CEDAM Blog

http://cedam.info/news/blog/page/43/

Membership and Board Elections

Membership

Now is the time to join CEDAM if you have not already. Existing members: don’t forget to renew your membership! Membership renewal reminders will come out next week.

Members get a whole host of benefits that include:

  • discounts at trainings and CEDAM events
  • special members-only funding announcements
  • access to the members-only portion of the website
  • eligibility to elect and serve on CEDAM’s Board of Directors and committees

Applying is easy and can be done either online or by mail. To apply, please go here.

Board Elections

Seats on CEDAM’s Board of Directors are open for elections this spring. Don’t forget that in order to run or vote, you must be a CEDAM member.

The Board meets bi-monthly, sets policy parameters for CEDAM, assists in fund development, and represents the priorities of the state’s CED industry at the state level. Board members participate in one or more of CEDAM’s committees.

See a list of the current board members and find out more about running for a board seat.

To run for a seat, email Tiffany with a photo of yourself, a brief autobiography, and a statement explaining why you would make a great CEDAM board member.

Happy New Year from CEDAM

It’s 2010 and we’ve got an exciting year ahead of us. Given this challenging economic environment, we resolve to work harder than ever in 2010 to serve our members and pursue innovative community economic development solutions for Michigan.

Working with CEDAM this year, you’ll be able to:

  • Meet CEDAM and CDAD members and learn about Best Practices throughout Michigan in our 2010 Membership Directory and Resource Guide
  • Shape our 2010 policy agenda and advocate in Lansing and at home
  • Ensure that Michigan residents are counted in the 2010 census
  • Support Michigan’s Housing and Community Development Fund by Checking the Box on your income tax return
  • Hone your skills and knowledge through trainings hosted by CEDAM and our partners – including a new community economic development curriculum
  • Network and learn at the Michigan Conference on Affordable Housing and CEDAM’s 2010 Annual Membership Celebration
  • Stay up-to-date with our improved paper newsletters, e-updates, social media networks, and upcoming videos
  • And more…

We will share more about each of these topics on the blog in the coming weeks, so visit often or subscribe.

CEDAM Blog Highlights of 2009

On behalf of CEDAM staff, thank you for your interest in our blog. We’ll be taking a break from posting until January.  In the hot chocolatemeantime, here are our must-read blog posts of 2009.  Enjoy them with some hot chocolate and a warm blanket.  See you next year!

Resources (Foreclosure, Asset Building, Policy, and Community Development)

CEDAM Members, Projects, and Events

How to Ruin Your Reputation on the Internet series

Winter Update

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Delicious carrots at the ANC farmer's market.

Winter Farmer’s Market

On a blustery, cold, snowy winter day in December, the CEDAM staff ventured to the east side of Lansing to the Allen Neighborhood Center’s Winter Farmer’s Market.  Inside the Hunter Park green house, it was toasty warm and bursting with beautiful greenery.  The Winter Farmer’s Market featured lettuce, spinach, potatoes, carrots, homemade noodles, bread, tamales, pot pies and much more.  The food is fantastic, the vendors are friendly, and the climate inside is just right!

Rescuing Foreclosure Pets

Pets are a part of the family, but when families face foreclosure sometimes pets need a new home.  No Paws Left Behind is a great resource for saving these “foreclosure pets.”  First, No Paws Left Behind helps families keep their pets by assisting with pet fees due to moving.  Second, it helps families find humane, safe places for pets to go when they need a new home.  Lastly, it rescues stray pets left behind because of foreclosure.  Be sure to look at the Paws website if you know of any foreclosure pets so that all of us can have a happy holiday season!

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Shelter of Flint Executive Director Gary Haggart with gifts for families.

Holiday Cheer for All

The Adopt a Family program, through CEDAM-member Shelter of Flint, was able to provide almost 50 homeless families with a great Christmas this year.  This program allows organizations and community members to ‘adopt’ a family for Christmas and buy each family member gifts. CEDAM participated in this program and adopted a family of 5.  “We  tried to pick out Christmas gifts for everyone that they would really like.  It was fun,” said CEDAM Office Manager Jessica AcMoody.  If you are interested in adopting a family, more information is on Shelter of Flint’s home page.  Thank you, Shelter of Flint, for making the holidays a little brighter for families in need.

Member News Roundup

[This post is part of the biweekly CEDAM Member News Roundup series.  If you have news to share, send it our way or leave a message in the comments section at the bottom of this post.]

New single-family homes built by Southwest Housing Solutions.

Southwest Housing Solutions recently completed 44 homes in Detroit, all of which are now occupied.  SWHS made sure that the homes were accessible to handicap residents as well.  “This is the best place I’ve ever lived,” said Charlotte Ketelhut, a mother living in one of the SWHS homes with her two daughters.  Read the full article from Southwest Solutions.

Michigan Now, a public radio news series, has a new website.  The new website has archives of Michigan Now stories listed by topic, links to follow on Twitter or through RSS, a list of the radio stations that broadcast Michigan Now stories, and more.  Go check it out!

Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency received a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to expand its Early Head Start program.  Besides offering services to additional clients, the grant will also cover fifteen new staff members.  Read the news article.

Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) plans to help homeless or uninsured/underinsured women and children in Pontiac get access to medical treatment.  Twice a week DRMM will pick up clients and take them to the DRMM Medical Clinic in Highland Park.  This new service is available thanks to the large number of volunteers involved with DRMM.  Read the news article.

The Human Development Commission is seeing an increasing number of people lining up each month to receive food from the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.  The program is designed to help low-income individuals avoid malnutrition. Read the news article.

Great Video on Downtown Rental Rehab

Interested in downtowns, rental housing, or housing rehabilitation? Then take ten minutes to watch this new video from MSHDA (Michigan State Housing Development Authority).  Second Story Stories: MSHDA’s Rental Rehabilitation Program shows the successes of the program, which gives property owners forgivable loans to renovate upper-floor apartments in traditional downtowns, in Mason, Michigan. You will meet local officials, residents, property owners, and investors and see some of the beautiful historic apartments that have been rehabilitated through this program. Watch it below or on YouTube.

To learn more about this program and others that MSHDA offers, visit MSHDA’s website or call (517) 373-1974.

HousingPolicy.org – a resource for everyone

[This policy-related post is from Katie Johnson, Policy Associate at CEDAM.]

This Tuesday, I participated in an interesting and innovative event hosted by the Center for Housing Policy on their website, HousingPolicy.org. The first part was a phone interview with housing policy expert Frank Alexander from Emory Law School. Alexander talked about using land banking strategies for foreclosure mitigation. Then, instead of the usual question-and-answer session on the phone, the event moved to the Internet. We listeners – and others – posted questions as comments in an online forum, and Alexander wrote replies in the same place.

Although nontraditional, this method had some real advantages:

  • It brings in more people by allowing them to post questions before or after the live event, not just in a ten-minute window.
  • It gives the expert more time to formulate answers that address all parts of each question.
  • It creates a public, written record of the conversation.
  • It allows the conversation to continue because the forum remains open.

Of course there are some drawbacks to this format too, but overall I think it was successful. If you’re interested in participating in future events, you can see what’s coming up on their home page. You can also listen to recordings of previous interviews on foreclosure mitigation.

As I was keeping an eye on the land banking forum, I started exploring the rest of the site. What a great resource!

  • The Toolbox section, ideal for those new to or outside of the industry, has content on many different aspects of state and local housing policy, from energy efficiency to tax increment financing. Each topic has a basic overview, more detailed explanations, and links to outside resources.
  • The Building a Strategy section has instructions and tips for creating a comprehensive community housing strategy – good for local officials.
  • The Forum lets practitioners (and others) create or participate in written conversations on any and all housing policy topics.
  • Last but not least, the Gallery has photos and information on dozens of successful affordable housing projects around the country.  Admire the handful of Michigan projects featured, and submit your own to show the rest of the country the kind of work we do here.

When you have a few minutes today, visit HousingPolicy.org and look around. I’m confident you’ll find something interesting and useful.

HousingPolicy.org

How to Ruin Your Reputation on the Internet: Don’t Check Facts

[This post is part of the How To Ruin Your Reputation on the Internet series, written by CEDAM Communications Intern Olivia Courant.]

This series highlights mistakes nonprofits make online that hurt their reputation or make their online communications strategies ineffective. Today’s topic: fact checking.

—A Very Bad Statistic—

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Imagine opening the newspaper tomorrow morning and reading this statistic: “Every year since 1980, the number of unemployed people in the state of Michigan has doubled.”

Wow. This statistic would be a great way to show that unemployment is a big problem in Michigan. So without further thought, you quote the newspaper article in a newsletter about unemployment. Soon, other Michigan nonprofits pick up on this statistic and they too use it to point to the problem of unemployment. Eventually it is common knowledge that unemployment is doubling each year in Michigan.

What is wrong with this? Let’s assume that there is one unemployed person in Michigan in 1980. In 1981, there are two. By 1990 there are 1,024 unemployed people. Not so bad, right? When we reach 2000, a little more than one million people in Michigan are unemployed, or 1 of every 10 people living in Michigan that year.

According to our faulty statistic, we can expect one billion people to be unemployed in Michigan next year, 2010. In other words, the entire U.S. population three times over would roughly equal the number of unemployed in Michigan.

This is an example of a bad statistic. As nonprofits, part of our job is to keep our numbers straight so that others have an accurate picture of how big the problem is, who is being affected, what is needed, etc, so that the problem can be addressed correctly. Fact checking does not only apply to numbers; it also applies to information. While some of us have no problem evaluating the credibility of information, we may balk at the idea of checking numbers. Fortunately, there are two simple, basic principles to fact check most anything.

1. Common Sense
Does the number or fact make sense based on what you already know? If not, is the source credible? (see #2)

2. Source Credibility
Where did the number or fact come from? Something you overheard? A flaky looking website or a chain letter? A partisan think tank? An established nonprofit? The U.S. Census Bureau? Obviously there are some sources we can trust more than others.

Finally, always remember to mention the specifics of any statistic or fact you use, such as the time, place, and people it applies to. No one wants to be caught accidentally applying data from the 70’s to the current situation.

Interested in learning more about how to fact check?

  • The University of British Colombia has guidelines on evaluating internet resources (here) and print resources (here).
  • See how PolitiFact.com does their fact checking in this YouTube video.
  • If you enjoy reading and want to learn more about how statistics can be misleading, I highly recommend Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics by Joel Best. It is an easy, entertaining, and enlightening read and you do not need to have advanced knowledge of math to understand it. Google Books will give you a limited preview of the book here, and also of the “sequel.”

For Personal Finance, Knowing is Half the Battle

[This post is from Ross H. Yednock, Director of the Asset Building Policy Project.]

Last month I went to southern Illinois to visit my grandmother on the family farm.  It is a place I have been going to my entire life and I truly enjoy how it feels worlds removed from the life I live in the city of Lansing.  This particular trip, I spent a lot of time driving my grandmother to and from the homestead into some of the neighboring small towns.  While much has stayed the same in Olney and Fairfield over the years, I noticed on this visit that some of the old small shops I used to remember have been replaced by check cashers and payday lenders.

Sometimes convenience has a high price tag.

Sometimes convenience has a high price tag.

I only saw a few in each little town, a small number in comparison to Lansing or Detroit, but on a per capita basis I’m pretty sure that the 8,600 people of Olney and 5,400 of Fairfield have the same access to these high cost outlets as do us big city dwellers.  This shouldn’t really come as a surprise, considering payday lenders grew faster than Starbucks over the last 15 years, but it is a troubling sign that consumption-based services are more prolific than savings.

As I mentioned, I’ve been going to the farm since I was a kid and as a result, I have many fond childhood memories.  I learned a lot about finances and savings from my grandfather who, during retirement, accepted an uncompensated position as president of the Mt. Erie State Bank.  On this particular visit, as I drove by the signs soliciting “CASH NOW – NO CREDIT CHECKS,” another childhood memory came to me: “Knowing is half the battle,” the catch phrase at the end of every G.I. Joe episode.

When it comes to personal finance and making sound decisions that enable you to build assets, knowing is half the battle.

Knowing the fees, charges and interest of a credit card, savings account, or checking account allows you to make the right decisions and save money toward retirement, college, or future emergencies.

Knowing that debit cards are directly linked to a checking or savings account, different from “pre-paid” debit cards which can cost $10, $20 or even $30 a month in fees, allows you to be a more savvy consumer and saver.

Knowing alternatives to using a check casher or payday lender allows you to save upwards of $500 or $1000 a year.

And knowing that you can get your credit report and Chexsystem report for free, from sites that do not advertise using catchy commercials or come with monthly and unnecessary “credit monitoring” fees, allows you take an active approach to your whole financial picture.

In coming blog posts, I will provide you with more tips and links to good information on personal finance and savings.  In the meantime, remember, when it comes to becoming financially self-sufficient and secure, knowing is half the battle.

-rhy

Every year, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from all three major credit reporting agencies.  Get this free report.

Every year, you are entitled to a free copy of your report from ChexSystems, the company that financial institutions use to monitor consumers’ banking histories.  Get this free report.

If you have questions or would like further information, please contact Asset Building Policy Project Director Ross H. Yednock.

Member News Roundup

[This post is part of the biweekly CEDAM Member News Roundup series.  If you have news to share, send it our way or leave a message in the comments section at the bottom of this post.]

This week there has been a big buzz in the news media about University Cultural Center Association’s annual Noel Night.  The event is free and features activities and live performances from over 40 institutions.  It starts at 5:00 this Saturday in Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center Area. Details here.

The Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF) provides affordable housing for families in need, but this year it is also running an adopt a family program for the holiday season.  The program is featured in an NBC interview with Deborah Armstrong from ICCF.  Watch the interview.

Ottawa County Community Action Agency is running a weatherization program that offers assistance to low-income families in order to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.  Examples of assistance include home improvements like installing insulation, sealing ducts, and making sure furnaces work properly.  See the end of this article.

Dickson-Iron Community Services Agency (DISCA) decided to continue onsite meal service at the Crystal Falls Senior Center until the end of February.  Home delivered meals will continue even if onsite meals end, DISCA said. Article.