All of us have seen foreclosed homes and most of us know someone who has either been forced into foreclosure or has struggled to make their mortgage payments.
As the leader of Rebuilding Together, one of the nation’s leading nonprofits dedicated to providing safe and healthy housing for America’s low-income homeowners, and the Executive Director of Rebuilding Together Springfield we have seen more than our share of the devastating effects of the housing crisis.
Homeowners and their families have been forced to move out of their homes and communities; neighborhoods have been blighted due to homes in disrepair; and dislocation and transportation costs have increased as families move further from work. The impact has been devastating.
One family we helped comes to mind. The Swan Family, a recent single mom with four children. Cynthia Swan is a military veteran who was now raising four children on her own with one income. Her roof was leaking into the home making it unsafe for the family to live there. Rebuilding Together in Springfield lent a hand by replacing her roof including 95 sheets of plywood, installing new gutters and painting the exterior. The Swans are now doing well.
Amongst all the struggles in the last three years, Rebuilding Together in Springfield and other Rebuilding Together affiliates across the country have seen numerous other instances of families supported, neighborhoods stabilized and entire communities reinvigorated. We are a non-partisan network of nonprofits that is predominately funded by the private sector and is supported by over 200,000 volunteers.
We write to you today about an idea we believe can help increase the cases where low-income homeowners can stay in their homes and remain self-sufficient.
Project Rebuild, a proposed federal initiative, would create jobs by making competitive funding available to nonprofits, state and local governments and consortia; entities aware of foreclosure and other housing problems, and provide solutions to repair and renovate houses so that they can successfully be returned to the market as homes for low- and moderate-income people.
Work would include buttoning up foreclosed homes (doors, windows, locks), maintaining yards, removing debris, and creating community green spaces in neighborhoods where Rebuilding Together currently focuses community revitalization work.
The proposal would make $10 billion available to state and local governments and $5 billion available via competitive grants to nonprofits. It would create approximately 191,000 jobs and help rehab at least 150,000 properties across the United States.
Project Rebuild would be a great way to accelerate and deepen Rebuilding Together’s impact. Rebuilding Together affiliates already contribute a wealth of knowledge and expertise in working with low-income homeowners in distressed neighborhoods, having completed 10,000 projects last year. Our 192 affiliate nonprofits are ready to play an even greater role in supporting the stabilization of neighborhoods and communities.
Project Rebuild and Rebuilding Together build on the lessons learned over the past three years. Project Rebuild directly ties the creation of jobs to decent and safe housing by creating employment opportunities that will help renovate and maintain eligible neighborhood properties. Rebuilding Together partners with skilled trade organizations such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, the National Roofing Contractors Association, and others.
The private sector and nonprofits along with state and local government would be able to rebuild America’s neighborhoods and tackle abandoned and distressed properties through the Project Rebuild initiative. And, Rebuilding Together has nearly 30 years of experience working to repair homes in low-income communities with private sector partners.
We believe Project Rebuild would help repair the foreclosure damage while getting our economy back on track. We encourage individual citizens and our elected officials to support it.
Colleen Loveless, executive director, Rebuilding Together Springfield Affiliate
Gary Officer, president and CEO Rebuilding Together