Housing update CE the North Carolina Housing Coalition

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					                                              Housing Update
We thank our Investor                                     Executive Director’s Notes
Council members:
                             January 31, 2006
•   Wachovia
•   Progress Energy          National Legislative Action Needed
•   BB&T                     Members of Congress are scheduled to vote tomorrow on the budget reconciliation bill, The
•   SunTrust                 reconciliation bill would cut nearly $40 billion in mandatory programs, including Medicaid, SSI
                             and TANF. It would also eliminate housing preservation upfront grants, which are used to
•   NC Housing Finance
                             preserve HUD-assisted housing.
•   RBC Centura              The House already passed a version of this bill before the holidays, but because the Senate
•   Federal Home Loan        made changes to some of the language, the House has to vote again. The first vote was very
    Bank of Atlanta          close: 212-206. Because of all they’ve been hearing from constituents, we know that at least
•   Reznick Fedder &         one Member who voted ‘yes’ the first time will now vote ‘no.’ And several other Members are
    Silverman                now on the fence.
•   Bank of America
                             If you haven’t yet called your Member of Congress this week, please do so today.
•   Carolina First Bank
                             Tell him or her how vital these programs are to your community. Then pass this message
                             along to someone else who hasn’t called yet.
                             The Message:
Member Spotlight             I urge you to vote against the budget reconciliation bill. A $40 billion cut to low income
                             programs will hurt families, seniors, and people with disabilities, and the elimination of the
                             housing preservation upfront grant program will limit housing preservation across the
This Week’s Articles:        country.
• Report: Shelter space
                             For More Information:
  scant for victims
                                 Information on the housing preservation upfront grant program is at:
• Plan to stop
                                 A map showing the number of units per state that have been preserved using this
  homelessness would
                                 program is at:
  cost $8 million
                                 Some Members are saying that the $40 billion cuts are not actually cuts. Here’s how to
                                 answer them:
• Transient: Homeless
                                 Find how your Member of Congress voted on this bill in December at:
  students have special
  needs that schools help
                             Housing Summit In Greensboro Brings Large Turnout!
                             I just got back from the Housing Summit hosted by the Greensboro Housing Coalition –
• Foreclosure rate
                             Congratulations to Beth McKee-Huger and her staff for putting on such a great event and on
  'disaster' sparks action
                             such a great turnout. Over 200 folks turned out to attend morning breakout sessions on
                             Greensboro’s Comprehensive Housing Report, Guildford Co.’s Plan to End Homelessness, the
• Solutions discussed at
                             Partnership for Safe and Healthy Housing or Guilford Crisis Council’s Lessons from Katrina.
  housing forum
                             During lunch Board Members showed a video of a tour of substandard housing in the city and
                             laid out the Housing Coalition’s goals and objectives for 2006. I have asked for copies of
• Homeless get help
                             Beth’s presentations to share with other communities as great models for how to present
                             housing issues to a broad segment of community members.
• Volunteers count local
  homeless population
                             Response to Rising Foreclosure Rates
                             We mentioned last week that foreclosure rates have jumped in Mecklenburg and Guilford
• Housing report lists
                             Counties. There will be a special hearing of the House Banking Committee to investigate the
  need for more shelters
                             issue and we are working with the NC Justice Center, NC Legal Aid, NC Association of Housing
                             Counselors, NC Association of CDCs and many individual housing organizations to gather
• Money hits home
                             information and prepare for this opportunity for intervention by the General Assembly.
• Could it be? No more
  surprise fees at closing   2006 Annual Housing Conference
                             We are collaborating with CICNC this year to produce a joint annual housing conference in
• Groups seek housing        April. This will be the Housing Coalition's traditional Annual Conference with more workshops
  manager                    over a broader range of topics thanks to our partnership with CICNC. The conference is
                             scheduled for April 5th & 6th at the Marriott Twin City Quarter in Winston-Salem. Click here
• Northampton has            to learn more and register for this great event.
  money to help with
  heating bills              Thanks for your support of our work by being a member.

                             Chris Estes
                             Executive Director

The Housing Assistance Corp. in Hendersonville, NC will have Home Buyer Education
trainings on the following dates:

English                                  Spanish

March 2,9,16,23.                         April 6, 13, 20, 27.

May 4,11,18,25.                          August 10, 17, 24, 31.

July 6, 13, 20, 27.                      October 5, 12, 19, 26.

September 7, 14, 21, 28.

November 2, 9, 16.

For more information, please call:
(828) 692-0322

Mercy Housing’s website has downloadable material that may interest advocates of
affordable housing, including:

   •   The Housing Orientation Brochure
   •   A simple “Please Repair” form that clients can use to request repairs from their
   •   A Landlord Guide for renting to refugees

Each of these materials is translated into many languages. For more information, please visit
their website:

Less than two weeks left for reduced rates!

Please join the National Low Income Housing Coalition in Washington, DC for our annual
Housing Policy Conference & Lobby Day on February 27 and 28. They have an exciting
line-up of 27 workshops and two wonderful plenary speakers. They will also have a first-day
closing plenary on post-hurricane housing policies. Visit NLIHC’s conference website for the
brochure, registration information and more:

Registration and hotel rates increase on February 6.

Sip soup, help homeowners

Davidson Housing Coalition is hosing Souper Bowl II on Saturday at Davidson College.

The luncheon features soups donated by Lake Norman restaurants, such as The Prickly Pear
and Kudzu on the Village Green, to benefit the nonprofit group HAMMERS. HAMMERS (Hands
Around Mecklenburg/Mooresville Make Emergency Repairs Safely) is a joint initiative between
the Davidson Housing Coalition and Davidson College. The group provides free labor and
reduced-cost materials to low-income people who need emergency home repairs.

Diners will vote in several soup contests at the luncheon from 11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m. in the Lilly
Family Gallery of the Chambers Building, as well as enjoy live music and a silent auction of
bowls. Tickets are $3 for children, $6 for students and $10 for adults.

Details: (704) 892-4486.

Funding Announcement - NCHFA Supportive Housing Development Program

The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency announces the availability of funding for its
Supportive Housing Development Program. Up to $500,000 is available for nonprofits and
local governments. Supportive housing development proposals must serve persons with
disabilities or homeless populations. The 2006 Application Guidelines and the Program
Application can be downloaded by going to the following link:

Applicants are required to schedule a site visit with a member of the NCHFA Supportive
Housing Development Program no later than March 10.

New Competitive Program Announcements

SAMHSA announces two competitive programs that are designed to improve and replicate
systems of care; applications are due in late March. Applications are available by calling
SAMHSA’s clearinghouse at 1-800-729-6686, or by downloading from or Applicants are encouraged to apply on line using

   •   Strengthening Treatment Access and Retention - State Implementation (STAR-SI)
       makes available $2.2 million to states that want to implement system changes that
       create improvements in access to and retention in outpatient substance abuse
       treatment. Eligible applicants for up to seven projected awards totaling $2.2 million
       include states, the District of Columbia, territories, federally recognized tribes, and
       tribal organizations. Cost sharing is not required, and applications are due by March 24,
   •   Family Centered Substance Abuse Treatment Grants for Adolescents and their Families
       will award $5.2 million to nonprofit or government entities with proven approaches to
       adolescent treatment that include families as an integral part of the treatment process.
       The program will fund up to 17 awards for up to $300,000 per year in total costs (direct
       and indirect) for up to three years. No match is required. Eligible applicants are
       domestic public and private nonprofit entities including, for example, state and local
       governments; federally recognized tribes; state recognized tribes, urban Indian

         organizations; public or private universities and colleges; and community- and faith-
         based organizations. Applications are due by March 29, 2006.

The Affordable Housing Training Center will be sponsoring training on Single Family

Topics   include:
   •     Selecting the site;
   •     Board preparation;
   •     Conducting a financial analysis;
   •     Risk Management;
   •     Finding and requesting funds;
   •     Construction management;
   •     Marketing design; and
   •     Transition from construction to operation.

The training will be held in Greensboro, NC on March 29 & 30, 2006. For more information,
please call Felicia Jordan at 704-258-2302 or by email at:

The Affordable Housing Training Center and The Association of Housing Counselors
are will be presenting training opportunities in:

Basic Housing Counseling – Track A
Advanced Housing Counseling – Track B

The training will be held at The Holiday Inn Bordeaux, Fayetteville, NC on February 21-24,
2006. For more information, please call Felicia Jordan at 704-258-2302 or by email at:

Wake County’s “Ready To Rent” program is starting up again March 7th. The Ready To
Rent program provides consumers with:
    • 12 hours of tenant education
    • Information about tenant rights & responsibilities
    • Action steps towards repairing credit and finding housing
    • Referrals to landlords who take Ready To Rent graduates (for qualified participants)
Classes are held throughout Wake County.
For more information, please visit their website:


Lexington Housing CDC
Executive Director

Lexington Housing Community Development Corporation is accepting applications for the
position of Executive Director, a full-time salaried position available January 2006. The
Executive Director position involves day to day leadership, management, public
relations/marketing, resource acquisition and planning responsibilities. The Director, assisted
by the Board of Directors is responsible for enabling renters to become homeowners through
effective programs of client recruitment; education; training and support; marketing and
resource acquisition; and collaboration with partners, agencies, donors, businesses and
community organizations.

Other employment details and application forms can be obtained by contacting the Lexington
Housing CDC Personnel Committee at 336-236-1675 or by e-mailing
Resumes will not be accepted in lieu of applications. The position will remain open until filled.

Please feel free to email Nicole Bennett any announcements or local news articles you would
like to add to our weekly housing updates.



                  Salisbury Community Development Corporation (CDC) is a catalyst to
                  improve the quality of life in selected neighborhoods within the greater
                  Salisbury area.

                  Through utilization of innovative and creative methods, the CDC seeks to:

   •   Develop attractive, quality, affordable housing

   •   Encourage partnerships among other organizations with common goals and interests

   •   Empower individuals and families to become self-sufficient

Salisbury CDC is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including:
    • 2005 Mission Award, presented by Self Help Credit Union
   •   2004 Housing North Carolina Award, presented by the NC Housing Finance Agency
   •   2004 Sister Barbara Sullivan Award, presented to Board Member Karen Alexander by
       the NC Housing Coalition
   •   2004 Margaret H. Kluttz Neighborhood Improvement Award, presented by Salisbury
       Community Appearance Commission

   •   Rowan County United Way Partners
   •   2003 NC Center for Nonprofits Sector Stewards Award
   •   Outstanding Individual Housing Counselor Award for 2002, presented to Community
       Development Coordinator Lou Adkins by the NC Association of Housing Counselors

Recently, the CDC was featured in an article in the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s
magazine Marketwise. The article discussed the organization’s involvement with the NCHFA’s
Home Protection Pilot Program, particularly as it worked to help those who lost their jobs at
Pillowtex keep their homes. To read the article, go to and scroll down
to North Carolina CDC Saves and Builds Homes Simultaneously.
For more information, contact Chanaka V. Yatawara, Executive Director, at 704-638-4474 or

If you would like to see your organization featured in “Member Spotlight”, please e-mail Nicole


City of Washington
Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County
Lakewood Community Development Corporation
Sonye Randolph


Report: Shelter space scant for victims
More than 250 women, children turned away in Mecklenburg County last year

The Charlotte Observer
Carrie Levine
January 25, 2006

The number of emergency shelter beds for domestic violence victims in Mecklenburg is
"woefully inadequate," a new report on domestic violence services has found.

The county's only shelter for domestic violence victims has 29 beds and turned away more
than 250 women and children last year. The shelter, which provides women and children a safe
place to live for 30 days, has fewer beds than some surrounding smaller counties.

"That is a serious failure on our part," county commissioners Chairman Parks Helms said. "We
need to face up to the fact that we have not dealt with the issue with the degree of urgency
that we should."

The report found:

• Victims who call the Mecklenburg County Women's Commission for counseling must often
wait several months for an assessment, especially Spanish speakers.

• Domestic disturbance calls to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have increased 26 percent since

• The district attorney's domestic violence unit needs more staff to encourage victims to
cooperate in the prosecution of attackers.

• There is no one person or agency to coordinate services.

• More education is needed for victims, assailants and children.

Delays and lapses create safety risks, said Stacy Lowry, a former interim head of the Women's

"If women can't get services in a timely manner, they may not be able to have the information
and support they need to provide better safety for themselves and their children," she said.

Jane Taylor, the coordinator of shelter services for United Family Services, the agency that
runs the shelter, said workers there must "get creative," asking women if they can find a safe
place to spend one more night.

"We should be able to offer protection to anyone who legitimately needs it," Taylor said.

The agency paid for 29 motel rooms last year when the shelter was full. Workers also send
victims to other counties if space is available, said Karen Parker Thompson, director of
domestic violence services for UFS.

Anne Michael, a Lincoln County resident who received services from the Women's Commission
in 2000, said she later volunteered to spend evenings at Carolinas Medical Center as part of a
pilot program, and would call the shelter when a battered woman came in who needed a bed.

If the shelter was full, she said, she called the Salvation Army, which isn't equipped to provide
domestic violence services. Sometimes, she said, the woman would spend the night at the
hospital, hoping room would open up at the shelter in the morning.

"You can imagine, they just finished telling us they were scared to death and didn't want to go
back, and we're sitting there, `Is there anyone else you can call?' " she said.

Housing shortage

The report, which was commissioned by the county and written by an independent consultant,
also found the county needs transitional housing for women who leave the shelter after 30
days. Christa Cox Sumwalt, an assistant district attorney who coordinates the domestic
violence unit, said prosecutors are so busy, they usually can't contact victims until the day of
the trial.

Sumwalt said contacting victims in advance would make them more likely to cooperate and
less likely that charges will be thrown out of court.

The report said a coordinator -- either a person or an agency -- could help the different
agencies develop a shared vision, fill service gaps, and better track data when services are

The report also -- at the request of the county -- outlines possibilities for restructuring the
Women's Commission. If the county keeps the agency, the report said, it will need a strong
leader; it hasn't had a permanent leader since 2004.

Other possibilities include merging it into a new agency that would also oversee veterans
affairs and homeless support services, or asking UFS to take over under a contract with the

Carol Morris, the consultant who wrote the report, said many of the agencies do a good job
with scant resources and work together to coordinate efforts on their own. But no one helps
the different agencies involved with domestic violence services set common goals, she said.

"The problem is they are all overwhelmed," she said. "The other piece of it is, there could be
better integration of services."

County decisions

The county funds part of the shelter's budget, and Helms said he would make the issue a
priority this year. He'll begin by drawing attention to it in today's State of the County address.

The county spent about $2.1 million on domestic violence programs in this year's budget,
primarily for the Women's Commission and the shelter. The amount is a minuscule fraction of
the county budget, but last year, commissioners said the issue is a high priority for them.

County commissioner Jennifer Roberts said the county should increase funding this year, and
said the number of shelter beds compared with surrounding counties is "appalling."

"I think we do need to put more money into it," she said.

Call for Help

For assistance with domestic abuse in Mecklenburg County, call the Shelter for Battered
Women's 24-hour hot line at (704) 332-2513 or the Mecklenburg County Women's Commission
at (704) 336-3210. Elsewhere, call the National Domestic Violence hot line: (800) 799-SAFE


Plan to stop homelessness would cost $8 million
Money mostly would come from federal and state tax dollars

Winston-Salem Journal
Bertrand M. Gutierrez
January 25, 2006

After a nationwide initiative to "end" homelessness, Winston-Salem and Forsyth County
officials are considering a sweeping plan - with an $8 million price tag by 2015 - to establish
permanent housing and overhaul support services.

In a 44-page study by a consultant hired by the city of Winston-Salem for $53,000, city and
Forsyth County officials have teamed up with schools, churches and business leaders to
consider a different way to help homeless people get off the streets and into permanent
homes. Money would come from several sources, but mostly from federal and state tax dollars,
as well as local charities.

By 2015, the idea is to allocate 598 housing units, at a cost of more than $7 million a year, to
provide homes for people defined as chronically homeless, though some units could be used
for homeless people with short-term needs.

Federal housing officials define a chronically homeless person as an unaccompanied individual
with a disabling condition who has either been continually homeless for at least a year or who
has had at least four episodes of homelessness within three years.

Although housing would generate most of the expense, a wide array of proposed social
services would cost $1 million - money to hire a staff for a support system that would include
employment specialists, training, a data system and a one-stop resource center, among other
services. The payroll for the three employment specialists, for example, would be $150,000.

Mayor Allen Joines defended the plan, saying that homelessness costs about $5.4 million
annually and that the problem should be considered in the broader context of how it puts a
burden on other social institutions, including shelters, the mental-health system, emergency
rooms and police.

"What you have to keep in mind is you want to treat the whole problem. The hope with this
plan is you'll get them to be self-sufficient," Joines said.

With 598 housing units costing more than $7 million a year by 2015, the bill for one housing
unit would be about $11,800. Handling the homeless now are 15 shelters with 458 beds
costing about $5.4 million a year, or $11,790 a bed.

If the plan were implemented, the burden on local shelters would diminish, officials said, but
Sonjia Kurosky, the executive director of Samaritan Ministries off Patterson Avenue, said she
did not think that the need for her shelter would ever go away.

"Samaritan Ministries would love to close their doors, with hunger and homelessness not being
a problem," she said.

With the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development pushing local governments to
draft similar plans to end homelessness, 205 cities and counties have started 10-year plans,
and in North Carolina there are 10, according to city officials.

On any given day in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, there are 455 homeless people,
including those with short-term needs, according to a survey conducted last January. Of the
455, 214 are considered to be chronically homeless.

The survey is conducted annually, and this year's count starts today. During the course of a
year, it is estimated that nearly 1,800 people in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County have no

A large portion of the plan's money would come from the federal housing department, in the
form of Section-8 vouchers for rental assistance, according to Tim West, a homeless specialist
with the city's Department of Housing and Neighborhood Development.

Although Section-8 money already is managed by the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem to
provide affordable housing to low- and middle-income residents, the housing agency would not
take the lead in the plan to end homelessness.

"Unfortunately, they can't help all homeless persons that are reported to them. They have
limited flexibility because of certain barriers, like (a homeless person's) bad credit or a criminal
record," West said.

The 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness has been under way for about a year, with
cooperation from city, county and school officials as well as people from churches, colleges and
nonprofit groups, among others. With the plan still a work in progress, Council Member Wanda
Merschel said that she has more questions than answers.

"Why do we think this program is going to be more successful than the one we have in place?"
she asked.

Those interested in learning more about the 10-year plan may attend a presentation by West
in the Deacon Room of Joel Coliseum on Feb. 7 at 6:30 p.m.

• Bertrand M. Gutierrez can be reached at 727-7283 or at


Transient: Homeless students have special needs that schools help meet

Winston-Salem Journal
Danielle Deaver
January 25, 2006

The more than 400 students who are homeless and attend Winston-Salem/Forsyth County
schools every year need a lot of help.

Some need transportation to their home schools, which may suddenly be far from the hotel or
shelter in which they are living. Others need help getting school supplies. Some just need help
with homework while their parents either look for work or spend time at several jobs.

The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system spends federal money on most of the
homeless students' special needs. The system has two grants right now that total $151,201,
and school officials recently found out that they won a competitive grant from the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development for another $90,511.

"The money with Housing and Urban Development provides for direct services, which is
wonderful because it goes for a case-worker/homeless liaison, which is one po-sition, and also
a tutor to work with students," said Jerrilyn Johnson, the school system's liaison for homeless
students. "Our services and the grant money does go to help homeless students. We're

The school system's most recent one-day count of homeless students was on Dec. 19, when
there were children from 87 homeless families, including 35 children in prekindergarten and
157 school-age children. The school system typically works with more than 400 homeless
students a year, Johnson said.

"Our numbers change from day to day," she said.

Also, about 75 families moved to Forsyth County after their homes were destroyed by
Hurricane Katrina. The school system expects to get some money from the state in the next
month to help with the expenses of serving those students, said Kerry Crutchfield, the school
system's finance director.

Statewide, there were more than 10,000 homeless students in 2004-05, said Debra McHenry,
an education consultant for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

Such students have a lot of special needs, Johnson said.

"They might have self-esteem issues when it comes to a high-schooler who does not want to
be dropped off at a shelter or a hotel or motel," she said. "There are so many different losses.
They're losing their neighborhood, and they're losing their friends. They're losing their things in
many cases; it could be a teddy bear or a purse or even clothing if they're locked out."

Homeless students have other problems in school, too, said Diana Bowman, the director of for
the National Center for Homeless Education.

"A lot of times, the families are in some state of chaos and they can't address the basic needs
of the child. The child comes to school sleepy and hungry, and (they) don't always have proper
clothes to wear," Bowman said.

Students are also more likely to move frequently when they are homeless. It can take students
four to six months to catch up with their academic work after they move, Bowman said.

"When you have a child whose family is homeless, a lot of times they move in with a relative,
then to a shelter, then somewhere else.... They're moving around a lot,'' she said.

The result is that such students may be left "hopelessly behind," she said.

Another obstacle for education is that children whose families are homeless fear that they will
be stigmatized if their peers know. Sometimes students are dropped off a block or two from a
shelter so that other students don't see where they're living.

Winston-Salem's new HUD grant money will be used to help students so that they don't
struggle with their schoolwork, Johnson said.

The grant helps to pay for tutors who work with students at the Salvation Army after school.
There is also an enrichment program during the summer for the students.

Kathy Chalfant, a teacher's assistant with the school system, works with about 25 to 30
homeless students every week at the Salvation Army.

"A lot of it is just getting them caught up. We make sure that they have the materials that
they need to get their work done properly and help with homework," she said.

Some fear that the problem of homelessness may get worse.

"In terms of the number of students, I think there has been a significant increase from year to
year, with lack of affordable housing, lack of increase in wages for families,'' Bowman said.
"It's just difficult for families who are living on the cusp of poverty to maintain housing."

• Danielle Deaver can be reached at 727-7279 or at


Foreclosure rate 'disaster' sparks action
Series on state's soaring foreclosure rate leads to new N.C. House panel

The Charlotte Observer
Lisa Hammersly Munn and Binyamin Appelbaum
January 26, 2006

N.C. House leaders on Wednesday began forming a study committee to attack the growing
problem of home foreclosures in Charlotte and across the state.

Their aim is to propose actions for the General Assembly to consider when it convenes this

Rep. Walter Church, who will chair the committee, says the effort was spurred by the
Observer's series last week on the rising number of foreclosures in the Charlotte area.

"We want to see what can be done to help save people's homes," said Church, a Burke County

The problem of foreclosures is racing out of control, he says. In almost two decades as head of
a savings and loan in Valdese, Church said he foreclosed on only five or six loans. The
Observer reported that on average, 11 Mecklenburg County homes are now sold in foreclosure
auctions every business day.

Foreclosures happen when borrowers miss mortgage payments. After three missed payments,
a home can be seized and sold to repay the lender. An explosion of new loan products over the
past decade make it easier than ever to buy a home, and easier than ever to lose one.

State regulators and consumer protection groups also said this week that they will propose
ways to combat home loan failures.

• N.C. Commissioner of Banks Joseph Smith says he favors listing the name of the person who
arranges a loan, generally a mortgage broker, on public real estate documents. That would
allow investigators and the public to see which loan-sellers are connected with foreclosures.

Smith, the state's chief banking regulator, said the skyrocketing number of foreclosures is "a
disaster." The failure of so many loans could undermine public confidence in the mortgage
lending industry, he warned.

Smith licenses and regulates 14,000 loan sellers in North Carolina. He has the power to
suspend licenses. But without better records, Smith said it's hard to trace the roots of

• Philip Humphries, executive director of the N.C. Appraisal Board, says adding appraisers'
names to public real estate documents also would be a good step if it helps reduce
foreclosures. If an appraiser inflates the value of a home, borrowers can receive loans larger
than the amount anyone else would pay for the house.

• Alfred Ripley with the N.C. Justice Center says his group wants better record-keeping on
the causes of foreclosures, especially to see if some industry professionals are taking actions
that contribute to the foreclosure problem. "There are people in the marketplace who are
misleading consumers," he said.

Ripley says his group and other consumer protection experts will look at ways counties could
provide more information on each foreclosed loan. His group also will talk about studying a
particular group of borrowers who lost their homes.

The Observer found Mecklenburg has the highest rate of foreclosures per capita in the state.
Foreclosures in the county have more than quadrupled in the past six years.

About two-thirds of those home-loan failures involve new types of loans designed for
borrowers with lower incomes or problem credit. More than 80 percent involved homes valued
at $150,000 or less.

That combination of easy credit and inexpensive homes caused clusters of foreclosures on
more than 70 Mecklenburg streets, where at least 15 percent of the homes foreclosed between
2003 and early 2005. That's at least five times higher than the failure rate on all loans in the

The newspaper found the high foreclosure rates depressed surrounding property values,
trapping neighbors in homes they couldn't sell, even if they paid their mortgages on time.

House Speaker Jim Black, D-Mecklenburg, decided to form the committee after hearing
concerns from House members, said spokesman Angie Whitener.

"It's an issue he's very concerned about," she said.

The committee's work would get started in the near future. The finish line is this year's short
session, which begins May 9.


Solutions discussed at housing forum

The Charlotte Observer
January 26, 2006

Ninety-three people met at a forum last week to determine how to develop more affordable
housing and services for homeless people. The event was organized by the Piedmont Regional
Continuum of Care, a consortium of public service agencies, nonprofit organizations, advocacy
groups, housing developers and financial groups serving Cabarrus, Rowan, Stanly, Davidson
and Union counties.

The forum featured panel discussions on development and housing programs; housing policies,
services and advocacy issues; and state and local initiatives to end homelessness.

The forum also had speakers representing the local, state and national levels, such as Dan
Coughlin, CEO of Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare, and John Tote, executive director of the
N.C. Mental Health Association.

Phillip Mangano, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, called for
areas represented by the Continuum of Care to create 10-year plans to end homelessness.

The forum included the presentation of $672,612, representing the amount recently awarded
to the consortium by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to develop housing
and services in the five-county region.

For information on the continuum or to help with homelessness, call Jim Curtin at (704) 721-
7067 or e-mail


Homeless get help

Fayetteville Online
Melissa Willett
January 26, 2006

Richard McCloud shook his head as he talked about why he chose drugs and homelessness
over his family. At the start of his 18-year-marriage, he drank alcohol. He then moved on to
marijuana and cocaine.

McCloud spent almost 15 years in prison and eventually became homeless.

“I consider crack cocaine to be the destroyer of my life,” McCloud said.

He says he has kept his New Year’s promise to stay clean but admits it’s a daily struggle. He
has started a 12-step program through a county agency to help with his substance abuse.

McCloud joined about 100 other homeless people Wednesday at St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church
at Ramsey and Moore streets to, Fayetteville police say, “help close the gap on homelessness.”

At least a dozen Fayetteville and Cumberland County agencies set up booths and distributed
information about substance-abuse help, jobs, mental health services and how to find a place
to live.

The homeless had HIV and blood-pressure tests and were given hygiene kits and haircuts.

The Fayetteville police homeless officer, Stacy Swinton, said that by noon at least 100
homeless people had stopped by.

McCloud said many of the people he meets on the streets have similar stories. He has been
homeless since 2002. He is 47 and has two grown sons.

Into a plastic drug-store bag, he stuffed pamphlets from the Department of Social Services,
the CARE Center, Operation Blessing and other agencies.

McCloud wore a pair of heavy work boots and a green coat. He said he eats regularly when he
gets free meals and sometimes works selling tires.

As McCloud looked over the booths, he said he didn’t need the services — he was there for the
free information so he could share it with friends.

“Am I hungry? No,” McCloud said. “Do I need clothes? No.”

He said he used to sleep on a porch across from the bus station on Person Street. Now he
stays in a nearby shed.

“I got a little mattress and a few blankets; it’s a nice little home,” McCloud said.

Swinton keeps track of more than 200 homeless women, men and children in Fayetteville.

“We plan to do another one of these on Feb. 15 at the Omni Plaza on Sycamore Dairy Road,”
Swinton said. “We’ll be feeding them at lunchtime and giving them cold-weather gear.”

Staff writer Melissa Willett can be reached at or at 486-3574.


Volunteers count local homeless population

The Greensboro News-Record
Jason Hardin
January 26, 2006

GREENSBORO -- Never mind the dead rat.

The bleeding rodent on the railroad tracks is not the most unpleasant thing about living under
a Freeman Mill Road bridge.

Greensboro Police officer T.C Tepedino looks into an old mobile home as Uvonne Leverett

There's the noise, a constant swooshing sound that happens every time a car passes overhead.
There's the mess, a slippery slope of empty beer bottles and trash.

Uvonne Leverett checks under tractor trailers for flooring that may have rotted out and created
a way for homeless persons to get into the trailers to live or sleep.
And on Wednesday night, there was the cold, as temperatures dropped below freezing.

There are better places to be, but for one reason or another, Guilford County's homeless aren't
in those places. So volunteers looked elsewhere Wednesday during the annual count of the
local homeless population.

It will take organizers at least a few days to come up with a total, but last year, the count
found nearly 2,000 homeless people in Guilford County.

Selah Edwards is one of them.

The 54-year-old planned to spend the night in a wooded area just off East Lee Street.

Edwards, who was sitting under a tree with an unsmoked cigarette by his side, said he has
been homeless for about four months.

He said alcohol has been a problem.

"This is just something I'm doing to myself," he said.

Still, he said he believes he can quit and thanked the survey volunteers for dropping by.

Although many homeless people have problems with drugs and alcohol, organizers say there is
no single reason people are homeless.

Some are pregnant. Some are children. Some work but still don't manage to get a permanent
roof over their heads.

"They never save enough money for the deposit on that apartment," said Gail Haworth, one of
the organizers.

The volunteers don't pry too much.

They don't ask for names, and they ask just a handful of questions.

They're accompanied by police officers, who use a soft touch during the count. The officers
announce their presence, but then back off to give the volunteers space to talk.

Haworth said it's important to get an accurate count of the homeless.

In order to do that, volunteers go all across the county, including High Point, Pleasant Garden
and Jamestown. The homeless don't just live in downtown Greensboro, although many do tend
to live near organizations that provide food or other assistance.

Haworth said a kind of summit on homelessness is planned for February. Elected officials will
gather to discuss ways to end homelessness in the area.

Until that happens, the streets will remain home for many.

Before they left, police officers gave Edwards a couple of blankets.

He seemed touched.

One would make a nice gift, he said, for his daughter, who lives in a home nearby. Edwards
said he wasn't too cold himself.

But the temperature kept dropping.

Contact Jason Hardin at 373-7021 or


Housing report lists need for more shelters

The Greensboro News-Record
Margaret Moffett Banks
January 26, 2006

GREENSBORO -- The city needs shelters for homeless people who are drunk and separate
shelters for 18- to 21-year-olds, according to a housing report released Wednesday.

The report also said the Greensboro Housing Authority, which houses the city's lowest-income
residents, needs more units -- since 4,400 people are on the waiting list.

Those were some of the more than 140 findings from the city's first comprehensive housing
study in 25 years.

It was compiled by Gary Paul Kane, executive director of the Center to Create Housing
Opportunities and the former president of Weaver Investment Co.

The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro commissioned the report, which looks
broadly at everything from homelessness to community development.

Foundation officials want to pinpoint the city's greatest housing needs, then find the means --
and money -- to fix them, said Walker Sanders, the foundation's executive director.

The report will be the topic of Tuesday's Housing Summit 2006, which will include a video tour
of substandard housing and address ways to end homelessness in Guilford County.

Among Kane's other findings:

• Someone should provide financial incentives for developers to build high-end homes in areas
of the city dominated by low-income homes.

"We've had some nice houses built in some of the low-income areas, but we don't have
enough," said Eunice Dudley, the chairwoman of the foundation's housing committee.

One example of that type of neighborhood is Willow Oaks, a subsidized community formerly
known as Morningside Homes. When the neighborhood is finished later this year, developers
hope to attract a mix of residents -- from the working poor who need a government subsidy to
upscale professionals who could afford to live anywhere in the city.

• The city needs homeless shelters for women who don't speak English or have identification.

"It's difficult to get into these shelters if you don't have ID," Kane said.

• City officials and developers should consider the idea of "single-room occupancy housing,"
which would involve remodeling unused motels into affordable one-room homes.

• Greensboro needs to address "slumlord" housing -- rental property that owners neglect,
oftentimes skirting city housing codes.

Andy Scott, the city's housing director, said such property owners "don't make decisions in a
vacuum." They're able to find people to rent run-down apartments and homes, which means
the city needs to find a way to make "slumlording" illegal and unprofitable, he said.

"These people wouldn't be able to do what they do if they couldn't make money doing it," Scott

• The city should find ways to make living downtown more affordable.

As it stands, most homes and apartments downtown cater to middle- to high-income
professionals. Kane said other communities have come up with creative ways to diversify
downtown by, for example, building affordable units on top of public libraries.

"Affordable housing is not a stigma," Sanders said. "If you're going to have a vibrant
community, a diverse community, then where are these people going to live?"

Contact Margaret Moffett Banks at 373-7031 or


Money hits home
Can Charlotte afford $76 million a year to build on housing trust fund's success?

Charlotte Observer
Michelle Crouch
January 28, 2006

Five years after Charlotte created an innovative fund for affordable housing, more than 800
homes for some of the city's poorest residents have been built or renovated, and 1,500 more
are on the way.

There's McCreesh Place, home to 60 men with physical and mental disabilities, some off the
streets for the first time in years.

There's the Rivermere Apartments in northwest Charlotte, where half the new units are
reserved for the working poor.

And there's 324 S. Cloudman St., 29-year-old Besheba Cunningham's first home.

"You don't know how happy I am having a house," said Cunningham, whose home was built by
Habitat for Humanity. "It's got three bedrooms, a big yard, a long front porch and everything."

They all got money from the city's $47 million housing trust fund, financed mostly by voter-
approved bonds in 2002 and 2004.

Now, the money is almost gone, and the trust fund's advisory committee is asking for more.

Members cite a new study that forecasts a need for 12,530 new rental units in Charlotte by
2010 for families earning less than $16,000 a year.

The city would need to spend about $76 million a year to meet only half that need, the
committee said, but recommends it as an investment vital to the city's economic prosperity.

"It's not just a question of how you house the poorest of poor, but how you house them in a
way that allows them to really achieve their potential," said committee chairman Anthony

Critics say the city should end the program, putting money into roads and public safety

"It's nothing but a welfare program, and welfare programs generally don't work," said former
Charlotte City Council member Don Reid, a Republican. "Besides, we simply can't afford it."

Huge price tag

Several Charlotte City Council members said they would like the program to continue, but not
at the level Lindsey's committee envisioned."$76 million is out of the question," said Democrat
Susan Burgess, noting that she would consider supporting a bond for a smaller amount.

Republican Pat Mumford said he, too, would support another bond. He also wants to look at
offering developers tax credits or land.

"There will be a price to pay if the city doesn't address the housing need," he said.

The council this week referred the issue to its housing committee for more discussion.

Bonds, partnerships

Housing has been a high priority for the council since 2000, when a city-appointed committee
reported that 31 percent of all county households struggle to find or pay for a home.

That prompted the council in 2002 to ask voters for the first time to approve bonds for
affordable housing, following the lead of other cities.

At the same time, the city dramatically changed its approach.

Instead of being the major lender on subsidized housing, the city now partners with private
developers and contributes only a small amount to most projects.

Since the trust fund was started, private developers have spent $4 for every $1 in city money.

"Taxpayers aren't carrying the burden of providing these units," Lindsey said.

Private developers say the trust fund's financing has been essential.

"It might not sound like a lot of money, but it fills the gap," said Pat Garrett, president of the
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership. "It's key. It's the loan that makes the deal work."

The partnership, a private, nonprofit developer that builds affordable housing, has won six of
the 32 grants and loans that have been awarded from the trust fund so far. Other developers
include Boulevard Centro, Crosland, Habitat for Humanity and the Charlotte Housing Authority.

Tax credits help

Every year, developers submit projects that compete for trust fund money. Each project's
financing is different, but most depend on state tax credits as well as the city money to keep
units affordable.The advisory committee recommends those with the most merit, giving
priority to housing that serves families earning less than $19,230 a year, which is 30 percent
of the area's median income.

About 60 percent of the units fall into that category.

That sets Charlotte apart, said Sheila Crowley, president of the National Low Income Housing
Coalition. While a growing number of cities are focusing on affordable housing, she said, most
others haven't done a good job of serving the poorest of the poor, where the real need is.

Charlotte's trust fund committee also looks for mixed-income housing, in which the poor live
next to those paying market-rate rents, and housing that serves populations with special
needs, such as the elderly or the disabled.

Ken Szymanski, president of the Charlotte Apartment Association, said the city should consider
spending some trust fund money getting people into existing apartments, noting that
complexes in low-income areas often have high vacancy rates.

"Targeting 100 percent of monies for new construction may not be the most efficient use of
public money," he said.

Others say new housing is important to help revitalize neighborhoods.

Kymberly Davidson-Wade lived with family before moving into a city-financed apartment
complex off Tyvola Road six months ago.

She said the $422-a-month rent for a two-bedroom apartment made it possible for her to
finally move into her own place with her two children.

"Other apartments I lived in before had the same amenities but were double the rent, and I
just couldn't pay the bills," she said. "This has made daily life a lot easier."

Quick Facts on Renters

• About 37 percent of Mecklenburg County households rent their homes.

• About 16 percent of all renter households earn less than $15,000 a year.

• The median gross rent paid as a percent of annual income in Mecklenburg County is 24.3%

• 28 percent of renter households paid more than 30 percent of their annual household income
toward rent; 16 percent paid more than 50 percent.


Could it be? No more surprise fees at closing
Growing numbers of mortgage lenders are thinking of new ways to turn their settlement cost
estimates into binding promises.

Charlotte Observer
Washington Report
Kenneth Harney
January 29, 2006

It's a distressingly familiar scenario for home buyers and refinancers, and was one of the
major mortgage-related consumer complaints to federal agencies in 2005: ''Good faith
estimates'' of settlement costs that turn out to be hundreds, even thousands, of dollars off the

Previously undisclosed charges for ''processing,'' ''administration,'' and other vague services
mysteriously appear out of nowhere on the HUD-1 settlement form. What was estimated up
front as $2,200 in total fees turns out instead to be $3,400 at the actual close.

That, in turn, forces consumers into a Hobson's choice: Do I pay the extra charges even
though they were never included in the good faith estimates? Or do I blow up the whole deal --
potentially losing the house I want to buy or the mortgage I need -- over a lowball estimate?

Federal housing officials are working on possible remedies, but here's some unexpected good
news: So are mortgage lenders themselves. Growing numbers of them have gotten the
message from their customers -- we demand certainty about fees at the bottom line -- and
they are debuting ways to turn their estimates into rock-solid, binding promises.

For example, this month SunTrust Mortgage, which is ranked among the 20 highest-volume
home lenders in the country, began rolling out what it calls ''good faith guarantees.'' When
retail loan applicants receive their good faith estimate disclosures, SunTrust now adds
language that commits the company to deliver those prices at settlement. SunTrust is a
subsidiary of Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks and operates in 50 states and the District of


Another large mortgage industry player, LendingTree, has begun offering lenders on its
network what it calls settlement services ''bundles.'' The packaged bundles include everything
needed to close the mortgage from title search and insurance to credit reports and appraisals.
They often carry lower total costs to lenders than they'd pay assembling the same services on
their own.

Participating lenders are thereby better positioned to offer more accurate estimates of total
closing charges, and even pass on the lower, wholesale market costs to borrowers.
LendingTree is a Charlotte, N.C.-based national mortgage and realty services aggregator that
connects loan applicants with 260 independent lenders who participate in its network. It
typically promises mortgage applicants competitive quotes from up to four lenders. Roughly 50
of its lenders are now buying settlement service bundles through LendingTree Settlement
Services, its wholly owned, in-house ''vendor management'' company.

Sterling Edmunds, CEO of SunTrust Mortgage, says ''We listened to our customers and they
told us that the important thing to them is certainty'' about settlement cost estimates. ``So
now we're going to guarantee them.''

As an alternative to guaranteed estimates, SunTrust also offers fixed-fee ''packages'' of
services upfront, allowing applicants to compare SunTrust's total costs with those of
competitors such as ABN-AMRO Mortgage, and E-Loan, who promote their own
version of guaranteed settlement cost programs.


Behind SunTrust's innovations on fees is the same concept that undergirds LendingTree's:
acquisitions of services from vendors who specialize in pulling together title, appraisal, credit,
flood zone certification and other settlement services at discounted, wholesale market costs.
(In Florida, the cost of title insurance is set by the state and vendors are not allowed to offer
discounts, though the costs of title searches and some other costs may vary by vendor.) The
vendors typically have negotiated contracts with hundreds of individual providers of services
across the country who are willing to accept lower fees in exchange for higher volumes of
orders. Instead of buying your appraisal here, your title insurance there, and each of your
services from a different source, you buy a complete package from a specialized settlement
vendor -- generally with a lower total cost.

David Anderson, general manager of LendingTree Settlement Services, says his company got
into the business of offering bundled services as both a quality control measure and as a way
to lower costs for lenders and their borrowers. Consumer research by LendingTree found that

although customers often were satisfied with the rates on the loans they obtained, too often
they were unhappy about the closing process.

''We kept hearing about situations where unexpected fees would pop up and [borrowers] would
say, oh my goodness, here's another $3,000 I didn't know about'' on the settlement sheet.

Now LendingTree essentially buys the services itself -- at wholesale costs -- and has better
control over the quality, timeliness and pricing of those services through its lender network

Bottom line: With lenders themselves stepping forward to deal with closing cost shocks and
consumer abuses, who knows what's next? Maybe good faith estimates just might come with a
lot more good faith, and a whole lot fewer rude surprises at settlement.

Kenneth Harney, president of a Maryland consulting and publishing firm, is executive director
of the National Real Estate Development Center. E-mail:


Groups seek housing manager

The Durham Herald-Sun
Rob Shapard
January 29, 2006

CHAPEL HILL -- Local affordable housing groups hope to put all of their rental units under one
property manager.

They would need to create a new position and hire the manager, and they're asking the elected
boards of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County to pay roughly half the cost.

The groups figure the property manager would cost about $68,600 in the first year, including
$50,000 in salary and the rest in benefits and costs related to managing the units.

In a proposal sent to the three boards, the groups request funding that would total about
$33,800 in the first year. That includes requests for about $6,800 from Carrboro, and $13,500
each from Chapel Hill and Orange County.

The manager would work for Empowerment Inc., one of the five groups along with Orange
Community Housing and Land Trust, Affordable Rentals Inc., Habitat for Humanity of Orange
County and the Chrysalis Foundation.

"Each nonprofit has found that both its growth and its ability to meet current demands for
service are limited by the need to spend time, energy and funds on property management,"
the groups state in their proposal. "Management of rental property requires skills that are
different from the demands of home ownership development.

"Commercial managers are reluctant to take on the special concerns that go along with serving
the populations whose needs the nonprofits address," they added.

The groups currently have a total of 58 rental units under their control, and they expect to
boost that number to around 80 over the next five years, said Delores Bailey, executive
director of Empowerment.

"For the ones of us that have a large number of affordable rentals, each one of those
organizations is spending manpower maintaining the apartments, whether it's finding folks to
live in the units, processing applications or actual maintenance of the apartments," Bailey said.

"The good thing is that [a new manager's] efforts could be concentrated on those units," she
said. "It wouldn't be just if he or she could carve out some time in the day to go take care of
the units."

Bailey said Affordable Rentals board member Nancy Milio had spearheaded the idea.

The aim would be to find a manager with at least two years' experience managing at least 30
units. Each of the groups would put about $50 a month into a reserve fund for maintenance
needs, Bailey said.

It's still early in the budget process for the local governments, which likely will approve their
2006-07 budgets in June.


Northampton has money to help with heating bills

Roanoke Daily Herald
Amy Lotven
January 30, 2006

JACKSON - Northampton County will distribute more than $50,000 in additional state funds to
help eligible residents with heating costs beginning Tuesday morning at the Department of
Social Services in Jackson.

In order to receive help, Northampton County residents must bring in proof of need as well as
a heating utility cut-off notice, unless the household includes a person over 60 years of age, a
child under 2 years or someone with a disability verified by either the Social Security or
Veteran's Administration.

The county will begin accepting applications - using a number system - at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday,
and will continue each morning until the funds are depleted. Households are only able to
receive up to $300 per fiscal year in crisis funding, so those who have already reached that
limit are not eligible. Funding will go directly to the utility companies, and no checks will be
given to residents.

Halifax County has also received funds. However, it is not known when they will be distributed
as Halifax DSS Director Michael Felt was not available Friday.

Northampton County's additional $53,466 comes from the extra $4 million Gov. Mike Easely
agreed to release after he was approached by a number of state legislators worried about the
predicted increase in heating fuel costs this winter.

“I have total appreciation and respect for Gov. Easely for his sensitivity and immediate
leadership in providing for these additional funds,” Dr. Al Wentzy, director of the Northampton
County Department of Social Services, said Friday. “And I recognize and thank Rep. (Michael)
Wray for joining 39 North Carolina House representatives (who called for the additional

This is the second time Easely has authorized the release of state funding to assist with
heating costs in as many months. In December, Easely authorized the release of $3.4 million
in state emergency funds for the same purpose. Those funds were matched dollar-for-dollar by
various utility companies.

Wentzy is optimistic the federal government will move to assist more people. He recently
received a letter from U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, in response to a letter Wentzy had penned in
October requesting more federal funding for fuel costs as heating costs were predicted to
increase 30 to 60 percent this winter. Federal support for the low-income heating energy
assistance program (LIHEAP) has decreased one-third this year compared to last.

On Dec. 20, Burr, who sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee which
oversees LIHEAP, responded to Wentzy's mail and said he would assist.

“Of particular interest, (Burr) indicated that the model congress uses to allocate heating funds
to the states is 20 years old,” Wentzy said. “Keep in mind that North Carolina is tied as being
the fifth fastest growing state in the nation, and that leads me to believe that North Carolina
and specifically our needy citizens are being substantially shortchanged.

“Secondly, Sen. Burr indicated that he believes the qualification standard should be reduced
and if it was, he indicates that North Carolina would stand to gain $20 million dollars.”

Wentzy said that after he received this “much-appreciated letter,” he forwarded a copy to Gov.
Easely with a request that North Carolina include Burr's comments in the state's legislative

He also provided a copy of the letter to all other 99 county DSS directors asking them
specifically to advocate with each of their U.S. Representatives to support Sen. Burrs
recommended changes. “The bottom line is we need to look out for our needy citizens,” he

He noted that from July 1 to date, Northampton County has used the funds to assist 737
households, 73 percent of which are at 100 percent or less of the federal poverty level. “We
strive to particularly assist the elderly 60 years or older, the disabled or those with children
under the age of five in the family,” he said.

Of the 737 households, 43 percent had a person 60 years or older, 56 percent had a disabled
person and 16 percent had young children in the home. Some households had multiple factors,
for example a 60 year-old person who is disabled.



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