CEDAM Blog

http://cedam.info/news/blog/page/44/

MFPP Online Foreclosure Service

The Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Project’s foreclosure online inquiry/intake service is now up and running! View it here.

MFPP foreclosure

The MFPP web inquiry will provide intake, counseling, and advice services to households facing foreclosure that complete the on-line intake questionnaire.  A MFPP attorney will monitor the web intake daily and answer questions.  If the MFPP attorney believes that more extensive services are required for a client, the MFPP attorney will either refer the client to a housing counselor or to one of the legal services partner programs serving the geographic area where the property is located.  Please let homeowners in your networks know about this new online service.

Capital Day Fall 2009 Recap

On Tuesday, November 10, 2009, CEDAM held its second Capital Day in partnership with the Asset Building Policy Project and the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force. The event was a great success, with 57 individuals from 38 organizations converging in Lansing to meet with 30 representatives and 21 senators.

Tiffany Lemieux-McKissic, CEDAM’s Manager of Membership and Communications, has created a fantastic 4-minute video with footage and information from Capital Day. If you attended, this is a great way to remember the event and tell others about it. If you missed out this time, you can see what the event was like. We encourage you to join us in 2010!

In addition to Tiffany, for her great work on the video, we would like to thank the following individuals and organizations:

If you attended and have not yet filled out an evaluation, please do so here to help us improve future events. To see policy materials from Capital Day, visit our Advocacy Resources page.

Last but not least, here are a few of the comments we’ve received from people who attended.

  • “Great job on the event – all of your work made it so much easier to meet and establish relationships with our legislators!”
  • “Both my contacts did what I asked and it also followed to a TV show with [my representative] to talk about foreclosure scams. Good for the public, for [my rep] and for [my organization].”
  • “Capital Day was a great event.  It is good to be aware of specific bills that are in the legislature and of those which we can have an opportunity to lobby on.  I also enjoyed networking with other agencies from around Michigan who are involved in similar work.  Overall, the event was well organized, informative, and a great opportunity to be a part of a democracy. “
  • “This was a positive experience for me…. I will follow the issues much more closely as a result of my experience.”
  • “I would be very comfortable participating in the future.”
  • “I am very happy to have signed up and come to Capital Day.”

Alleviating Foreclosure the AmeriCorps Way

[This is a guest post by Kenita Nichols, a member of the Michigan Foreclosure Corps.]

Through the years, AmeriCorps has become synonymous with making a difference in the lives of those around you.  With such an encompassing vision for benevolence to all human beings, one could only expect an outpouring of support to come in the form of the Michigan Foreclosure Corps.

Michigan as a state was once highly identifiable by its link to the booming automotive industry.  In the recent economic downturn, Michigan has become the first state in 25 years to suffer an unemployment rate exceeding 15%.  Battered by the collapse of the auto industry, the stock market, and the housing crisis, many Michigan residents continue to be displaced.  Eviction or foreclosure pushes people into unfamiliar territory.

The Michigan Foreclosure Corps began serving on September 28, 2009 to address the problems foreclosed homeowners face.  In partnership with the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force, Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM), and the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness, 20 AmeriCorps members have been placed at nonprofit foreclosure counseling agencies across Michigan.  Each member will provide foreclosure prevention support services, community outreach, educational workshops, and innovative approaches to facilitate a decrease in the amount of foreclosed homes.

AmeriCorps Orientation

AmeriCorps Orientation, October 2009

The Michigan Foreclosure Corps serves both the urban and rural parts of Michigan; each non-profit foreclosure agency specializes in the needs respective to the areas they service.  AmeriCorps members possess the motivation and commitment to create social change through intensive community service.

Michigan Foreclosure Corps AmeriCorps members are also working with certified housing counselors.  Counselors work with homeowners and lenders to stop foreclosure and develop plans to put them back on the path of financial stability.  Understanding the value of home ownership, equity, and budgeting are vital tools the Corps will utilize to place families back on track in the state of Michigan.

Expand this post for a list of our service sites.

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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.]

Bell Building

Bell Building in Detroit

Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency is helping to keep people warm this winter by dispensing heating assistance funds to qualified applicants.  One such applicant said this will be the first year he will be able to turn his furnace on.  In the past he sat in his living room with a snowsuit on. Read the article.

Neighborhood Service Organization plans to renovate the historic  Bell Building in Detroit to serve both as a headquarters and as a homeless shelter.  The project won a state brownfield tax credit worth $7.1 million. See the renovation plan.

Blue Water Habitat for Humanity in Port Huron is coordinating with students at St. Clair Community College to build an affordable home that runs on environmentally-friendly alternative energy.  Read the article.

United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s 2-1-1 hotline is “taking off” according to Crain’s Detroit Business.  The hotline helps connect callers to resources such as mortgage & foreclosure counseling, medical assistance, and senior care services.  According the organization’s most recent report, 82% of callers who requested food received it, and those who called for utility bill assistance saved $389 on average.  Learn about the hotline and see reports.

How to Ruin Your Reputation on the Internet: Improper Tone

[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.  In the last post, we talked about how out-of-date information on your nonprofit’s website can drive away your audience.  Today we turn to another common problem: improper tone.

—Nonprofits, Nonsense, Negativity, and Cats—

Every day, nonprofit employee Sarah goes through many emails, Facebook posts, and Twitter posts from her coworkers and other nonprofits.  Today, she has seen:

  • One Facebook update from Nonprofit A that reads, Every1 come to Rob’s 30th birthday partyyyyy!!!!
  • One very negative blog post where Nonprofit B rants about Nonprofit C’s latest publication.
  • Two emails from coworker Dan that are full of cat pictures and are carbon copied to everyone on Dan’s contact list.

These are all examples of improper tone and/or mixing personal life with business.  In the first scenario the nonprofit publicly announces a personal event that should be kept between staff members.  It is unlikely that this nonprofit’s volunteers and members are interested in Rob’s birthday party.  The second scenario is an example of unconstructive negativity.  Extreme criticism will cause an organization to be viewed the same way it treats others: negatively.  Finally, sending or forwarding an email, especially a “chain letter,” to everyone on your contact list is a good way to get people to start ignoring your emails.

The best way to avoid using improper tone is to match your tone to your audience.  Ask yourself, who is reading this? There will be a difference when you are writing to a group of professionals about foreclosure resources, versus announcing a fun community event.

In some cases it is perfectly acceptable to write about personal stories – for instance, positive testimonies from the people your nonprofit works with can give your organization legitimacy and show how it is directly involved in the community. CEDAM member Jackson Affordable Housing Coalition has a “success stories” section on their website that demonstrates a perfect use of personal stories. No matter what you are writing, be sure to proofread for spelling and grammar mistakes.

Ultimately, the goal is to balance formality and personality so that you do not look too bland but also avoid putting off your audience.  Having fun is great, but not everyone on your contact list wants to see pictures of your cats.

Cat

A CEDAM cat chows down on some pet grass.

Estimates and Projections Regarding Michigan’s Financial Crisis

[From Lisa Nuszkowski.]

The Center for Responsible Lending has issued estimates and projections around the financial crisis in Michigan and the need for a Consumer Financial Protection Agency.  This document provides a snapshot of how the failure to protect consumers has impacted the state of Michigan, in terms of the number of mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures; lost wealth; squelched state consumer protection laws; overdraft loan costs; and payday lending.

2nd Capital Day a Success

On Tuesday, November 10, 2009, CEDAM hosted its second Capital Day in Lansing.  Co-hosted by the Asset Building Coalition and the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force, and sponsored by United Way for Southeastern Michigan and PHI, the event drew 53 people from around the state for meetings with state representatives and senators.

Check back here on Thursday for statistics, stories, and pictures.

If you attended the event and haven’t done so already, please complete an evaluation. You can do that online, right here.

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!]

WARM Training Center is announced as the 2009 Champions in Action winner in recognition of environmental leadership in southeastern Michigan.  Read more about the award.

Chief executive of LISC Detroit, Deborah L. Younger, is interviewed in a two-part series about Detroit land use by Darrell Dawsey for Time Magazine’s “The Detroit Blog.”   Start with Part I. Finish with Part II.

Neighborhood Renewal Services of Saginaw, Inc. plans to improve downtown Saginaw and Old Saginaw City in the coming months.  See some of the ideas in this MLive.com article.

Godfrey Hammel, Danneels & Company, P.C. of St. Clair Shores receives Employer Appreciation Award from the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants.  Look at the award list on MACPA.

HCAP Funding Announcement

[An announcement on HCAP funding from Lisa Nuszkowski]

HUD recently announced 2009-10 awards for its Housing Counseling Assistance Program (HCAP).  While Michigan saw an increase in the number of community-based counseling agencies receiving funding (from 8 agencies in 2008 to 14 agencies in 2009), the funding for counseling is still far under what is needed to serve Michigan’s homeowners (the increase in funding to these agencies went from $433,147 in 2008 to $582,387 in 2009).  What’s more, some communities such as Detroit received zero dollars in housing counseling funds from HUD.

In response to the concern that Michigan’s counseling agencies are not receiving their fair share of HCAP funding, the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force started meeting with members of Michigan’s Congressional delegation to inform them about the dire need for additional funding and how little HCAP funds community-based counseling agencies in Michigan receive, despite the extraordinary need.  The entire Michigan delegation signed a letter to HUD Secretary Donovan asking questions about how funds are awarded and how Michigan can access more federal resources.  We expect to have a response from HUD to share with the Task Force shortly.

We plan to continue meeting with members of the Michigan delegation to make the case that our agencies need adequate funding to meet the need for foreclosure counseling in Michigan.  Thus far, we have met with Senator Levin, Congressmen Dingell, Schauer, Camp, and Ehlers.  Please let Steve or I know if you have a relationship with your Congressperson or would be willing to help us set up a meeting with them.  We will also be participating in a strategic planning session with HUD later this month, where we will continue to deliver the message that Michigan needs more counseling resources.

A few important reminders and announcements:

  1. If you haven’t already, sign up today for Friday’s webinar on What You Need To Know About Michigan’s 90-Day Law. You can do so here.
  2. Detroit HOPE Now will be hosting a foreclosure prevention workshop on Saturday, December 5, 2009 from 9am-2pm at Cobo Hall in Detroit.  If your agency is interested in participating, please contact Sheila Squier at ssquier@twcny.rr.com with the following: Agency Name, Volunteer Name(s), Contact Email and Phone Number, and Languages Spoken.
  3. Accidentally delete an email with important Task Force information?  My emails to the Task Force will be posted on CEDAM’s blog, so please visit to catch up on any information you may have missed.

Pre-Capital-Day Webinars 11/2 and 11/3

[This post was updated Nov. 6, 2009.]

In preparation for Capital Day, CEDAM hosted two policy webinars. Materials from the webinars are linked below; please note that if you are attending Capital Day you must review the materials from the “Review of Policy Topics for Capital Day” webinar (see below).

The first webinar was “How a Bill Becomes a Law.” CEDAM policy staff reviewed the legislative process with an emphasis on Michigan.   Materials from the webinar are available here under “The Legislative Process and the State Legislature.” This information is recommended for anyone who is attending Capital Day and would like to improve their understanding of the legislative process.

The second webinar, “Review of Policy Topics for Capital Day,” covered the following topics:

  • Foreclosure Rescue Scams (by Lisa Nuszkowski, Michigan Foreclosure Task Force)
  • Predatory Lending (also by Lisa Nuszkowski)
  • HB 5296, Employer Notification of Earned Income Tax Credit eligibility (by Ross Yednock, Asset Building Policy Project)
  • Increasing Volunteer Base for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites (also by Ross Yednock)
  • The 2010 Census and Why It Matters for Michigan (by Katie Johnson in collaboration with the Michigan Nonprofit Association)

This webinar is required for Capital Day attendees. If you attending Capital Day and did not view this webinar, please review the materials here under “Capital Day November 2009 Resources.” We will not be discussing the issues at length on November 10, so we can devote more time to advocacy training.