Last week, I had the opportunity to testify before the House Financial Service Committee’s Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing, and Community Opportunity to discuss the status of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and the continued need for all NSP funding. NSP is not a foreclosure prevention program, rather a tool to help communities across our nation address and mitigate the negative effects that vacant, abandoned and blighted properties have on neighborhoods and property values. NSP serves as that buffer against further decline by shoring up the equity of homeowners that live on the block where an NSP investment is made.
NSP has helped communities and people like Millie Davis in Cleveland, Ohio. Millie had been eyeing a home in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. This home had been long-vacant and fire damaged, an eyesore on the block for more than three years – but was rehabilitated to green standards by the Cleveland Housing Network using NSP funds as part of cross-sector partnership called Opportunity Homes. Not only did Opportunity Homes rehab the home but it provided Millie with the financial counseling and assistance she needed to purchase it last November. Now that Millie is a homeowner, she has enough room to share the home with her mother.
Lee County in Florida is another prime example of NSP hard at work. Lee County is one of the regions hardest hit by foreclosures, with over 2,600 filings per month. Not only did Lee County use NSP dollars to help its communities come back to life but they partnered with the Sheriff’s Department to create a Weed and Seed Program to reduce crime in these areas. A hard-working nurse by the name of Priscilla Hardaway was paying more than $1,000 in monthly rent when she heard about the county’s NSP. Thanks to NSP she was able to purchase a home and now affords a mortgage of $528 per month. A huge difference from her $1,000 a month rent. As Priscilla so eloquently put in, “These houses are ready to move right in. You don’t have to worry about something that won’t function because the NSP workers have already checked everything out. You can just move and have no surprises. I also like the way the counselors walk you through homebuyer education. That was the best.”
These NSP success stories are just two from across the country. In the CPD office at HUD we are effectively implementing NSP to assist state and local governments in addressing the negative effects of abandoned and foreclosed properties. As NSP grantees gain traction and build capacity and expend funds, they continue to help stabilize the still fragile housing market.