By Wendy Cole, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
I’ve just returned from the HOPE Awards gala at the spectacular National Building Museum, and boy, do I feel well, hopeful. Surrounded by the golden neo-classical pillars of one of Washington’s most impressive examples of public architecture, five pillars of the affordable housing movement received touching accolades and $10,000 (plus a $1500 Lowe’s gift card) for the brilliant work that they have done to help disenfranchised groups including lower-income minorities and the disabled achieve the dream of homeownership. The industry partnership behind the biannual awards has been going strong since 2001.
Just a few of the achievements from this year’s group of winners:
Korean Churches for Community Development has provided 1700 families with foreclosure assistance in Los Angeles over the past two years; the Illinois Assistive Technology Program has helped 300 disabled people who rely on Social Security income to access grants and other resources that enabled them to buy homes at an affordable cost; and the Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina has created an entertaining yet informative Spanish-language TV program that’s increased awareness about homeownershp as a tool to build wealth. Nuestro Barrio has been seen by 25 million households.
Amidst all of the distressing news about the ill-effects of subprime mortgages and predatory lending, which have hurt minority communties disproportionately, it was heartening to see the spotlight on such noble groups and individuals devoted to closing the minority homeownership gap responsibly. For the winners and the thousands of people served by their ongoing efforts, the HOPE Awards program truly lived up to its name: Home Ownership Participation for Everyone.