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August 2008 Region III News

News and information from HUD's Regional Office serving Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia

John G. Bravacos, Regional Director
(215) 656-0600
August 2008

Regional Director's Note

In the midst of the national housing crisis, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is taking an aggressive approach to helping families keep their homes while helping others to realize their dream of owning a home.

The Federal Housing Administration, FHA, is at the center of HUD's efforts to help families keep and buy safe decent affordable housing. Over the years, FHA has helped more than 35 million Americans buy a home. Now, with rising foreclosure rates, hundreds of thousands of families are turning to FHA to refinance into safer, more affordable mortgage products.

FHASecure has enabled more than 210,000 families to refinance and stay in their homes. By the end of 2008, HUD expects FHASecure to help half a million homeowners. FHASecure complements FHA's strong loss mitigation effort for current customers. Sixty-five percent of FHA borrowers who fall into serious default avoid foreclosure because of it.

Many people can avoid foreclosure, if they consult a HUD approved housing counselor before buying a home. Housing counselors help buyers understand the risks, responsibilities and obligations homeownership and a mortgage impose. Statistics show that 97 percent of those who completed a housing counseling program with a HUD-approved housing counselor avoided foreclosure in 2007.

To find a housing counselor in your area, visit www.hud.gov and click on housing counselor or call (800) 569-4287. To determine if FHA is a viable option, visit www.fha.gov or call (800) CALL-FHA for more information.

While HUD is doing all it can to help Americans preserve their homes and purchase new homes, HUD is also helping communities preserve their historical heritage, helping faith based and community organizations shelter the homeless, providing safe affordable and decent homes and associated services for our seniors and people with disabilities. We share some of the stories of people and families whose lives are transformed with HUD's helping hand and the communities that have been impacted by HUD investment. We salute our partners who help us to make a difference across this great region.

John Bravacos

Preserving America/Preserving Roots

[Photo 1: HUD Employees with Pittsburg Officials]
Pictured right to left: Cheryle E. Campbell, Pittsburgh HUD Field Office Director; David McMunn, Mexican War Streets Society; Bill Peduto, City of Pittsburgh Councilman; Steven Paul, Director of Preservation Pittsburgh; Lynn Scarlett, Deputy Director of the Interior; Noor Ismail, Director of City Planning, City of Pittsburgh; Dan Holland, Director of Young Preservationists; Arthur Ziegler, President of Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Association.

From big cities to small towns across Region III, there's a movement afoot to preserve the places that recall another time in history. Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett came back to her ancestral roots to congratulate Pittsburgh and Ambridge for their efforts to preserve local history and applaud Washington County for receiving a $120,000 heritage tourism grant.

Pittsburgh, Ambridge and Washington County have all been named Preserve America Communities, a special White House designation granted to those areas that preserve history while focusing on economic development and heritage tourism.

The seven Civil War communities of Gettysburg, Carlisle, Chambersburg, Hanover, Harrisburg, Lancaster County and York were also recognized in a regional celebration in Gettysburg in April.

"Sustainable historic preservation is a wise investment in the future, not a cost for maintaining the past. Communities and the nation receive significant economic, educational, and cultural benefits, including heritage tourism, in return for their preservation efforts," said John L. Nau, III, chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, which administers Preserve America programs for the White House in cooperation with the Department of the Interior.

[Photo 2: Preserve America Grant Presented to the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office]
An $80,000 Preserve America grant was presented to the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office to create a living history program with trained costumed interpreters to serve as living history resources to visitors during community events to enhance the education experience.

Once a community is designated as a Preserve America community, it becomes eligible for Preserve America grants. Grants of $20,000 to $150,000 are awarded on a competitive, matching fund basis to help communities develop sustainable management strategies and sound business practices for the continued preservation and use of their heritage assets. The grants support research, planning, marketing, interpretation, and training efforts.

We encourage communities to apply for the designation and to access funding through the Department's Community Development Block Grant program as a vehicle for historic preservation. Currently applications for new communities to receive a Preserve America designation are available at www.achp.gov. Applications for Preserve America Grants are also available at www.npa.gov. For more information about Preserve America and grant opportunities visit: www.preserveameria.gov.

Rich History, Rich Neighbors

[Photo 3: Elijah Miller with Sean Gibson]
Mr. Elijah Miller is joined by Sean Gibson, great-grandson of Gray�s catcher, Josh Gibson, who hit 800 homeruns in 17 seasons.

You don't have to have a lot of money to be rich. Elijah Miller is rich in experience and age. At 101 years of age, he is very proud to be one of the first tenants of Second Baptist Apartments. He is a former batboy for the "Homestead Grays". This team created a cultural phenomenon as it served as one of the nation's first Negro League Baseball teams. It was founded in 1912.

The Homestead Grays were famous for winning 9 pennants in a row. Each morning, Mr. Miller has a wealth of wonderful stories to tell his new neighbors as they chat over a cup of coffee in the community room of their new home at Second Baptist Apartments.

Second Baptist Apartments is a 35 unit, HUD funded Section 202 Elderly Housing Development located in Homestead, PA. To those with a sense of history, Homestead, PA will always and forever be synonymous with the exciting tale of the "Homestead Grays", home-grown athletes and the indelible mark they made as sports legends.

An Extreme Makeover in Delaware

Women arrive at Mary Mother of Hope Houses in Wilmington, Delaware in need of repairing their lives. While shelter is provided, the women are challenged to identify the root causes of their homelessness and to pursue a set of goals leading toward independence and self sufficiency.

[Photo 4: The Latif Family and neighbor "Grandma Rose" Morgan]
The Latif Family and neighbor "Grandma Rose" Morgan

Ju-Juanna Latif experienced a transformation during her brief stay at the Ministry of Caring's Mary Mother of Hope House III several years ago. It was a turning point in her life where she began to take control and make a better life for her and her children. Recently, her story garnered national attention when Extreme Makeover: Home Edition TV host Ty Pennington informed her that she and her neighbor, "Grandma Rose" Morgan would both be the recipients of newly rebuilt homes. Fa�ade restorations were also provided for other low-and moderate income homeowners on her block.

Ms. Latif selected the issue of homelessness to highlight on the national TV program. As a result, two Delaware homeless programs, that received $974,000 in combined HUD Continuum of Care grants for fiscal year 2007, benefited from the TV show's presence in Wilmington. The Ministry of Caring received more than $60,000 worth of products for their clients from CVS Pharmacy and the overflow food provided for volunteer work crews by local restaurants was donated to the organization's Emmanuel Dining Hall that provides free meals to the needy. The YWCA's Home Life I and II Programs also received more than $40,000 worth of toiletries, diapers and other products for their residents. To hear Ms. Latif�s story, view the broadcast at www.andersonextreme.com

Finding a Home That's "Just Right"

[Photo 5: Raquel and Tyrone Murray]

Senior citizens Raquel and Tyrone Murray could not envision a home where they could remain independent and receive minimal assistance. Their son referred them to Catholic Charities Senior Housing in Aberdeen, MD. Service Coordinator Connie Wieland recommended the Murray's move to a Senior Support Services building, part of a Congregate Housing Services Program certified and subsidized by the Maryland Department of Aging. This program offers meals, housekeeping, laundry, personal services and service management to help residents continue living independently.

The Murray's credit the service coordinator, a program funded by HUD to provide associated services for the elderly and disabled, for creating a positive outcome for them. The couple moved to St. Joachim House, Jenkins Campus in Baltimore City's Violetville section. Now, they are happy, independent and together. "This place is made just right for us," said Ms. Murray. They love their ability to travel throughout the Jenkins campus with ease. Getting around is important to this couple who are members of the "Kitchen Band." Residents perform with washboards and spoons at campus events. The Murray's are sure to be at band practice every Tuesday with their kazoos and Ms. Murray's melodious voice.

In December, the couple enrolled in a comprehensive services program for persons otherwise eligible for nursing home. They both were using scooters on a daily basis. Ms. Murray now uses a walker. "I walk! When my son saw me, his jaw dropped. I had been in a wheelchair for years." As Ms. Murray says, they have found a place that is "just right."

Annual Report

Region III's Annual Funding Report for the time period between October 2006 and September 2007 (Fiscal Year 2007) accounts for the $9.2 billion investment in communities throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. The report provides an overview of accomplishments under HUD's strategic goals and accounts for the dollars and cents that strengthen communities and make real the dream of homeownership for thousands of families. Financial statements for program spending across the region and each of the field office jurisdictions are included in the report which can be accessed at http://www.hud.gov/local/pa/news/annualfunding06-07.pdf.

Directory of Federal Homeless Assistance Programs Online

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and six other federal agencies have launched an online resource guide to improve awareness of their homeless programs and services. The guide can be accessed at http://www.hud.gov/local/index.cfm?state=pa&topic=homeless. It is also featured on the websites of the federal partners which include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Social Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Veteran's Affairs, the Department of Labor Women's Bureau, and the Department of Education. Each of the federal agencies outlines their homeless programs and the services they offer and provide additional links to information along with updated agency contact information.

"This web based homeless directory will serve as a resource for federal partners, local government, homeless providers and those seeking homeless assistance to learn what grants and services are available in Region III," said HUD Regional Director John Bravacos.

This collaborative effort was fostered by the Region III Federal Interagency Council on Homelessness. The Council is responsible for providing Federal leadership for activities to assist homeless families and individuals.

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