First Foundation Awards $450,000 to Nonprofits through Its ‘Supporting Our Communities’ Grant Program

By Tyler Resh,

January 20, 2022 07:00 AM Eastern Standard Time

IRVINE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–First Foundation Inc. (NASDAQ: FFWM) (“First Foundation”), a financial services company with two wholly-owned operating subsidiaries, First Foundation Advisors and First Foundation Bank, today announced the recipients of its ‘Supporting Our Communities’ philanthropy initiative.

“The strategic guidance and professional services our employees provide help nonprofits further their programs that we believe will create the types of communities we all hope to live in and take pride in.”

In its ninth year, First Foundation continues to build the legacy of its philanthropy programs through an expanded Supporting Our Communities initiative that includes grants for organizations that are working on the community development pillars of affordable housing, work force development, community service, economic development, and entrepreneurship.

“We are thrilled to continue our ‘Supporting Our Communities’ initiative this year and gain more nonprofit and community partners throughout our regions,” said Scott F. Kavanaugh. “As we grow we always want to stay close to our founding principle of remaining connected to the communities in which we live and serve, and develop meaningful relationships with these wonderful partners who are helping when it matters most.”

The goal of the program is to drive community growth and sustainability in low- and moderate-income communities through small business development, entrepreneurship, access to affordable housing, and financial literacy education.

This year’s list of nonprofit recipients was compiled to include thirty organizations that are focused on causes important to First Foundation. More than half of the grants were selected based on specific programmatic requirements that will fund programs and services in the community.

Read the Full Article Here:

First Foundation Awards $450,000 to Nonprofits through Its ‘Supporting Our Communities’ Grant Program

 


Advocates Push to Save Renters from Evictions - Precinct Reporter Group News

By Dianne Anderson

With the holidays just weeks away, some Inland Empire renters worry that they’re almost out the door under eviction notices from the end of the moratorium on September 30.

But if the renter’s paperwork is in order, the most their landlords can do is huff and puff. They can not evict.

Felicia Brown-Smith said there has been a lot of confusion about the process.

As of October 1, tenants may get a pay or quit notice, but landlords must apply to the California COVID-19 rent relief program before they can evict. She said her organization is seeing more landlords trying to apply regarding the COVID-19 related unpaid rent.

“For lack of a better term – they can harass people – they can give them a pay or quit, but even if they give the notice to pay or quit, they will not be able to legally evict you without first applying to the program,” said Brown-Smith, CEO and Executive Director at Neighborhood Housing Services of the Inland Empire.

And, if landlords try any other unscrupulous moves, like shutting off utilities or blocking access rather than going through the court process, they can also face stiff fines.

NHSIE housing advisors are standing by to assist renters and set up appointments, inform them of their rights, what they qualify for, and go over the documents they need to protect themselves.

They will call back all callers.

Until recently, San Bernardino County was running a program that allowed applications through the county for eviction relief, while others were applying through the state. It was announced last week that everyone now must go through the state to submit applications

“That’s awesome because it’s going to streamline the process and help people not get so confused,” Brown-Smith said.

Rental assistance is available, and NHSIE has been canvassing and setting up tables and booths for community outreach. Both renters and landlords can apply, and their program is partnering with the state.

Last week, she said that her housing counselors were booked full with a big uptick in calls for help.

“There were so many people looking for assistance. I would definitely encourage people to give us a call. If they transportation or health issues, we’ll go into the community to meet with them to ensure they get the help that they need,” she said.

San Bernardino County Fifth District Supervisor Joe Baca Jr. is also encouraging residents to take advantage of the State’s grace period through March 31, 2022, to help avoid evictions.

“I encourage residents throughout the Fifth District communities to apply for renter’s assistance available through various state organizations. The Fifth District has residents who may need such assistance. These resources would help our community prevent an eviction cliff that could have seen thousands of renters out on the street and a complete disruption of California’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

In the meantime, many renters were already pipelined to evictions pre-pandemic, and homelessness may be around the corner.

Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE) is calling on state and local elected leaders to do more to prevent widespread evictions and homelessness.

“Our communities have suffered the highest job loss and COVID infection rates and have experienced an alarming and disproportionate loss of life, as well as being hit hardest by our state’s ongoing housing crisis,” COPE said in a statement.

COPE is partnering with Housing Now CA, a coalition of over 60 organizations, to promote legislation to fight rent increases and unjust evictions.

Felicia Jones, associate director of COPE, said that civic leaders must move on rapid re-housing measures for people now facing eviction, but may not get assistance in time. Resources are available now to get people into affordable housing, but she said it requires political will.

One example is how the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted the Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance, smaller detached units, to workaround housing access issues. Recently, COPE held a rental assistance town hall focused on moving policy ahead by working with city officials and local representatives.

She is concerned for thousands of disproportionately Black and Brown renters that were in the eviction pipeline before the moratorium and is still at risk.

“Those will now move forward. They may have been eligible for rental assistance, but all of this requires landlord cooperation,” she said. “There have been concerns about people’s rights being violated.”

COPE is willing to work with city and county officials to push alternative housing and temporary living solutions, such as ADU’s, as well as reevaluating local zoning to help long-term affordable housing availability, she said.

“We need our civic leaders talking to the community and housing justice advocates in advising those issues. Those solutions can and should come in partnership with the community,” Jones said.

Sonya Gray-Hunn said that when tenants are evicted or pushed out of their housing, the rent caps and controls come off, and rental units soar up to market-rate rent, which also depletes the fair housing supply.

Worse, she said many tenants never received their rent funding to pay their landlords. Renters are supposed to be protected until March 2022, but she finds other serious factors to consider.

“The renters are either not receiving the funds [to pay the rent], or the landlords don’t want to wait on the funds,” said Gray-Hunn, COPE program coordinator. “How do we hold our city and county supervisors accountable to provide a solution?

Some landlords are not accepting the funds, and many low-income renters will not be able to find affordable market-rate housing.

“If a landlord refuses the funding, how do we [prevent] a family from becoming homeless? Where’s the safety net that the city is putting in place for the residents waiting on the allocated funds?” she said.

For local help with rent or evictions, contact NHSIE at https://www.nhsie.org or call (909) 884 6891

For COPE community action, see https://copesite.org

For the statewide application process, visit HousingIsKey.com or call (833) 430-2122.


Rep. Aguilar Announces $777,000 for Inland Empire Housing Services

This grant comes to help families in the Inland Empire during a housing crisis worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rep. Pete Aguilar announced that Neighborhood Housing Services of the Inland Empire (NHSIE) received $273,122 and Neighborhood Partnership Housing Services, Inc. (NPHS) received $504,450 in federal grant funding from NeighborWorks America through its Housing Stability Counseling Program (HSCP). NeighborWorks is a congressionally-chartered and funded nonprofit created to help address affordable housing issues.

“In Congress, one of my top priorities is addressing the affordable housing crisis in the Inland Empire and throughout California. This funding will help homeowners and families access housing counseling and other key resources to make sure more families in our community can achieve and sustain the dream of homeownership,” said Rep. Aguilar.

“We are appreciative of the support of Congressman Aguilar as we continue our work of providing the tools needed to help preserve homeownership and housing stability in the Inland Empire. Now, more than ever, the pandemic and social inequities have highlighted the health and economic challenges faced by many families in our communities. As a HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Agency, we will use this award to support the delivery of housing counseling services for those community members who are facing housing instability due to eviction, default, foreclosure, or loss of income,” said Felicia Brown-Smith, Executive Director/CEO of NHSIE.

“The Housing Stability Counseling Grant will play a critical role in elevating NPHS’ comprehensive foreclosure intervention counseling efforts,” said Clemente Mojica, NPHS CEO. “With thousands of families in our region falling behind on their mortgage due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s unemployment effects, we are doing everything in our power to keep families in their homes and avoid foreclosure.”

Aguilar serves on the House Appropriations Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee, the subcommittee that oversees federal funding for agencies like NeighborWorks.

https://lomalinda.citynewsgroup.com/articles/rep-aguilar-announces-777000-for-inland-empire-housing-services


ICYMI: Aguilar Hosts Roundtable on Emergency Rent Assistance Programs

Press Release

ICYMI: Aguilar Hosts Roundtable on Emergency Rent Assistance Programs
On Wednesday, August 18th, Rep. Pete Aguilar hosted a virtual roundtable meeting with Inland Empire nonprofit partners, local government officials and federal housing experts to provide information on emergency rental assistance programs available to San Bernardino County residents. As part of the American Rescue Plan, Congressional Democrats and the White House secured over $21 billion in direct rent and utility assistance funding to be distributed by state and local governments. Wednesday’s roundtable focused on providing residents with the information needed to access these funds.

Watch video here!


SCAG Announces Grant Awards to Promote Affordable Housing and Equitable Growth Strategies

PRESS RELEASE 

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) announced grant awards totaling $1.25 million to 15 nonprofits and community-based organizations to promote equitable growth strategies.

SCAG is dedicating $1 million of Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) grant funds toward the program, with additional funding from the California Community Foundation (CCF), the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Irvine Foundation.

The Call for Collaboration program is part of SCAG’s ongoing commitment to combat racism, social injustice and an equity gap that has reached historic levels.

Read the full PRESS RELEASE: SCAG Announced Grant Awards


Questions to Ask Your Realtor When Shopping for a Home

Searching for, locating, and purchasing a new home can be a very rewarding and exciting process. However, at times the process can also be equally stressful. To curb some of this stress you will want to team up with and utilize a professional realtor. This realtor will not only help you navigate the different steps of purchasing your desired home, but professional realtors are also a great resource to field questions and elevate concerns. During the home shopping process, there are several questions you should make sure to ask your realtor. The most vital of these questions are explored in more detail below.

DO YOU KNOW OF A TRUSTED REALTOR?

No, this isn’t a question to ask your realtor once you have begun the home buying process, but it is a question you can ask your friends and family. Likely someone in your inner circle is either close friends with a realtor or has previously worked alongside a realtor to close on a home.

Start by calling and conducting a small interview on any recommended realtors asking them how long they have been a licensed realtor, how many transactions they do a year, and what cities or communities do they know well. It is recommended to interview three different realtors and then move forward with the realtor who works best for you and your family.

It can be a stressful journey so you want to work with professionals who are knowledgeable, trustworthy, and communicate well.  If your friends and family are recommending a particular realtor then you will most likely trust them more than someone you found by default.

WHY IS THE OWNER SELLING THE PROPERTY?

This is an important question to ask your realtor because their answer can reveal if there are any immediate problems facing the home. Is the owner selling because they are taking a new job elsewhere, or are they simply looking to get rid of the property? Once you realize the owner’s motivations, you may be able to better determine if the property will be a good suit for you and your needs. While asking your realtor this question, you may also want to ask about the seller’s length of residency on the property.

WHAT IS THE PROPERTY WORTH & IS THE LISTING PRICE FIRM?

Asking your realtor about the price of a property and its overall worth may at first seem blunt or rude. However, your realtor is there for you to utilize, and since they will most likely have extended knowledge about other properties in the area they can give you a solid estimate of the property’s value. Make sure to ask your realtor about the ‘high’ and ‘low’ end of property values in the surrounding neighborhood. Using these comparables you will be able to make an educated offer on the property. Asking if a seller is willing to negotiate is also a good way to judge how much room you have to work within your offer.

HOW OFTEN HAS THE PROPERTY SOLD IN THE PAST?

If a home has frequently passed from owner to owner in the past this may be a sign that there are major problems with the home. These problems could relate to the actual home, the location, or your potential new neighbors. If your agent reveals that your potential home has sold multiple times in the past few years, you should ask them why they believe this is the case. Asking your agent, how long the home has been on the market is also another way to gauge if there are any major problems with the home and the overall demand for homes in the area.

HOW MUCH ARE THE PROPERTY TAXES ON THE HOME?

Knowing the actual price of your mortgage and if you can qualify for a loan is one thing. But, as you get closer and more serious about purchasing a property you will most likely also want to know about any additional costs you will face. Property taxes and utility bills are common expenses your realtor should be able to assist you with estimating. You will also want to anticipate the various homeowner association fees and any special circumstances such as mello-roos or other special taxes. Your realtor should also be able to assist you with estimating major repairs that may need to be completed on the property. For example, the property’s slate tile roof life expectancy.

HAS THE SELLER RECENTLY COMPLETED WORK ON THE PROPERTY

Asking your realtor this question will allow you to evaluate just how great the seller was at keeping up with the property. Was a lot of work done right before putting the house on the market? Or has the owner always kept up with the home and its various components? The repairs your real estate agent is familiar with could be anything from the installation of new garage door trim to the removal of harmful pests from the property.

ENJOY HOME SHOPPING!

When home shopping, it is important to remember that your real estate agent is there to help you. They are the best source for fielding questions you may have about the property, its history, and its seller. Receiving answers to these questions will allow you to better evaluate the property and your desire to move forward with the home buying process.

Skylar Ross is a contributor to the Innovative Materials blog. He is a content writer for the construction and home improvement industries with an interest in landscaping, outdoor remodeling, and interior design. Skylar is focused on educating homeowners, contractors, and architects on innovative materials and methods of construction that increase property value, improve sustainability, and create a warm and welcoming ambiance.


Eat, Drink, & Spend—It's Not Helping


Help For Low to Moderate Income Homebuyers

 

By Dianne Anderson

In these tight money times, two of the biggest hurdles for first-time homebuyers are qualifying for financing, and getting enough money to start the home-buying process.

Felicia Brown-Smith said the local Neighborhood Housing Services of the Inland Empire (NHSIE) helps with both.

Their nonprofit is paving the way to close the wealth gap by leading their first-time homebuyers through a plethora of programs and resources.

She said they want to push for more affordable housing to support the local workforce.

“These are people who are working who have a family, but not able to afford a home, they need some assistance to get in. Those may be 80-120% of the area’s median income. We want to have the opportunity to make sure they have what they need,” said Felicia Brown-Smith, Executive Director and CEO of NHSIE.

Felicia Brown-Smith, Executive Director and CEO of NHSIE.

NHSIE provides $10,000 for down payment assistance or closing costs, first mortgage loans, assists with helping clients find a property, and provides the financial education they need to be a successful homeowner.

And getting around the greed factor behind the lack of affordable housing requires vision.

In the past several years, Brown-Smith has watched investors come into the community and buy up properties to cut big profits. Those properties are then converted into rentals with rent pumped up to the highest point that they can get.

“It perpetuates the cycle for lower-income residents mostly in communities of color, and they’re being pushed out,” she said. “NHSIE wants to make sure they have wealth-building opportunities for their families and wealth for future generations in a home that they can call their own.”

It’s also not unusual for the community to pay over half of their income on rent, but owning a starter home is often less expensive than renting. She said their organization works closely with new homebuyers to learn how to sustain what is considered for many the biggest investment of a lifetime.

“We value financial education at NHSIE because we want our community members to succeed in homeownership,” she said. “We have realty and lending, we provide financial fitness classes.”

Brown-Smith moved into her new position at NHSIE within one of the hardest economic times in history. The current tight housing supply means affordable inventory is scarce, as well as a lack of resources and finances.

“There are disparities in the communities that we serve and around the COVID pandemic that all have to be addressed. I believe we’ll come out of this. I’m optimistic despite some of the challenges that I’m seeing in the market,” she said.

Brown-Smith also educates policymakers, legislators, and the federal level about the need to develop local affordable housing solutions.

She said that financing choices are available for low to moderate-income buyers and communities of color to get innovative affordable housing opportunities. Some buyers may be able to access affordable housing alternatives, like lower-cost standalone manufactured homes.

At this time renters cannot be evicted, which is good, but she said mom and pop landlords are taking the hit. Many are unable to pay their mortgages while their renters are not paying some or all of their rent.

NHSIE is also looking to work with those landlords as well. They may want to sell their properties and move on to another investment, and in turn, NHSIE could purchase the properties to sell back to the community at an affordable price.

“Building is still going on, but it’s not an affordable price point. We would aim to work with mom and pop landlords if they wanted to sell, we would explore potentially purchasing that property,” she said.

Overall, for communities of color, she feels housing remains one of the best wealth-building tools around.

“It is the best way to escape some of the societal ills, whether that’s poverty, or not living in safe communities, or have great schools, it’s often how people are able to move up (after resale),” she said.

Program support comes from recent grant funding, $394,500 from NeighborWorks America, which will help boost efforts to create innovative affordable housing opportunities for low and moderate-income neighborhoods. Recently announced by Rep. Pete Aguilar, the funding is part of a $680,000 award, with $295,000 also allocated to Neighborhood Partnership Housing Services, Inc. to support affordable housing programs in the Inland Empire.

“Our nonprofit partners like NPHS and NHSIE play huge roles in making sure San Bernardino County families have access to the affordable housing and community resources they need to succeed. I’m proud to support these types of federal funding initiatives to make sure organizations like these can continue to offer these programs,” said Aguilar.

For more information, see https://www.nhsie.org


Aguilar Announces Over $680,000 for Inland Empire Affordable Housing Programs

March 9, 2021 Press Release

Rep. Pete Aguilar announced that Neighborhood Partnership Housing Services, Inc. (NPHS) has received a $295,000 grant and Neighborhood Housing Services of the Inland Empire (NHSIE) has received a grant of $394,500 from NeighborWorks America, a congressionally-chartered nonprofit organization. NPHS and NHSIE are local nonprofit organizations that work to help San Bernardino County residents access affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization projects, community wealth-building initiatives and services for small businesses.


California's Housing Future: Challenges and Opportunities Public Draft


Governor Jerry Brown today released his proposed Budget Summary for 2017-18 which includes the Governor's goals and objectives for the forthcoming year and highlights significant issues, policies, and initiatives.

This proposed Budget confirms the Governor's resolve to work with the Legislature to address the state's housing shortage and affordability pressures. The ideas in the Governor's Budget align and build from the framework adopted in HCD's just-released 2025 Statewide Housing Assessment and include five key principles to be incorporated into a housing package.

 

 

 

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