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New report shows NHP’s impact

Housing organization has helped residents purchase $53.9 million in mortgages since 2002.

Neighborhood Housing Partnership of Greater Springfield has helped residents purchase 691 homes worth approximately $53.3 million in mortgages since 2002, according to a new in-house report.

NHP, which is funded through the federal government and other local partners, has also helped homeowners save 698 mortgages worth approximately $53.9 million in that time period through its foreclosure prevention program.

While the agency’s education programs have been successful, the housing market crash of 2008 has forced the agency to be “really conservative” with the development of its bricks and mortar construction projects, including the Clifton Court Development on Clifton Ave., according to executive director Tina Koumoutsos.

The agency, which offers several programs — including homebuyer education, foreclosure prevention, credit counseling and emergency home repairs among others — recently compiled a study of its performance over the last 12 years to show to its partners.

NHP offers services to a six-county region covering Clark, Champaign, Greene, Logan, Auglaize and Putnam counties.

“We really wanted to show the impact we’ve had on the community,” Koumoutsos said. “We wanted our partners to understand they’re a big part of the success to this community, too.”

Approximately 51 percent of the people who have participated in homebuyer education courses since 2002 have purchased homes, according to records.

NHP’s primary function is education, but its also serves as the city’s community housing development organization, Koumoutsos said.

Approximately 2,347 people have enrolled in homebuyer education and credit counseling classes since 2002, according to the study.

“It’s the most important activity we offer the community,” Koumoutsos said. “People always get excited about bricks and mortar projects and they’re wonderful. It’s instant gratification to see a new house in a neighborhood, but we can impact so many more families with the right education and counseling.”

The study shows the majority of their clients come from low-income families.

Springfield resident Tiffany Wanzo, who moved to the area from Denver, Colo., six years ago, participated in the homebuyer education classes three times before purchasing her home on Dibert Avenue last year.

Wanzo had been renting the house while it was being foreclosed on from a previous owner, and later bought it from Fannie Mae. She said she’s paying less for her home now than she did while she was renting it. She’s referred other low-income individuals to NHP as well.

“If you’ve never bought a house, you don’t know where to start or begin,” Wanzo said. “It’s all the information that you need.”

Through its foreclosure counseling program, approximately 698 homes have been saved, including 149 in 2013, according to the report.

The biggest impact comes through taking the stress off families facing foreclosure, Koumoutsos said. The lost homes could have led to more vacant properties, which reduces property values for other homeowners and creates more high weeds and trash in neighborhoods.

“What would’ve happened if we hadn’t been there?” Koumoutsos said. “Instead of all those homes that continued to be occupied by homeowners, what if those homes went into foreclosure?”

In 2008, NHP and the Building Industry Association partnered to develop Clifton Court, a development of approximately 18 homes on Clifton Avenue in Springfield, believed to be the first subdivision built in the city in 50 years. However, after the housing market crashed, the development lagged and the BIA pulled out the project.

Five homes are currently located in the development, according to NHP records. Last year, the city purchased 14 lots for $150,000 with NSP funds to infuse some money into the project, which NHP continues to market to prospective buyers.

“We’ll have the vacant land available and we’ll be looking at what funding is available and put our heads together to see if we can’t continue to create some investment there,” Koumoutsos said.

Koumoutsos said the housing market crash in 2008 brought “everything to a standstill” concerning construction, including NHP’s bricks and mortar projects.

“In the past, we might’ve done more building on spec without a buyer in place,” Koumoutsos said. “It’s something we’re looking hard at as far as our strategic planning in the future.”

As part of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, the agency built the $1.8 million, 12-unit City View Apartments on Drexel Avenue, which opened in 2012. It also built seven homes as part of the NSP 3 project. She said the funding for construction is currently not at the same level as it was previously through NSP.

NHP has an operating budget of approximately $700,000 and also receives funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It recently received a $111,500 grant from NeighborWorks America, a federal partnership between community, public and private stakeholders which helps families avoid foreclosure.

According to study released last year, NHP, a full-cycle lender, also contributed approximately $43 million to the local economy over the last five years.

The agency’s local partners include the city, Turner Foundation, Springfield Foundation and the Department of Job and Family Services.

Springfield Foundation helped NHP get off the ground in its early days, said executive director Ted Vander Roest, and it still provides funding to the agency.

“They fill that void,” Vander Roest said. “There’s no one else who really does what they do. A lot of people probably don’t know about them.”

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