Investing in Local Affordable Housing and Energy Efficiency Upgrades

We tend to think that there are three ways we can make a difference in our communities:  volunteer, engage in activism, and make charitable contributions. There is a fourth way:  social impact investment. Community organizations through which one makes investments in underserved markets are known as Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). And the principal CDFI in Connecticut, a recent coming together of CDFIs in New Haven, Bridgeport, and Hartford, is called Capital for Change.

Capital for Change lends money to Connecticut businesses for affordable housing and for the introduction of energy efficiency upgrades to multi-family dwellings.  With horrific incidents occurring all around the world, such as in London and Honolulu, it is evident that many older buildings that house lower-income families not only lack energy efficiency features, but do not even meet current safety codes. Those who invest through Capital for Change help address these problems.

Social impact investments do good while providing an income stream to the investor. An investor with Captial for Change can, however, choose to receive no interest or a rate lower than the maximum for the length of the investment. Choosing a lower rate is effectively a contribution to the organization.

Capital for Change is seeking investments of as little as $1,000 from individuals and from foundations, faith-based organizations, and other entities. It pays interest annually for these investments, with longer-term investments receiving more favorable interest rates. They are as follows:

1 to 2 year investments: 0 to 2.5%

3 to 7 year investments: 0 to 3.0%

7 to 10 year investments: 0 to 3.5%

10 plus years: 0 to 4%

Two VISTA Positions Open at Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven

The first things to know about Americorps’ VISTA program is that there is no upper age limit on participation, and that work is full-time with a stipend of $560 a week, plus other benefits. Thus, a VISTA job can be filled just as easily by a retired or mostly-retired individual as by a young adult. The principal difference is that an older person will have a lifetime of experience to bring to the work.

Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven (NHS) is an almost 40-year-old nonprofit that seeks to revitalize selected neighborhoods by increasing homeownership; making homes beautiful, energy-efficient, and affordable; and helping residents take charge of their neighborhoods. It not only fixes up houses for sale, but also provides comprehensive pre- and post-purchase homebuyer/homeowner education classes, financial fitness workshops, and credit counseling to low- and moderate-income residents of the Greater New Haven area.

One of the two NHS positions involves community engagement, that is, outreach, working to engage past graduates of the NHS Resident Leadership Program, improvement of volunteer recruitment and retention, and investigating and addressing the intersection of energy conversation and crime prevention through environmental design.

The other position relates to the new NHS Environmental Leadership Program. It includes training NHS staff on environmental issues and resources, and researching residents’ energy use behavior to be able to better understand their needs and inform the NHS energy conservation curriculum. If you’d like to participate in this program, which starts this week, click on the second link in this paragraph.

For more info about these positions, each of which lasts a year and begins on August 28, see this NHS webpage.



Fair Housing Act Accessibility Policy Training on Thursday in New Haven

Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST is an initiative designed to promote compliance with the Fair Housing Act design and construction requirements.

The program, being held FREE at The Study at Yale, 1157 Chapel St. in New Haven on Thursday, March 30, 8-4:15, provides the information that disability and housing advocates, as well as those who must comply with the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility requirements, need to do their jobs effectively.

The training is sponsored by the federal Dept. of Housing and Urban Development along with New Haven’s own Neighborhood Housing Services. Registration is necessary.

Who Should Attend?
* Anyone with an interest in the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act
* Attorneys
* Architects and Designers
* Civil Engineers and Landscape Architects
* Contractors
* Developers and Builders
* Disability and Housing Advocates
* Enforcement Officials
* Housing Consumers
* Property Owners and Managers