rent.

“NeighborWorks is a national leader in the field of community development and training,” said Aaron Miripol, President & CEO of Urban Land Conservancy. “As the affordable housing crisis continues to grow on a local, statewide and national level, hundreds of organizations look to NeighborWorks for the support necessary to carry out their missions and make a positive impact in local communities across the country.”

Since their inception in 1978, NeighborWorks strives to ensure individuals, families and communities thrive through comprehensive approaches to affordable housing and community development. In 40 years, NeighborWorks (in partnership with their member network) has invested $70 billion into local communities and acquired, created and preserved over 150,000 rental homes. As NeighborWorks continues to grow their network and expand opportunities to disadvantaged communities across the country, we look forward to continued partnership to increase our join impact in the future.