On May 5 Murray City Council voted to renew its partnership with NeighborWorks through 2017. NeighborWorks is a non-profit organization that provides financial education and loans for housing rehabilitation, with 22 projects complete or pending to date within the city.
The partnership originated in 2010. In the city’s 2009 housing analysis, “we identified areas in Murray that we need to address related to the age of our housing stock … and keeping our housing stock very positive for the community,” said Tim Tingey, director of the city’s redevelopment agency.
The city brought in NeighborWorks to help in those areas. NeighborWorks has operated for many years in Salt Lake City, completing many multiple-home neighborhood rehabilitation projects there. They are a national entity with financial and housing expertise.
In return for NeighborWorks’s services, the city provides administrative funding to staff a local Murray office; NeighborWorks can then provide its expertise and funding sources locally.
“The great benefit about NeighborWorks is that they match us dollar for dollar so that funding we put in through the city or redevelopment agency, they match those dollars by raising private and federal grant [funding],” said Tingey.
One of the services NeighborWorks provides is financial fitness courses and foreclosure counseling, available to any Murray resident.
NeighborWorks also provides home improvement loans to those who qualify. Typical projects include repairs to roofs, water leaks and siding, but can be much larger as the homeowner needs.
Any Murray resident can apply for the loan program. To qualify, they may earn up to 120% of the area’s median income and must have an acceptable debt-to-income ratio. These factors primarily determine the size of the loan and its terms. NeighborWorks can help unsuccessful applicants through its financial courses to help them qualify for the loan program.
Because NeighborWorks acquires funding through private and government sources, it can offer loan rates at or below prime.
The current agreement states that NeighborWorks will issue no fewer than eight such loans through 2017. Tingey believes that if more qualifying loan requests were made, NeighborWorks would find the funds to fill them.
In addition to financial courses and loan programs, NeighborWorks purchases blighted or problem homes. They then either rehabilitate the home if feasible, or demolish it and build a new home in its place. The current agreement states that NeighborWorks will complete a minimum of two such projects through 2017.
NeighborWorks selects homes to be purchased and rehabilitated through a collaborative effort with the city. A neighborhood complaint may bring a problem home to their attention, or an individual who is unable to sell their home because of its condition may offer their own home for the program.
One such home is located at 6521 South 700 West. Among other problems with the home, its previous occupants had used it to produce drugs, bringing many associated challenges to the neighborhood. NeighborWorks purchased and demolished the home, and has nearly completed the new one. Once sold, the home must be owner-occupied.
“We are thrilled to have NeighborWorks in Murray because they’re a great organization and are a great partner with us to meet our housing needs in Murray,” said Tingey. “We don’t have the credibility or expertise that they have in this area. They’ve been doing this for over 30 years. We would not be able to leverage the funds that they can.”
Anyone wishing to take a financial course, apply for a loan or find out more about NeighborWorks and its services should visit their office at 4843 Poplar Street (60 East).