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NeighborWorks welcomes people home

Foundation grants help to provide affordable housing and break the cycle of poverty

NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire helps people get into affordable, safe housing — and to better manage their resources, achieve greater economic security and break the cycle of poverty.

NeighborWorks (formerly Manchester Neighborhood Housing Services) has had a deep effect in neighborhoods that it has helped to develop and revitalize.

In Manchester’s West Granite neighborhood, the organization bought multi-family homes that had been in foreclosure, razed one that had been a drug house, created green space and off-street parking. NeighborWorks created 30 refurbished affordable housing units, and increased home ownership and investment in the area, selling refurbished homes to owner-occupants.

“Neighborhood revitalization is about having people watch that transformation in their own neighborhood, and build that sense of pride,” NeighborWorks Executive Director Robert Tourigny said.

NeighborWorks organized residents to conduct surveys about neighborhood improvement, and had block parties so people could meet their neighbors.

“It’s the most rewarding thing in the world,” Tourigny said, “to be able to find that building, pull together the players to make it happen and get a family to be safe and have something they can afford.”

Jim Rea, a firefighter, and his wife Cheri, who is a nurse, recently purchased their home from NeighborWorks.

“I am now officially a first-time homeowner thanks to the NeighborWorks program,” Rea said.

NeighborWorks refurbished their home and made it available at a price they could afford; they got FHA financing and had a down payment of just one percent.

“We learned that NeighborWorks acquires older properties in the area, strips them down to the studs and rebuilds them with all new materials,” Rea said. “Anyone familiar with the west side of Manchester knows that ‘new construction’ is very hard to find.  Equally-priced homes are run down and require a lot of work up front.”

The Reas’ home was completely refurbished — converted back to a single-family from a duplex, with new heating system, appliances, windows, roof and siding.

“I met with several neighbors who had followed the progress of the home throughout it’s rehab process,” Rea said. “They were all very impressed with the job they did.

“The home is now one of the most beautiful homes in the neighborhood.”

Over 20 years, NeighborWorks has created or developed more than 400 affordable housing units in southern New Hampshire.

The Foundation has supported NeighborWorks with grants dating back more than a decade.

NeighborWorks has proved agile in the face of changing needs, and in creating partnerships with other organizations.

A 2011 grant provided seed money as NeighborWorks partnered with CATCH Neighborhood Housing to create HOMEteam, which provides homebuyer education, coaching, and foreclosure prevention services.

The Reas did their home-buyer education through CATCH.

“What I appreciate most about the Charitable Foundation is that it’s not necessarily just about ‘keeping the lights on,’” Tourigny said. “But helping us to do that new and innovative and creative thing that has really led to the success that we have had over the years.”

When a parallel organization in Nashua closed its doors, NeighborWorks widened it service area to include Nashua, an expansion which the Foundation also supported.

NeighborWorks is also developing workforce housing in communities where such housing is currently lacking. It has developed 25 units in Goffstown and will soon break ground on a 78-unit project in Londonderry.

“NeighborWorks has a solid foundation under it so that it can really respond to needs in the community,” said Foundation Senior Program Officer Anne Phillips.

The ultimate goal, Tourigny said: “To strengthen neighborhoods and improve the quality of life in neighborhoods and for families.”

To hear from some more of the people whom NeighborWorks has helped, visit: http://www.nwsnh.org/about/success_stories