FAMILY RESOURCES OF NEW ORLEANS by Kelita Pete
One interesting way to help our community is to promote home ownership. It helps individuals and it helps neighborhoods. People who own their own homes feel a sense of pride and accomplishment, as well as hope for the future. They have a goal to work toward – that of keeping their home, maintaining it and building equity in it. It also helps neighborhoods, because in neighborhoods where most properties are inhabited by owners instead of renters, there is more pride in ownership, which means houses are more likely to be well-kept and in good repair. That helps to make sure that property values in existing neighborhoods don’t decline. Home ownership helps to take families out of blighted homes and crime-filled neighborhoods and builds a stronger bond to the area in which they live. It also, spurs economic development for the businesses located in the community as well as helps to build wealth in families that can be passed down to the next generation.
But as most of us know, the dream of home ownership is difficult for many people to achieve. They have difficulty saving up for the 20% down payment, they are in need of credit rehabilitation or they don’t know how to achieve and maintain a good credit score. They may not know how to create and live on a budget, or they may just have given up on the dream because of the economic downturn. Maybe, they can’t imagine themselves walking into a bank and having people take them seriously.
Family Resources of New Orleans is one nonprofit that, among other things, helps lower wealth families achieve the dream of home ownership. Not by handouts, but by teaching them and guiding them through the difficult process of building credit, purchasing a home or even constructing a new home.
Family Resources of New Orleans was founded in 1997. They service the Greater New Orleans area, with offices in New Orleans, Boutte, Belle Chase and an additional location coming November 1 in St. Bernard Parish. They were founded in order to serve as a safety net for families, providing the skills needed in order to gain employment. Their mission has expanded to helping low wealth families build wealth through homeownership. They do this by providing credit rehabilitation and financial literacy skills training, homebuyer education, individual development account (IDA) matched savings programs, post purchase counseling, default or foreclosure prevention counseling, as well as information and referrals to other social services organizations.
They also, assist with new home construction in partnership with the USDA Self-Help Housing Program. This program is creating homeownership opportunities among low wealth families living in Rural Communities. Families work in groups to help build each others’ homes with financing through the USDA Rural Development 502 Direct Loan Program — offering as low as 1% interest construction to permanent loans to families meeting the credit and median income guidelines. Family Resources does offer credit counseling to help families qualify for the USDA Self-Help Housing Program. Since 2004, Family Resources of New Orleans has built 30 single family homes in St. Charles and Jefferson Parish in partnership with the USDA Self-Help Housing Program. In June 2011, Family Resources of New Orleans garnered the top prize in the Affordable Housing category at the National Development Council (NDC) Academy 2011 Project Showcase in Washington, DC where the single family homes built in partnership with the USDA were displayed and voted on by other housing development professionals from across the country.
Some of the past successes of Family Resources are:
- In 1997, in partnership with the Tulane University School of Social Work, they provided employment and entrepreneurship skills training to youth and adults living in public housing;
- In 1998 they established a pizza restaurant with youth in Lafitte Public Housing;
- In 2002 they secured HUD certification for housing counseling;
- In 2003 they built 15 new homes in partnership with Lifetime Homes in East New Orleans;
- In 2008 they counseled and trained over 3000 families in home ownership;
- In 2009 they secured $3 million in housing development for the region;
- In 2009 they constructed 10 new self homes in St. Charles Parish and raised up 4 new home owners in St. John the Baptist Parish.
- In 2010 they qualified 20 Plaquemines families for the Non-Profit Pilot Rebuild Program in partnership with the United Way of Greater New Orleans
- In 2011 they won the affordable housing category for the NDC Academy 2011 Project Showcase
If you would like to volunteer with Family Resources of New Orleans in any of their offices, you can contact them at:
2223 Paul Maillard Rd., Boutte, LA 70039, (985), 785-0570
817 N. Claiborne Ave., New Orleans, LA 70116, Phone (504) 822-8519
1112 Engineers Rd. #4, Belle Chasse, LA 70037, Phone (504) 822-8519
Or visit their website at www.familyresourcesofno.org for more information.