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Study: Housing group adds millions to local economy

Springfield nonprofit’s work has $43M reach.

A local non-profit organization dedicated to increasing home ownership in Clark County has contributed approximately $43 million to the local economy over the last five years, according to a new study.

Neighborhood Housing Partnership of Greater Springfield has generated approximately $5 million in tax revenue during that period, sustaining 74 jobs each year and $12 million worth of income for local employees.

NHP Executive Director Tina Koumoutsos said she’s pleased the study quantified the effect the organization has in the community.

“Not that long ago I had to argue that housing was really an integral part of our economy,” Koumoutsos said. “That it had an economic impact. And, of course, with 2008 and the housing and financial collapse, that’s not an argument I have to make any more.”

Neighborhood Housing Partnership is one of three affiliated nonprofits in the region to specialize in developing affordable housing that have contributed $311 million to the economies of their home counties from 2008 to 2012 and have sustained 509 jobs during that time, according to the recent study by New England Research Group, a Vermont-based market research company.

The others are St. Mary Development Corporation of Dayton and Neighborhood Housing Services of Hamilton. They are all part of nine organizations focused on providing affordable housing that belong to the NeighborWorks Collaborative of Ohio, which sponsored the study.

The study analyzed the effects of the physical construction of affordable housing, community development activity, and counseling and educational programs to help first-time home buyers get into a sustainable home loan and homeowners who are struggling to prevent foreclosure.

Statewide, the nine nonprofits in the NeighborWorks Collaborative have generated an estimated $1.4 billion during the time period studied and sustained 2,347 jobs.

While organizations like St. Mary focus on development, NHP’s primary role in the community is financial literacy and home repair programs. NHP serves as the city’s housing development arm and recently completed the $1.8 million City View Apartments on Drexel Avenue.

They also offer a home repair program that helps employ construction workers in Springfield.

“Every time we put a roof on a house, that’s a contractor and his subcontractors and suppliers,” Koumoutsos said. “There’s a very real spinoff that goes directly back to our local economy.”

The study found that for every $1 NHP received in public and private funding, it generated $9.30 in economic benefit to the community.

Richard Stock, director of the Business Research Group at the University of Dayton, said the study underestimates the benefit to the community.

While the study attempts to account for the impact of people who would have lost their homes and moved out of the area, Stock said it does not fully cover the value of the damage to a neighborhood that does not occur when a home is not foreclosed on as a result of the counseling and outreach of these organizations.

“I think the economic impact study is extremely conservative because it does not portray some of the external impacts on neighborhoods from foreclosures avoided,” Stock said.

Organizations like St. Mary and NHP play an important role in the community, he said.

“There is a set of funds that can be pulled into communities through organizations like St. Mary Development Corporation. And if you don’t have those types of corporations, you’re not going to get those funds.”

NHP is funded through public sector support from Neighborworks America, Housing and Urban Development, Community Development Block Grant funds and private foundations.

NHP offers services to a six-county region including Clark, Champaign, Greene, Logan Auglaize and Putnam counties. They’ve facilitated approximately $49 million in first mortgages with lending partners.

NHP also serves as a full-cycle lender, meaning it can provide more support services than traditional lenders.

“That’s what we’re here for is to provide that extra credit counseling or to get a home buyer credit worthy,” Koumoutsos said. “What we really strive to do with our partnerships is when somebody comes in and they’re not able to qualify for a mortgage initially, don’t say no, say not yet.”

Shannon Meadows, the city’s community development director, said NHP provides excellent counseling services to the community and prospective home owners, regardless of circumstances.

“It’s critical and very important in today’s economy and society,” Meadows said.

The city recently used $150,000 in Neighborhood Stabilization money to buy 14 lots at NHP’s Clifton Court development on Clifton Avenue, across from the former South High School.

The project began in 2008 but stalled due to the economic recession. NHP will continue to market the lots until the middle of next year.

Meadows said work continues on the development, despite no construction taking place. NHP works with individuals who may be on the path to building a home, not just people looking to avoid foreclosure.

“It doesn’t get exciting for everyone else until you start seeing the sticks go up into the ground,” Meadows said. “It doesn’t mean there aren’t exciting things happening.”

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