Partners (Spring 1997)


Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans Celebrates 20 Years of Service

Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans, Inc. was founded in 1977 as a private nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation that works to revitalize declining neighborhoods and provide affordable housing opportunities. It was established on the premise that a partnership of neighborhood residents, financial institutions, businesses and local government can stop the decline of, promote reinvestment in, and restore pride and confidence in urban neighborhoods.

NHS of New Orleans, Inc. (NHS) is part of a nationwide network of NHS programs known as NeighborWorks. The NHS is a part of a national initiative launched by the NeighborWorks Network to create 10,000 first time home buyers by 1998. In the first 36 months of the campaign, members of the NeighborWorks Network have assisted 6,530 people in becoming home owners. NHS of New Orleans is the seventh highest producer in the national Network.

The NHS mission is to revitalize New Orleans neighborhoods by reducing the number of substandard or vacant houses and by increasing the number of homeowners.

In 1992, NHS began its Campaign for Home Ownership because it realized that increasing the number of homeowners in the city was necessary for the preservation and revitalization of its neighborhoods. Since then, NHS has assisted people in becoming first time home buyers through a program that offers both individual counseling and classroom training.

Loan pre-qualification and counseling is designed to help clients determine how much they are able to borrow to buy a home. If clients have problems with their credit or they lack savings, NHS helps them develop a plan to overcome these obstacles. Very often, a person who does not qualify initially for a loan will be able to qualify within six months to a year. NHS provided counseling for 453 families in 1995.

Neighborhood Housing Services
Pictured above are before and after photographs of a Franfort St. home renovated by NHS of New Orleans. Financing was provided by Banc One and city CDBG funds.

Home ownership training includes twelve hours of classroom instruction taught by lenders, realtors, appraisers, insurance representatives, credit counselors and NHS staff to prepare first-time home buyers for the realities of buying, rehabilitating and maintaining a home. Training is offered in the NHS office each month. In 1995, 299 individuals graduated from the NHS classes.

Financial assistance is also available to qualified low-income clients in the form of amortized, low-interest second mortgage loans. While these loans must be repaid on a monthly basis, the interest rate does not exceed 3%. NHS often provides these loans in tandem with a conventional lender, using public funds to leverage private resources. NHS also provides loans to low-income homeowners, along with counseling and construction management services to facilitate the renovation of their homes. NHS originated and closed 19 rehabilitation loans in 1995, and currently has 129 loans in its loan portfolio with a total value of $2,022,727.

In 1995, 171 individuals became first-time home buyers through the assistance provided by NHS. Their average income was $22,438, significantly less than the $34,700 median income for New Orleans. NHS assistance resulted in $7,382,077 in first mortgage loans. The average loan amount was $51,264.

NHS's and similar programs have been developed in concert with the local/private sector by the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (NRC), headquartered in Washington, DC, with regional offices located throughout the country. NRC is a congressionally funded nonprofit corporation whose board of directors is comprised of top representatives of the financial regulatory agencies including the Federal Reserve Board, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of Thrift Supervision, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

For more information about the NHS of New Orleans, contact Lauren Anderson, Executive Director, at 504/899-5900.


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