People & Places: Part 4 (of 4)

CEDAM’s national partner NACEDA, along with several other organizations, hosted the People & Places Conference in Washington D.C. March 4-6 bringing together community-based organizations from every corner of the country to showcase the effectiveness, resolve and passion of those working daily to improve lives in America’s most challenged neighborhoods. This was an opportunity to share what’s working in your community, inspire one another and raise your voice on behalf of the community that you serve. Thanks to NACEDA, we were able to provide scholarship assistance to four CEDAM members to attend. Over the next few weeks, we will hear from each of those members about their experiences at the conference in this blog series.

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The third in the four part series is by Aaron Goodman, the Community Engagement Manager at CDAD. 

People & Places

by Aaron Goodman

Last month, with the generous support of CEDAM, I had the privilege to travel to Washington D.C. and attend a convening of community development practitioners from across the county, the People & Places Community Conference. The conference title was truly apt and set the stage for workshops and discussions emphasizing community development’s mandate to not only build healthy and vibrant places in underserved neighborhoods, but to do so in true partnership and collaboration with the people who live, work, and play in the community.

The conference was an amazing opportunity to discuss the big ideas and principles of community development, breaking down silos between sectors within the industry, and focusing on the truly transformational potential of our work.  The lofty ideals were grounded in great breakout sessions focused on learning from the successes and challenges of so many inspiring advocates and leaders engaged in the real world work of building opportunity and community assets and power.

While attending the conference, I actively shared the experience via CDAD’s twitter account. To get a taste of the presentations and conversations that took place, please view this Storify from my three days at People and Places.

Coming from CDAD, Detroit’s association of community development organizations, I was eager to learn from those engaged in new models of community development across the country and look forward to applying this experience to our work in Detroit. With tracks focusing on “Community Control”, “Capital Flow”, “Neighborhood Level Economies”, and “Thriving People”, the breadth and depth of topics covered did not disappoint. The following are three of the recurring themes and learnings that I found most compelling throughout the conference.

Racial Justice and Building a Diverse and Inclusive Community Development Movement

People and Places was brought about by a unique collaboration of the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA), the National Urban League, the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB), and the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD). In the opening plenary, NALCAB Director Noel Poyo stated that community development is “the next step in the civil rights movement” and the intentional leadership of these organizations focused the dialogue on racial justice both within the formal program and in informal conversations. Because so many community development organizations work and invest in communities of color that have faced decades of discrimination, segregation, red-lining, and disinvestment, our movement in inextricably bound with struggles for inclusion and justice both historical and present day. Community development has to walk the talk and working for racial justice does not just happen “out” in the community. Representation and inclusion of the communities we aim to serve must be ever-present in how our organizations operate internally as well. We often observe in Detroit and Michigan that community development organizations need to do a better job of hiring and developing leaders that reflect the communities they serve. The participants at People and Places demonstrated what the result of a concerted effort to recruit, hire, and develop talented community builders could be. It was truly inspiring to meet so many passionate and dedicated young leaders of color at the conference, who are doing the work to expand opportunities for decent housing, economic inclusion, and strong communities.

Transactions and Transforming Communities

The truth is that much of the day to day in the professional field of community development focuses on transactions: fulfilling program requirement to deliver community services, completing a real-estate deal to build affordable housing, seeking funding sources to keep the doors open. This was a recurring theme during the conference, as speakers and panels urged us to consider if such ‘transactions’ are serving the overall goal for creating transformation in our communities. Transactions are a necessary reality, but lose meaning if residents do not have access to participate and act as stakeholders in the process. At the heart of community development is the movement to put development decisions and future of neighborhoods in the hands of the residents. As a true community-led movement, we must re-emphasize organizing, community building, and engagement to ensure that the residents of the historically disinvested neighborhoods we work in are able to define their future and seize the opportunities to create more just and inclusive communities.

Community Development Response to Gentrification

Gentrification was a hot topic throughout the conference and was a particular focus of the ‘Community Control’ session track. There was robust discussion of the policy decisions that are driving rising housing costs in “hot market” cities such as D.C. and San Francisco and how community advocates and development organizations are working to preserve affordability and communities vulnerable to cultural and physical displacement. Examples such as negotiating for community benefits agreements (Sommerville , MA and soon in Detroit), establishing an affordable housing trust fund (funded for more than $100 million in D.C.), and creating Eco-Districts (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and coming to Detroit) were highlighted as community-based strategies to expand low and moderate-income housing options for those who are threatened by rising development pressures. The role of community planning and support for implementing these community identified priorities was emphasized as important for improving quality of life while also ensuring future inclusion as market conditions change. Community planning is a very important part of our work at CDAD and it was great to learn about the successes of Cornerstone West CDC in Wilmington, DE in creating the West Side Grows together Plan and then implementing the community’s vision. The nature of community change is certainly different in Detroit from other cities, and it is even a point of contention whether gentrification is happening in the city. However, it is clear that in target areas of intense investment such as Midtown and Downtown, housing costs are rising quickly and the threat of displacement for long-time residents is real. We are seeing the beginning stages of a process that has played out in the “hot market” cities. However, we also have a great opportunity in Detroit to proactively manage and plan for development differently and in a way that protects and includes existing low-income communities. It is the natural role for community development organizations to take this opening and to create inclusive communities of opportunity for all, and the time is now for Detroiters to take the lead.


People & Places: Part 3 (of 4)

CEDAM’s national partner NACEDA, along with several other organizations, hosted the People & Places Conference in Washington D.C. March 4-6 bringing together community-based organizations from every corner of the country to showcase the effectiveness, resolve and passion of those working daily to improve lives in America’s most challenged neighborhoods. This was an opportunity to share what’s working in your community, inspire one another and raise your voice on behalf of the community that you serve. Thanks to NACEDA, we were able to provide scholarship assistance to four CEDAM members to attend. Over the next few weeks, we will hear from each of those members about their experiences at the conference in this blog series.

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The third in the four part series is by Char Seise, the Neighborhood Development Coordinator with the City of Grand Haven

People & Places

by Char Seise

Have you ever tried to live within your means? If so, you’ll know that it is difficult because the kids get sick, the car breaks down or that old bill collector finds your new phone number. Maybe you have never had this experience personally, but many of the clients we work with struggle daily regarding their finances. So, what do you do? Many have found success in budget counseling through a local non-profit agency. But experience has shown budget counseling is different than Financial Coaching.

Financial Coaching is the process of working one on one with a qualified professional financial advocate that can help a person understand their finances in a way that will prepare them for making financial decisions for a lifetime. Financial Empowerment Coaches work with individuals to establish goals for savings, debt reduction, improving credit and evaluating financial products.

At the People and Places conference, I had the opportunity to present with other panelists from LISC and NEIGHBORWORKS about the value of integrating Financial Coaching services into existing programs and services. All clients that participate in the City of Grand Haven’s programs are expected to meet with a financial empowerment coach and establish their individual financial goals. Whether looking for down payment assistance to purchase a home or dealing with a financial crisis, residents within our county have access to FREE, personalized one on one coaching to set them up for achieving their financial goals.

Thank you NACEDA for the opportunity to meet other professionals that care about their communities and for bringing us all together to learn, grow and be inspired to continue this work and make a difference in our communities!

Arts & Culture Helping Michigan Communities

In a recent blog post, we introduced creative placemaking as a positive outlet to understand, interact and connect with our communities through arts and culture, otherwise known as the creative sector. To further dive into the benefits of the integration of arts & culture into communities, I attended the Creative Convergence on March 19 at Eastern Michigan University hosted by the Arts Alliance and partners working to leverage and promote the creative sector.

The Creative Convergence


The road to vibrant communities relies on the intersection of Michigan’s creative, economic development, education, environment, health, government, philanthropic, placemaking and tourism sectors. The creative sector is at the forefront of the next phase of Michigan communities, with opportunities to strengthen the economy with big social impacts. Thought leaders and innovators from across the country led sessions devoted to describing best practices, common challenges and potential solutions to attract jobs, talent and offer residents a creative place to live.

Success Story Highlights Include:

  • Requiring a percentage of construction and development costs to be allocated for public art that is innovative and thought provoking.
  • Partnering with an environmental policy issue to pass legislation establishing a steady revenue source dedicated to the creative sector.
  • Strengthening a city’s brand and marketing campaign to establish cultural destinations.
  • Establishing an educational platform for creative individuals to learn skills and give back to their communities and spark innovation
full report: http://www.creativemany.org/creativestatenonprofit/

Click to view the full report.

The Creative Sector Helps Communities

From the perspective of a community finding and articulating their voice, arts and culture helps to express values, build bridges and find ways to connect with one another. The arts help support local businesses, stimulate job growth and drives tourism.

Proof in the Numbers

  • Michigan arts & cultural organizations welcomed 25,785,806 visitors, as reported by the Creative Many 2015 nonprofit report. That is enough to fill Comerica Park 618 times.
  • The Michigan creative community had $595,362,649 in direct expenditures in fiscal year 2012.
  • There are 25,900 jobs in the creative industry in Michigan with $199,690,556 in salaries and $15 million in payroll taxes.
  • Research done by the University of Pennsylvania has demonstrated that cities with a high concentration of the arts have more social cohesion, higher civic engagement, higher child well-being and lower poverty rates. (data source: Americans for the Arts)

It’s clear that supporting the creative sector in your community is an advantageous pursuit for the people within it and those you hope will visit. How does your community support arts and culture?

Missed the Creative Convergence? The Detroit Public Television’s recording from the day is available on the Arts Alliance website.



Delray Neighborhood, Detroit

Delray resident Scott Brines points at a house in the neighborhood. “This house should be white.”


The house is located near a metal processing plant, one of many different industries that at this point have practically consumed the Delray neighborhood. Scott looks at the rust-tinted house. “People have been breathing in that fine metal dust for years and years.”

The scene is from the mini documentary Living with Industry: Detroit, Michigan, recently released by Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD).

Anyone who knows Detroit realizes Delray doesn’t represent every area of the city – especially not places that are flourishing and the neighborhoods far from the factories – but it does make for a depressing caricature of a dying neighborhood. Historically the area was zoned mostly as commercial despite the fact it was then heavily populated by residents. As industry grew, the waterfront disappeared and the neighborhood became more isolated from the rest of the city many chose to leave. The residents who remain today do so because it’s their home. That, or they don’t have the resources to move. Considering what people know about the effects of heavy industry on health, on the health of their children, who would stay if they truly had a choice?

delray2Another neighborhood resident shows a picture her daughter drew of car exhaust clouding over their home. The local Reverend says the area has the highest rate of asthma in a City that already has a rate 1.5x that of anywhere else in the state. Addition of a new bridge to Canada will result in demolition and relocation of 700 residents. Those left will breathe in twice the amount of car emissions from increased traffic.

But what would this riverfront neighborhood look like if, before all those industries located there, they implemented Community Benefits Agreements? If every one of the industries contributed directly to the neighborhood in the form of jobs, investment, or amenities? This gets to the argument of the video: without Community Benefits Agreements, residents may see none of the benefit and all of the cost of living near large footprint industry. Without an Agreement in place, the end result is Delray.

Residents today continue to seek fair treatment and improved quality of life through organized groups like the Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition.

The film is available online at https://youtu.be/912_5FjcO1E.

People & Places: Part 2 (of 4)

CEDAM’s national partner NACEDA, along with several other organizations, hosted the People & Places Conference in Washington D.C. March 4-6 bringing together community-based organizations from every corner of the country to showcase the effectiveness, resolve and passion of those working daily to improve lives in America’s most challenged neighborhoods. This was an opportunity to share what’s working in your community, inspire one another and raise your voice on behalf of the community that you serve. Thanks to NACEDA, we were able to provide scholarship assistance to four CEDAM members to attend. Over the next few weeks, we will hear from each of those members about their experiences at the conference in this blog series.

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The second in the four part series is by Denise Paquette who works with the Allen Neighborhood Center in Lansing.

People & Places

by Denise Paquette

On March 6, I attended the People & Places Conference in Washington D.C. There, I participated in the Thriving People Sessions, focusing on healthy and age-friendly communities.

Healthy Communities

The Healthy Communities Kickoff began the day featuring panelists from the Mission Economic Development Agency, Community Catalyst and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Discussions touched on the social determinants of health and healthy communities, as well as the effect of the Affordable Care Act on funding and the role that nonprofit hospitals can play in the improvement of a community’s health. There was also a discussion about how the health people in abutting zip codes can be vastly different. An example was that in California the average age of death can vary by as much as 10 years! There is a public campaign to let residents know about this inequality, with the goal of effecting policy.

The panelists shared sources for data regarding the social and economic determinants of health. These sources include Community Connect (which maps data), Federal Reserve’s “Policy Maps,” Community Catalyst, Green Living Institute, Lincoln Land Institute, Hilltop Institute and the Wilder Foundation.

Age-Friendly Communities

The second session was Age-Friendly Communities with panelists from East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), AARP Foundation and National Center for Creative Aging.

Creative aging, or flourishing across the spectrum of aging was an interesting point of discussion. To put it in perspective, we did an exercise to consider aging to look like. A presentation followed about people who are aging in community, participating in artistic and cultural activities and are active members of their communities. This visualization tool helped us all understand that reality is far different from perception, and that aging doesn’t necessarily take form in an isolated retirement community or by living alone.

There is a trend of communities, nonprofits and faith-based communities taking over the traditional family role in caring for the aging. Health and human service agencies are addressing long-term care and the economics of the poor aging. With 10,000 people turning 65 every day, there is a need to foster age friendly lifestyles, for both human and economic reasons. There is evidence that creative aging increases health and reduces health issues as well as depression.

An important concern relates to housing and cost of housing for aging, a discussion led by the AARP Foundation described. 50% of those over 50 years old are paying more than 30% of their income for housing. The majority (90%) of this aging population wants to remain in their homes, or in age in place as it’s described. However, in order to do so, they must be in compliance with the aging in place criteria, with only 1% of housing nationwide accomplishing this. Fortunately, the AARP’s Housing Solution Center offers a variety of programs, and assistance in foreclosure prevention is one example that can help seniors be in a better position.

The NCRC discussed finance issues that affect elders. Specifically, 29% of older adult households are at economic risk, and 78% are financially vulnerable. $2.9 billion in elder financial abuse annually – this number is suspected to be lower than actual, due to the large number of unreported cases where friends and family are the perpetrators. Additionally, one-third of older adults say that they could not come up with $2,000 if there was an emergency, a scary statistic.

Age-friendly banking principals include training bank personnel in fraud prevention, customizing financial products and series such as view only accounts (so that another person can look at the account, but not access it) and no penalty accounts. Increasing accessibility by branches, hours and simple technology. Age-friendly banking is also beneficial to aging in place – examples include CAPABLE, a program in Baltimore that combines home repair with occupational and pain management, and ESOP Senior Property Tax Loan Program, which leverages private funds to loan seniors up to $5,000 for property tax payment assistance (so homes are not lost due to property tax arrearages).

Finally, the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation discussed the agency’s strategic plan based on the social determinants of health. As mentioned earlier, place has an effect on health. The agency focused on a 1 ½ mile corridor, with a goal of making it an age-friendly corridor. At either end of the corridor, the neighborhoods had gentrified. The agency conducted a community assessment, developed leadership, trained and engaged residents in civic advocacy and offered mini-grants to residents. In a two year time frame 43 leaders were trained, 225 individuals received services, and $7,000 was awarded to mini-grant recipients.

Lessons learned included:

  • Value of being present in senior housing center – even if people don’t participate in a class that is being held in a common area, as they are in the common area and are hearing what is being discussed.
  • Program barriers are usually also age friendly barriers (location of services, times of day, etc)
  • Intergenerational and integrated programs offer more to the seniors

Additional thoughts from the session:

  • Banking is a BIG deal
  • Intergenerational development includes housing, libraries, banks, etc
  • Neighbors as caregivers – this can be a way for neighbors to be employed, and provide services to those aging in community.
  • PACE – (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) is a Medicare and Medicaid program that helps people meet their health care needs in the community instead of going to a nursing home or other care facility.

Overall, this session was inspiring and gave me ideas to share with a group of senior women who feel that they cannot age in place in their current homes, but do want to age in the neighborhood. I am going to share the information that I learned at the session, to help them as they start to make decisions on how they want to proceed.

People & Places: Part 1 (of 4)

CEDAM’s national partner NACEDA, along with several other organizations, hosted the People & Places Conference in Washington D.C. March 4-6 bringing together community-based organizations from every corner of the country to showcase the effectiveness, resolve and passion of those working daily to improve lives in America’s most challenged neighborhoods. This was an opportunity to share what’s working in your community, inspire one another and raise your voice on behalf of the community that you serve. Thanks to NACEDA, we were able to provide scholarship assistance to four CEDAM members to attend. Over the next few weeks, we will hear from each of those members about their experiences at the conference in this blog series.

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The first in the four part series is by Rosa Robinson who serves as a Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Corps Member at Elder Law in Lansing.

People & Places

by Rosa Robinson

When I attended the first People and Places conference in Washington, DC, I had no idea what to expect. The 2.5 day conference was comprised of sessions on neighborhood/economic development, gentrification, racial justice and building small businesses. Individuals from practitioners to elected officials from across the country attended the event to network and learn effective community building strategies.

I attended sessions that addressed head on the disparities in neighborhood development such as substandard/unaffordable housing, racial profiling, and limited entrepreneurial opportunities. Strategies were also discussed. The strategies included advocacy work, forming coalitions, reframing public policy, creating affordable housing and the need to change the political environment. The conversations were thought-provoking and at times spirited. The conference showed me that this epidemic is real and it affects everyone. Fortunately, there are people who recognize that and are fanatical about seeking justice for underrepresented communities. It was evident that even though strides have been made to help communities thrive, we still have a long way to go.

Creative Placemaking in Michigan


Hiawatha, the World’s Largest Indian in Ironwood, Michigan

If you could bring anything to your neighborhood, what would it be? Are arts and culture a part of your vision to improve quality of life, attract business and make your community livable and memorable? If so, consider creative placemaking and the funding and resources below as a way to achieve your goals!

What Is Placemaking?
Michigan is a leader in the national placemaking movement to address years of disinvestment, declining economies and thoughtless strip malls affecting neighborhoods. People want to live in places that feel special to them, have things to do, jobs, transportation and diversity. Placemaking is a strategy to create these livable places by bringing out the unique assets of a community and filling in any asset gaps.

Creative Placemaking
Creative placemaking is a type of placemaking that focuses on the integration of arts and cultural activities through comprehensive community planning. Typically a development plan includes land-use, transportation, education, economic development, housing and

Miners Memorial Mural in Ironwood, Michigan

Miners Memorial Mural in Ironwood, Michigan

infrastructure, but alone these elements do not necessarily get at the heart of what makes your community special.

Including arts and culture in a development plan creates an opportunity to interact with identity, culture and history and thereby the distinct character of a community. Arts and culture encourages people to express themselves, try new things and participate. Excellent examples of this include Art Prize in Grand Rapids, the rotating

sculpture display in Hastings chosen by community members, inclusion of arts and culture in the Flint Master Plan and the Sugar Hills Arts District in Detroit. The National Endowment for the Arts features creative placemaking initiatives nationwide on their website.


Houghton, Michigan

Supporting Creative Placemaking in Michigan
Creative placemaking builds opportunity-rich, resilient communities that attract business development, tourism and inspire people to move there and be more successful. Think about where your family chooses to vacation, where your kids take field trips and where you spend your time, either for business or personal reasons. Do you live in or near a place that has those features?

How can some of those choices play into the overall design of the community you choose to live in, and what do you need to do to build the partnerships, education and funding surrounding these plans to increase the effectiveness and success?

REO Town branding 5

Lansing, Michigan

Collaborative efforts are imperative for any amount of success. Organizations or communities should always engage with similar organizations, neighborhood groups, municipalities and other partners based on the specific attributes of the project or plan.

Funding Opportunities
The National Endowment for the Arts program Our Town is specifically designed to advance creative placemaking efforts. They offer grants toward creative placemaking projects and a variety of other educational resources. ArtPlace America is a national collaborative made up of a variety of foundations and funders, and works to advance comprehensive community planning and the arts. They also have a variety of grants available, and while they are currently focusing on key geographic areas, there are other opportunities regularly available. The Creative Many is a 501c(4) membership organization in Michigan that works to advance the creative sector. It is a great place for resources and education.

Wait and See
Creative Placemaking efforts will continue to grow in Michigan and across the nation. With such rich history and diverse assets in Michigan, we look forward to seeing many wonderful things.

Lansing SAVEs For the Future


Earlier this year 365 kindergarten students in the Lansing School District received a seed investment in their future. Each student was automatically enrolled in an education savings account by the City of Lansing.

Lansing SAVE (or Student Accounts Valuing Education) is the first universal, automatic education savings platform in Michigan, a joint initiative of the City of Lansing, the Lansing School District and Michigan State University Federal Credit Union. Moving forward, every entering class of kindergarteners at LSD will be enrolled in education savings accounts.


Kindergarteners on Lansing SAVE launch day

You can watch (and hear!) the excitement of the kindergarteners on launch day when they heard they were each getting an account to help them continue school beyond high school graduation. Lansing SAVE is designed to harness that excitement and give kids and their families a tangible way to save and plan for the costs of college and other postsecondary opportunities. Students, parents and other family and friends can deposit into students’ accounts any time at MSUFCU branch locations, online, by mail or direct deposit. What’s more, students will receive in-school financial education and parents will be linked to financial empowerment services in the community, such as free financial counseling and free tax assistance.

Opting kids into education savings accounts became a priority when research found students with dedicated education savings are four times more likely to attend and complete a post-secondary degree. This finding is especially important for low income students, as currently less than one in ten will complete a degree by age 26. In contrast, about a third of low income students with college savings complete a degree.

Lansing SAVE follows a national trend of local and state governments automatically investing in student’s post-secondary education through seeded savings accounts, starting in 2010 when the City of San Francisco launched Kindergarten to College. Since then several state and local governments have followed suit, including Nevada, Maine and Cuyahoga County in Ohio.

The opt-out vs. opt-in structure of this new trend of education savings programs is a critical component. Many opt-in programs have take-up rates of 10% or less. While people may have the best intentions, life gets in the way. Creating an automatic enrollment structure removes this barrier and ensures programs touch nearly every child.

CEDAM hopes Lansing SAVE is just the beginning of community-based education savings platforms in Michigan. Already, the Barry Community Foundation in Barry County has stepped up to lead a similar, county-wide education savings platform to launch in Fall 2015. CEDAM provides technical assistance to both Lansing and Barry County for these initiatives and is looking to help new communities create their own education savings platforms.

If you’re interested in bringing this model to your community, please contact Megan Kursik at kursik@cedam.info.

Save the Date – August 5, 2015

CEDAM will host the second annual Michigan Financial Empowerment Summit on August 5, 2015, to focus on education savings platforms and feature Jose Cisneros, Treasurer of the City and County of San Francisco, as our keynote speaker. Registration will be available soon.



The National Housing Trust Fund


The Gateway Senior Apartment project in Fremont, Michigan. The building was repurposed from an old abandoned school into affordable housing for Michigan seniors.

Part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act, the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) became law on July 30, 2008. The NHTF is a federal program for collecting and distributing dedicated funds as a block grant to the states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories. The purpose of the NHTF is to increase and preserve the supply of housing, principally rental housing for extremely low income households.

The NHTF was to receive .042% of its start up funds from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. However, funding was suspended when the 2008 banking crisis hit and was not lifted until January 1, 2015. On December 11, 2014, FHFA Director Mel Watt sent letters to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac informing them he was terminating the temporary suspension of the allocation the companies are to make to the NHTF. The companies were directed to begin setting aside the required funds in FY2015 and each year thereafter.

In accordance with the NHTF formula, funds will be distributed to states based on the following:

  • Shortage of rental properties affordable and available to extremely low income (ELI) and very low income (VLI) households
    • ELI is considered to be less than 30% of area median income
    • VLI is considered to be between 30% and 50% of area median income
  • Number of ELI and VLI renter households paying more than 50% of their income for rent and utilities
  • Priority is given to ELI households

The amount of money that each states gets will depend on the individual state’s affordable rental housing market. However, each state and DC will receive a minimum of $3 million. Moreover, states must choose a state agency to administer its program, and it can be administered in the form of loans, grants, interest subsidies, and equity investment. The money must be committed within two years and spent within five.

NHTF is majorly focused on ELI households. In fact, when there is less than $1 billion in funding, 100% of the funds must benefit ELI. When there is more than $1 billion available than a minimum of 75% must benefit ELI and the other 25% can be allocated to VLI households.

NHTF law requires strict guidelines:

  • At least 90% of a state’s NHTF money be used to produce, preserve, rehabilitate, and operate rental housing
  • Up to 10% may be used for homeowner activities
  • 75% of a state’s NHTF used for rental housing benefit ELI households, or households with income below poverty level
  • Limits to 25%, the amount of a state’s NHTF used for rental housing to benefit VLI households
  • No more than 10% may be used for homeowners
  • The money may be used to help first-time homebuyers with down payment and closing cost assistance

Furthermore, households must meet the following requirements in order to be eligible for NHTF funds:

  • Household income at or below VLI
  • Be first-time homebuyer
  • Have homeownership counseling
  • Use as principal residence
  • Home must be occupied by an income-eligible for at least 30 years
  • Grantee has options if home is sold before 30 years

Allocations will be based on:

  • Geographic diversity
  • Extent rents affordability
  • The amount of time the apartment will remain affordable
  • The merit of the project
  • Applicant’s ability to obligate money and carry out projects in a timely way
  • Extent project will use non-federal funds

Generally, NHTF funds are designed to help those who are in ELI households. For more information, visit the website here.

Housing Trust Funds in Michigan

The Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund (MHCDF) was established in 2008 but it currently has no dedicated funding. One of CEDAM’s top priority policy goals is to find and secure dedicated funding for the Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund. Over the next few years, much of our energy will be devoted to developing and maintaining a stable funding source in order to allow the MHCDF to meet the housing and community economic development needs of Michigan neighborhoods and communities.

Read CEDAM’s blog post about the MHCDF: Funding Housing: A Look at the Michigan Housing Trust Fund and watch Episode 15: MHCDF of the Bright Side Television Show to understand more about how it works and some of the projects that are a direct result of the program.

3 Free Ways to Get Ahead This Tax Season

Whether you have disposable income or or are living paycheck-to-paycheck, there are many legitimate resources available to help you lower debt and increase savings. Below we have detailed three FREE ways to improve your financial situation in 2015.

1. Participate in a local Show Me the Money Day event

MoneyDay2015LoctionsHeld in 15 communities across Michigan in January and February, these are free community events that connect Michigan residents with free financial education and community resources to help people keep more of their hard earned money in their pockets. Event activities can include free tax preparation, Affordable Health Care enrollment, homeownership workshops, budgeting, financial coaching, food, prizes and more!

Visit ShowMetheMoneyDay.org for a full list of event locations.

2. Get Your Taxes Done for Free

VITA or TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) sites provide free tax preparation by IRS-trained and certified volunteers. The free internet-based tool myfreetaxes.com allows tax payers to prepare their own taxes and includes the ability to access assistance over the phone. To locate a tax assistance site in Michigan, or connect with volunteer assisted self-preparation tools, visit MichiganFreeTaxHelp.org or dial 2-1-1. When scheduling an appointment, please be sure to take note of all required documentation that you will need to bring with you.

FinancialEmpowermentLoctions3. Make an Appointment at a Financial Empowerment Center

Michigan has four Financial Empowerment Centers that offer one-on-one professional financial counseling free of charge. Services include budgeting, debt reduction, understanding credit and more. Visit the Michigan Communities for Financial Empowerment website to discover more about each location.

We can all use a little help, advice or some tips to get ahead. With so many obstacles or unforeseen expenses, it can feel overwhelming, but it is possible to get out of debt, feel more financially secure and maybe even go on a vacation! These simple tools can help you plan for that future. Make 2015 your year to get ahead.