Blog Archives

Viewpoint: How the Crash will Reshape America

picture-371[Source: Teresa Brice, Local Initiatives Service Corp., and Nancy Levinson, ASU Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory] — Author Richard Florida opines in the March issue of Atlantic Monthly that the crash of 2008 continues to reverberate loudly nationwide — destroying jobs, bankrupting businesses, and displacing homeowners.  But already, it has damaged some places much more severely than others.

On the other side of the crisis, America’s economic landscape will look very different than it does today.  What fate will the coming years hold for New York, Charlotte, Detroit, Las Vegas, Phoenix?  Will the suburbs be ineffably changed?  Which cities and regions can come back strong?  And which will never come back at all?  Click here to read the full article.

Sustainable Home Ownership Coalition formed by Phoenix non-profits

[Source: Teresa Brice, Local Initiatives Service Corp.] — Anticipating the magnitude of the bank-owned inventory in Arizona, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) convened a coalition of 14 community development corporations to form the Sustainable Home Ownership (SHO) coalition in 2008 in an effort to revitalize the local communities.  The result is a long-term strategy to increase the capacity of the non-profit housing sector by creating a single-source solution to match qualified buyers with available properties.

SHO provides one single point of contact for jurisdictions, real estate owned (REO) servicers and buyers.  Each of the 14 participating community development corporations brings a unique strength to the initiative, including: housing counseling, pre-purchase education, property rehabilitation, lending services, down payment assistance, and geographic reach.

The SHO initiative will provide ownership opportunities for buyers that are affordable at purchase and sustainable over the long-term which is “key to responsible communities.” Click here for information on becoming a new homeowner or to sign up for e-mail alerts.

LISC Phoenix pushes plan for creating sustainability

[Source: Arizona Republic] — Sustainable communities don’t just happen.  They take work, planning, and a web of collaborative relationships to build and grow.  That’s the message from members of the Growing Sustainable Communities in the Valley of the Sun coalition.  Teresa Brice, executive director of the Phoenix branch of the Local Initiatives Support Corp., a national non-profit agency specializing in neighborhood revitalization, said LISC is focusing on aspects of sustainable communities with examples in the Valley.

Brice, a volunteer presenting the information at village planning committees, groups, and organizations [to date 700 people at 25 venues], said the hope is that when Phoenix begins to prepare a new General Plan, its blueprint for development, some of these strategies for sustainable communities will be added.  Components include:

  • Mixed land uses
  • A variety of housing types with a variety of housing prices
  • A mix of independent and national businesses
  • Environmentally responsive design
  • A variety of transportation choices
  • Compact development
  • Making places safe
  • Promoting healthy living
  • Community engagement

For more information on the project and to view related materials, click here.  To request the presentation, call Lisa Dwyer, Project Assistant, ASU Stardust Center, at 602-496-1468. The next scheduled presentation is 6:30 p.m., October 14, Travis L. Williams Family Services Center, 4732 S. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ, 602-261-8727.

What’s the status of affordable housing in downtown Phoenix?

[Source: Teresa Brice, Local Initiatives Service Corp.] — With the fall 2008 Arizona Town Hall focusing on Arizona’s housing woes, housing advocates are busy compiling background data and information to help bring participants “up to speed” on the issue before the town hall is held.  Regarding affordable housing in and around downtown Phoenix, here are two important recent documents:

Cuts made to Arizona Housing Trust Fund

[Source: Teresa Brice, Local Initiatives Service Corp.] — I wanted to share the information LISC received on the impact on the Arizona Housing Trust Fund from the proposed state budget that is going to Governor Janet Napolitano for approval.  Essentially, it was the Senate budget, not the House version, that received approval to be sent to the Governor.  This included a $8.2 million cut to the Trust Fund (instead of the $30 million cut by the House), and $583,000 for program cuts (not $3.1 million).  There was no indication that a change in the funding formula was made.  While the session has not closed yet, this looks pretty certain.

LISC wishes to express its thanks to some groups that stepped up to its call for advocacy and sent information to their members, including AARP, Arizona Public Health AssociationArizona Bankers Association, and Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition (PAFCO).

You may want to send a note of thanks to the Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate and a special note of thanks to Republicans who supported the budget sent to the Governor: On the House side, Reps. Reagan, Burns, Hershberger, and Mason.  On the Senate side: Senators Allen, Bee, O’Halleran, and Tibshraeny.  You can use this website to find e-mail and phone numbers.  You may also want to send a quick note to the Governor to voice your opinion.

Voice your opinion on statewide transportation plan, June 11

Business, government, and civic leaders keep talking about creating sustainable communities, and some of the big components are: having a mix of transportation options, connecting land use and transportation systems so Arizonans have a way to connect housing with jobs, schools, etc., and preserving open space.

The State Transportation Board will host public hearings in June to invite public comments on a statewide transportation program developed by the Arizona Department of Transportation collaboratively with regional and local transportation partners from across the state.  Click here to preview and download a document that outlines a transportation program that would be funded through a ballot initiative filed by the TIME (Transportation and Infrastructure Moving Arizona’s Economy) Coalition.

The Phoenix public hearing will be held Wednesday, June 11, 5-7 p.m., Phoenix Convention Center West 106 B and C Meeting Rooms, 100 N. 3rd St.  For more information on the hearings, to provide comments, or for general information, click here.

If you can’t make this meeting and you still want to know more about why transportation is an important issue, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is willing to host a public event in July.  According to Teresa Brice, LISC Executive Director, “If this makes it on the ballot in November, we should know what we are voting on.  If we are going to be taxed to support it, we should know what we are getting and how we can influence future projects.”  If interested in participating in a July event, contact Teresa by e-mail or 602-252-6313.

What you can do to protect affordable housing

Due to Arizona’s budget crisis, there is a proposal by the legislature to eliminate all HTF related programs for approximately the next year and a half (sweep $55 million).  The proposal would also cripple the Arizona Housing Finance Authority, which has been highly successful in assisting rural first time homebuyers and result in the significant reduction or elimination of these types of services:

  • Mortgage foreclosure & eviction prevention assistance will stop in a time of critical need.
    • homeownership and rental housing development/rehabilitation
    • homeless and domestic violence shelter development (6,000 families lose services)
    • down payment and closing cost assistance for first time homebuyers (500 families don’t get houses)
    • fair-housing education
  • Matching monies for federal housing programs administered by the state.
  • 3,600 jobs are lost with $91 million in wages lost and $18 million in state revenues.

The response by affordable housing advocates?  They are collecting spare, unusable, orphan house keys to deliver to the State Legislature by the end of February.  The goal is to collect 45,000 keys from around the state to illustrate the number of households that have been assisted in the last five years by the State of Arizona Housing Trust Fund.  The following agencies have agreed to be collection points for your keys:

  • LISC Phoenix office, 101 N. 1st Ave., #990, Phoenix, AZ 85003
  • Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness, 2700 N. 3rd St., #201, Phoenix, AZ 85004
  • UMOM New Day Centers, 3320 E. Van Buren St., Phoenix, AZ 85008
  • Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 301 E. Bethany Home, #C-194, Phoenix, AZ 85012
  • Community Housing Resources of Arizona, 4020 N. 20th St., #220, Phoenix, AZ 85016
  • Housing Our Communities, 251 W. Main, #2, Mesa, AZ 85201
  • CARE Partnership, 460-466 S. Bellview St., Mesa, AZ 85204
  • Community Alliance Against Family Abuse, 185 N. Apache Trail, #1, Apache Junction, AZ 85220
  • NewTown CDC, 511 W. University Drive #4, Tempe, AZ 85281

Questions, comments, or suggestions? Contact:

Teresa Brice, Executive Director
LISC Phoenix
101 N. First Ave., #990
Phoenix, AZ 85003
602-252-6313
TBrice@lisc.org

Arizona’s Housing Trust Fund targeted for cuts

Fund sweeps are now being discussed by Arizona legislators and a sweep of Arizona’s Housing Trust Fund is being seriously considered.  According to advocates for the HTF, Republicans and Democrats are looking at some sort of large hit, beyond what the Governor has proposed ($6.5 million in FY08).  Republicans want to sweep near the full $55 million and Democrats are looking at some sort of alternate option beyond the Governor’s proposal, which would still have a great impact on the HTF.  Either option would be detrimental to the future of the HTF over the next two years.

Calls or e-mails to legislative leadership (Republican and Democrat) would be helpful. Legislators need to be able to put a face to these funds.  Explain how the HTF has helped a legislator’s district would be very helpful…as would how a cut might hurt their district. Points to reiterate with legislators include:

  • A $55.5 million sweep would freeze any new HTF commitments for the rest of this fiscal year, all of FY2009, and would severely cut into the program’s funding for FY2010.
  • A $55 million cut — which is an amount equal to half of the agency’s budget — would directly affect over 25,000 low and moderate Arizonans through the loss of housing programs and services.
  • The Arizona Housing Finance Authority, which relies on support from the HTF, will not be able to issue $64 million in mortgage revenue bonds already planned for this coming calendar year.  This translates into over 500 first time homebuyers who will not be assisted into homeownership at a time when assistance in this arena is critical to putting homeowners back into vacant homes.
  • Mortgage foreclosure counseling — which is so crucial a need right now — will stop.
  • The neediest populations in Arizona — victims of domestic violence and our homeless populations — will be severely underserved and in most cases requests for assistance to keep shelters open and operating will have to be denied.
  • There will no funds available for any new shelter development.
  • Eviction and foreclosure prevention, which assists over 6,000 households annually from becoming homeless, will cease, which will ultimately cost the State untold millions through the Department of Economic Security as persons seek assistance through this agency.
  • Development of new affordable rental and homeownership units for the neediest populations will grind to an abrupt halt.
  • The economic impact on the loss of $55 million in HTF should not be overlooked. Such a sweep would result in a total economic loss of almost $270 million (REMI economic analysis) to the state, including: 3,600 jobs will be lost or not created, over $91 million in wages and salaries will be lost, and over $18 million in state and local tax revenues will not be generated.

For more information, contact Teresa Brice, Executive Director, LISC/Phoenix.