CEDAM Blog

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Housing and Community Development Funding in the President’s FY 2011 Budget

[This is the second post in a new blog series on the FY2011 State and Federal budgets.]

On February 1, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary  Donovan released his Fiscal Year 2011 budget proposal, following President Obama’s administration-wide budget proposal.

Many programs in the HUD budget are slated to receive a funding increase in preparation for the President’s proposed three-year freeze on discretionary spending. Along with funding increases, the budget focuses on innovation and improvement; this presents both opportunities and challenges to CED practitioners in Michigan.

Points of interest and further resources below.

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Foreclosure Task Force: MML and Proposed Rule Change for Mortgage Relief Companies

Foreclosure Task force members,

1) Give a big welcome to Michigan Municipal League as the newest member on the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force! See this article on the MML website about their membership and plans to fight foreclosure.

2) A press release recently issued by the FTC regards a proposed rule change that would help stop foreclosure rescue scam companies from taking advantage of homeowners facing foreclosure. Among other changes, this rule would ban companies from charging a fee up-front for their services, as well as bar them from providing consumers with misleading or false information.

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox has joined 45 other Attorneys General around the country in supporting these rule changes. Read the commentary by the National Association of Attorneys General here.

Public comment is being accepted on this proposed rule change until March 29, 2010. You may submit comments electronically here or via hard copy to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-135 (Annex W), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 20580.

CEDAM Membership Directory

 When you renew your CEDAM  or CDAD membership for 2010, you will receive a copy of our 2010 Membership Directory and Resource Guide (in collaboration with CDAD).  Don’t forget that you can now renew your membership online (fill out a member application and pay dues from our website just click here).

An exciting feature of the 2010 Membership Directory is the Best Practice section. This section highlights the great work our members are engaged in- across the community development spectrum – everything from foreclosure to urban agriculture. The finishing touches are being made to the Membership Directory and Resource Guide; look for it soon in a mailbox near you!

Asset Building in President Obama’s Budget Request

[This is the first post in a new blog series on the FY2011 State and Federal budgets.]

President Obama’s budget request for FY2011, released on February 1st, included specific proposals geared toward asset-building, primarily aiming to expand economic opportunity to low and moderate-income Americans.  The budget request expands the Saver’s Credit, which provides a 50% match on the first $1,000 saved in a retirement account by families earning less than $65,000 through direct deposit into the account.  President Obama also proposed requiring employers who do not offer a retirement plan to enroll their employees in a direct deposit IRA, extending the Make Work Pay tax credit for another year, and expanding financial aid for students through strengthened income-based repayment plans for student loans and an American Graduation Initiative to support community colleges and graduate five million students by 2020.

Additionally, the budget proposes to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, reform asset limits in Federal means-tested programs, and take steps to reverse the system of upside-down wealth subsidies by revising mortgage interest deduction, charitable donations, and other itemized deductions.

For more information, reference President Obama’s budget request for FY2011.

See also, CFED’s Asset Building Policy Priorities for the 111th Congress.

Living in Michigan: New Ways to Connect Online

Living in Michigan logoThe Living in Michigan Coalition is a group of organizations, including CEDAM, working together to advance Michigan’s Housing and Community Development Fund (MHCDF). CEDAM is proud to announce the launch of a new Living in Michigan website, Facebook page, and Twitter account, where you can learn all about MHCDF, its successes, and how you can help.

The mission of the fund is to create vibrant communities where people want to live, work, and retire. It will accomplish this by providing housing opportunities for all Michigan residents, and helping transform our economy by improving the quality of life in Michigan’s cities, towns, and villages – especially those with high concentrations of poverty. In 2008, MHCDF helped fund 18 great housing projects, leverage public and private funds at an 11:1 ratio, and create new jobs in communities around the state (find out more).

This year, we need your help! Those filing Michigan taxes can contribute $5 or more to MHCDF to invest in jobs and local revitalization in Michigan communities. Donating to the fund means:

  • creating much-needed jobs and economic stimulation for Michigan’s cities, towns and villages
  • protecting our communities
  • investing in Michigan’s economic future
  • empowering local communities to become more self-reliant, vibrant and healthy through direct support

This brand new 30-second public service announcement encourages all Michigan taxpayers to support MHCDF by checking the box to invest in jobs and revitalize local communities throughout Michigan.

If we don’t invest in Michigan, who will? The future of Michigan’s communities depends on us!

Census 2010: 10 Minutes Now for 10 Years of Benefits

This article originally appeared in the Nov./Dec. 2009 issue of MNA Links, a publication of the Michigan Nonprofit Association. It is written by Sam Singh, census consultant for MNA, and republished with permission.

In just a few short months, hundreds of thousands of Census questionnaires will be mailed to residents across the state to gather critical information about our communities and the state as a whole; information that will be used to determine how to distribute millions of dollars in federal funding.

The 2010 Census is an extraordinary opportunity for Michigan – and the nonprofit community – to rebuild our state.

So this time around, we’re planning ahead.

Ten years ago, Michigan was severely undercounted in the 2000 Census. It is estimated that more than 70,000 people were missed, costing the state of Michigan millions in federal funding. With a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall, the 2010 Census is critical to Michigan’s future.

Thankfully, the US Census Bureau revamped the Census, making it easier and far less time consuming to participate. What was once an intimidating, extensive questionnaire filled with dozens of questions is now a simple 10-question survey. This time, the Census is quick – take 10 minutes of time for 10 years of support to your community.

The Census isn’t just about counting our residents – it’s about making sure our residents count. Census data is used to determine political representation; where to build new roads, schools, and businesses; where services for the elderly and the homeless are necessary; and where jobs and job programs are needed.

The nonprofit community is uniquely positioned to dramatically strengthen and improve this year’s census participation because you often directly serve these hard-to-count populations. The Nonprofits Count! in Michigan campaign is committed to preparing nonprofits with the training, materials and resources they need to ensure that their constituents and communities are accurately represented and counted. No sector is stronger and better positioned to meet the challenge of achieving a complete count.

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Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day 2010

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provides great economic benefit to low-income workers and local economies across the state. For individuals and families, the EITC provides financial opportunity in this disastrous economic climate.  EITC refunds can make the difference for staving off foreclosure or providing the basics for a decent life, like paying utilities and buying food.  Every year, federal EITC refunds bring in over $1 billion to Michigan.  Much of this is spent directly in local economies; for every $1 in EITC refund received, $1.67 is spent back in the recipient’s local economy.EITC logo for Michigan

Volunteers and organizations across the state have helped connect qualified Michigan workers with the EITC through efforts in financial education and asset building, free tax preparation, and outreach about tax laws and benefits.  However, there are still more taxpayers to be reached. To further outreach efforts, the IRS is holding an EITC Awareness Day today, Friday, January 29, 2010.  The event represents an outstanding opportunity to reach out and involve the entire community, and the State, in celebrating and publicizing what has been called the working person’s best work incentive and antipoverty program.  Please visit the EITC Awareness Day Webpage to learn more.

For more information about the EITC please reference:

Displaced Workers Guidebook

Last week, Congressman Dingell released the Second Edition of his Displaced Workers Guidebook, which is freely available on his website at http://www.house.gov/dingell/pdf/displacedworkerguidebook.pdf. The success and demand for the original Guidebook, along with new assistance programs initiated by both the government and local organizations, led the Congressman to compile this updated version.

The Second Edition now includes over sixteen additional pages of resources and government aid programs identified specifically for the constituents of the 15th Congressional District and the people of Southeast Michigan. It also features a comprehensive table of contents and a full index – sorted by organization and by type of aid – to make browsing for the kind of help most relevant to each person that much easier.

Please feel free to post the Guidebook online or distribute it to the communities and populations you serve. The last edition of this book was viewed nearly half a million times, and it is Congressman Dingell’s goal that with your help this updated version will be able to reach as many families and individuals who may yet benefit from some new directions in seeking further aid as possible. Printed copies of the Guidebook are available for free at any of the Congressman’s district offices in Dearborn, Monroe, and Ypsilanti.

Member News Roundup ~ January

It is not every day that you can support a CEDAM member by eating chocolate, and it’s not too late to do so: Underground Railroad Inc.’s Chocolate Lovers Benefit is Sunday the 31st in Saginaw. Attendees will get to sample chocolates and other novelties from local shops, see a live performance by Walt Evans, and participate in a silent auction. See more information and RSVP online or pay at the door.

Alger-Marquette Community Action Board’s weatherization program, which is free to income-eligible households in the area, saves homeowners an average of 24% on energy costs. Joe Pirante, the housing director at AMCAB, says that in many cases the biggest factor in energy savings is the home’s heating system itself. Having a heating contractor clean and tune the system every few years will improve efficiency. More in this news article.

Ingham County Land Bank will be one of the eight land banks aided by NSP2 grant money awarded to Michigan for neighborhood revitalization. News article.

Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries received a tremendous donation of furniture from Art Van Furniture, who partnered with the daytime drama “Days of our Lives” and local NBC affiliate WDIV Channel 4. Read more.

Southwest Housing Solutions Corp received $4 million from the U.S. Department of Labor’s ‘Pathways out of Poverty’ training grant. The grant money will be used to train disadvantaged Detroit residents for green jobs in areas such as weatherization, deconstruction and material reuse, renewable energy, forestry, and urban agriculture. Go here for more on Pathways out of Poverty, or see Southwest Solutions’ article.

Michigan Receives $224 Million for NSP2

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded Michigan $223.9 million recently as part of the second phase of the government’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP2) to rebuild local economies, as authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program is intended to facilitate and stimulate neighborhood stabilization programs to fight the effects of home foreclosures.  Michigan received the single largest grant, 11% of the $2 billion pool. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) submitted a collaborative application on behalf of twelve local cities and eight land banks.

Left to right: Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, US Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, and Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan praised the unique application when he visited Detroit to award the grant. Under Michigan’s distinctive plan, local cities will work in conjunction with land banks to create affordable housing, generate jobs, and stimulate property redevelopment in an effort to combat the challenges to the state’s housing sector. Specifically, the money will be used to acquire thousands of foreclosed, abandoned and blighted properties in targeted areas. These properties will be rehabilitated, demolished or placed in land banks for future development. Since Michigan received most of the money it requested, state officials do not expect major revisions to the state spending plan.

CEDAM congratulates MSHDA and the members of the Michigan NSP2 consortium. We look forward to the new collaborative community development this grant will support.