Plenty Proud

PORTLAND, OREGON - Proud Ground, a non-profit based in Portland, has been in the homeownership business for 13 years. It has lots to show for it.

Like Kelli Jarrell, a grandmother, who has just bought her first home, a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath, 1600 square foot home in the Mill Park neighborhood of Portland. Kelli is the 150th homeowner Proud Ground has helped to acquire a piece of the American Dream.

She is, explained Proud Ground Executive Director Jesse Beason, "a perfect example of who we serve." She's worked "in the same field for 10 years. She has a steady income. She had a savings plan."

And Kelli most definitely wanted to become a homeowner. "I worked so hard to buy this home because I wanted security for my children. I wanted them to always have a place to live," Jarrell said. Since none of the 149 Proud Ground homeowners who preceded her has experienced foreclosure, there's a darn good chance they will.

[Photo 1: Signing documents at closing]
Signing documents at closing
[Photo 2: The story's subject and her grandkids.] The story's subject and her grandkids.

Her hard work was made a bit easier by the resources Proud Ground brought to the table. Like selling the house at a price less than it cost allowed Proud Ground to acquire and fix it up on the condition that, should Kelli ever re-sell, it would be at a price affordable to another family earning from $30,000 to $35,000 a year who wants to buy their first home. Or the price discount made possible by HUD "sweat equity" funds and Kelli's decision to roll-up her sleeves and do some of the fix-up the house required.

Maybe most important, though, was that the house she bought had been acquired by Proud Ground under HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program. First established by President Bush and expanded twice by President Obama under the Recovery Act has NSP provided significant Federal resources to help local governments address a major problem - the increase in foreclosed, abandoned and blighted homes that occurred during the Great Recession.

"Vacant homes have a debilitating effect on neighborhoods," explained HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, "and often lead to reduced property values, blight, and neighborhood decay." In addition to putting skilled trades people out-of-work because of the Great Recession back on the job, NSP funds enable local governments to buy, rehab and re-sell the properties, turning "eyesores" back into "bright spots."

The pay-off? Reclaiming and re-occupying a vacant, abandoned home puts "eyes on the street," Proud Ground's Beason told KGW-TV. You get "a family that cares about its home, its yard and its neighborhood."

The program's been so successful, in fact, that President Obama is urging the Congress to authorize NSP 4, doubling the funds and enabling even more properties to be reclaimed and hard hit neighborhoods revitalized. To date, communities across Oregon have received almost $34 million under the first three NSP programs. They've rehabbed 340 abandoned or foreclosed homes. Another 220 are planned. Almost all of them will be re-sold to allow folks to become homeowners.

Homeowners like Kelli Jarrell. "Proud Ground helped me keep my eye on the prize. Through working together and with much determination on both sides I have achieved my goal," Kelli said. As mentioned, she's Proud Ground's 150th new homeowner. Thanks to partnerships like the one between Proud Ground and HUD, you can be pretty sure there will be lots more to follow.


Content Archived: April 4, 2014