NACA, a non-profit organization established in 1998, is defined by its leadership as a community advocacy and homeownership organization with the primary goal to build strong, healthy neighborhoods in urban and rural areas nationwide through affordable homeownership. They report that they have made the dream of homeownership a reality for thousands of working people by counseling them honestly and effectively, enabling even those with poor credit to purchase a home or modify their predatory loan with far better terms than those provided in the prime market.
Known for no down payment, no closing cost, no private mortgage insurance, character lending, no perfect credit, and below-market interest rates, NACA’s mission is to make homeownership available with the best terms for its members who otherwise would be prevented from obtaining an affordable mortgage. Utilizing a proprietary software system, they developed “NACA-Lynx” —enabling the organization to administer a comprehensive housing counseling program where their members are prepared for homeownership and qualifies to obtain mortgage financing. NACA-Lynx is described as a paperless, web-based mortgage counseling, processing and underwriting system to make the home-buying experience very convenient and efficient. NACA also creates a personal web-file providing updates for its members outlining their status and next steps. Members also receive comprehensive one-on-one counseling which NACA officials consider the cornerstone of its program.
The Homewood, East Hills, East Liberty, Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar, and Larimer Protection Initiative is a comprehensive resident-driven initiative designed to protect, strengthen, and rebuild the targeted communities. The HELP Initiative’s overall goals are to: protect, preserve and increase affordable housing choices in Pittsburgh’s East End neighborhoods; support positive outcomes for families who live within the communities; transform targeted communities of poverty into viable, mixed-income communities; ensure green infrastructure and sustainable design principles are incorporated in targeted communities planning processes; and facilitate local business development within the communities.
HELP achieves its goals by creating and implementing community-specific strategies and solutions in the Homewood, East Hills, East Liberty, Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar, and Larimer neighborhoods by bringing together residents and community organizations, funders, government agencies, and developers to create affordable housing opportunities.
The guiding principles of the initiative are resident-driven development, comprehensive planning, mixed-income communities and avoiding displacement. Challenges have been identified as crime, neighborhood blight and Market-Rate Pressures.
When the initiative was kicked off last year, residents from the five neighborhoods signed a five-point pledge committing to support the plan to transform distressed low-income communities into stable mixed-income communities; to improve the health, safety, employment, and education of families; to demand living wage jobs, high performing schools, early childhood education, and accessible public transformation; to create parks, clean open spaces, green design, conservation and energy reduction and to support local entrepreneurship and the rebuilding of historic business districts.
With Pittsburgh’s’ current affordable housing crisis and fast approaching crisis creeping across the United States, Rev. Burgess views NACA as an important step towards increasing homeownership in his district. “This is the most exciting thing happening in our city,” he said. “All these abandoned houses will be able to be purchased and rehabbed as if they are brand new inside providing affordable housing.”
Based in Boston, founded and headed by Bruce Marks, the organization has 46 offices, with the closest to Pittsburgh located in Cleveland. Reverend Burgess pointed out that his goal is to have a NACA office in Pittsburgh to provide direct acess to residents.
“The NACA Home Buyers Workshop was very well received by our neighborhood residents. The success of the workshops planted seeds on the journey to homeownership for our constituents’ future,” said Rev. Burgess.
(For more information on NACA and the HELP Initiative contact Pam Collier at PCollier@HelpPgh.Org.)
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