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A Year of Being NeighborGood Partners

Karen Speakman | Executive Director, NeighborGood Partners



A year has passed since we started our journey of transitioning from NCALL to NeighborGood Partners. As NCALL, we built an incredible platform from which we launched NeighborGood Partners, and we have really leaned into being Good Neighbors and Good Partners. Additionally, our new colorful logo matches the depth and vibrancy of the housing and community development services we provide. And in recognition of that, our new brand received the 2023 Fundraising and Communications Excellence Awards for Branding from the Association of Fundraising Professionals!




This year brought about several opportunities and additions as we wrestled with the affordable housing crisis, which has been exacerbated by inflation and increasing interest rates. The Delmarva Peninsula, like the rest of the country, is experiencing high

housing costs and values, increasing rents, limited affordable housing stock, and more households seeking stable housing. We educated and spoke with both US and Delaware Senators and Representatives about the housing crisis and the need for substantial funding to meet the demand for more units of affordable housing. Our services increased to include a Rent Reporting Pilot, where renters can build their credit by reporting their payments for rent, cell phone, and utilities to the credit bureaus. Our partners in this pilot are the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) and Self Financial, Inc. and our part includes enrolling and engaging with participants who utilize a terrific app from Self Financial to report their rent and other payments. We also partnered with DSHA on their Housing Outreach & Stability Services program after the COVID-related financial assistance for rental housing ended. Through this program, we provide community outreach, case management, and other wraparound support including referrals to legal aid, employment or education resources, and financial literacy and housing counseling to eligible households experiencing housing instability.




This year also included the renewal of our five-year contract with USDA Rural Development for our Northeast Regional Self-Help Housing Technical and Management Assistance; we assist nonprofit organizations in operating a program where families build their own houses with staff guidance and oversight. We opened The Scoop on Loockerman, an ice cream shop and social enterprise in Dover that provides workforce development skills to area at risk youth. This was made possible through a partnership with Project Safe Neighborhoods and the Delaware U. S. Attorney’s office.



Internally, we transitioned bank accounts, became incorporated in Delaware, and retained our nonprofit 501 C 3 status. We conducted a compensation study, implemented a compensation philosophy, and organized a Board Assessment. We also grew -- our staff increased from a staff of 40 to 45 employees including two new Team Managers, a Rental Reporting Specialist, a Community Land Trust Manager, and two part-time employees becoming full-time employees. Our budget has grown from $5.4 million in 2022 to $6.5 million for 2024.


Looking forward to 2024 -- the next year holds much promise for NeighborGood Partners as we continue to move from transactional endeavors to transformational endeavors by collaborating with our numerous partners. We project increasing our staff to forty-eight employees and we look forward to the opportunities that arise due to our partnerships.


Construction is starting on our new building in downtown Dover, which will house our community development staff and a small business incubator and shared space for Dover area entrepreneurs run by our partner, Delaware State University. For future affordable housing development, we will be purchasing sites and undertaking development with ARPA funds awarded by the Governor’s office to us for affordable housing land banking and rental housing for poultry workers. Our Loan Fund and Real Estate Development Teams will coordinate their efforts to further ensure the recognition of the Community Land Trust model as permanently affordable housing and offering their services to nonprofit partners. Furthermore, we will be constructing four Passive-designed (extremely energy efficient) houses, with the assistance of Energize Delaware and New Ecology. Advocacy and education will continue until this country realizes that it is essential that we provide more truly affordable housing for all. True to our past and present, we will continue to provide the excellent quality of housing counseling, financial coaching, lending, and housing development services for which we are known.

 

Thank you for embracing this journey with us—

To learn more about our services, please continue to navigate our website and follow us on FB, IG, and LinkedIn.


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