Author Archive | Jonathan Young

Unlocking Doors Video

Produced by CEF for the Unlocking Doors Initiative and the 2017 Mayor’s Landlord Roundtable.

The Unlocking Doors Initiative is a partnership between landlords, non-profits, the City and the Durham Housing Authority. With visionary new leadership at the DHA and a groundswell of community support, we are at a crucial juncture in Durham. Mayor Bill Bell has issued a challenge for us to lease up individuals and families, including veterans, to permanently end their homelessness. Landlords and non-profits, will you consider joining us as a Key Partner?

Learn more at unlockingdoorsdurham.org

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Mayor’s Landlord Roundtable 2017

Contact: Janet Xiao
Tel: 919-797-9233
Email: janetx@communityef.org

Contact: Grace Mok
Tel: 516-499-0393
Email: gracem@communityef.org

MAYOR BILL BELL TO HOST THE 2017 MAYOR’S LANDLORD ROUNDTABLE

A community gathering regarding housing vouchers and affordable housing

Mayor Bill Bell will convene the 2017 Mayor’s Landlord Roundtable—the second annual gathering of landlords, Durham Housing Authority (DHA) leadership, non-profits and community members—to continue a discussion about housing vouchers and affordable housing in Durham.

The Roundtable will take place on July 11 from 10:00am to 11:30am at the Temple Building in downtown Durham. The event is organized by the Unlocking Doors Initiative—a partnership working toward affordable housing in Durham—and will be open to the public. An RSVP is preferred but not required. Over 130 people attended last year, including 48 landlords and property management companies and representatives from over 50 organizations.

A roundtable conversation with landlords and property managers on how the private sector can engage in affordable housing efforts will be the focal point of the event. After a short welcome from Mayor Bell, the Durham Housing Authority CEO Anthony Scott will provide an update on their progress since the 2016 Roundtable. The Unlocking Doors Initiative will also provide opportunities for landlords to create affordable housing partnerships with area nonprofit organizations.

The event will also be an opportunity for community members to learn about and show support for Housing Choice Vouchers. Previously known as Section 8 Vouchers, the program is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD describes the program as “the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market.” Vouchers are considered a tool to end homelessness and increase affordable housing opportunities.

The Roundtable takes place as Bell enters the end of his tenure as Durham’s mayor. It also takes place soon after the City awarded a $4 million grant to DHA to repurchase Fayette Place and after the Durham City Council approved an increase to the City’s dedicated housing fund. City Council and the four mayoral candidates Farad Ali, Pierce Freelon, Kershemia “Shea” Ramirez and Steve Schewel have received personal invitations to the event.

About the Unlocking Doors Initiative

The Unlocking Doors Initiative is a partnership initiative between local landlords and property managers, the Durham Housing Authority, and area non-profits. A main goal of the initiative is to increase landlord partnerships with tenants who are returning to permanent housing after a period of homelessness, using housing vouchers as a tool.
To learn more, visit www.unlockingdoorsdurham.org or email us at info@unlockingdoorsdurham.org.

Photographs from the 2016 Landlord Roundtable

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Healthcare Navigators at CEF

In partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina, CEF hosted Healthcare Navigators in both our Durham office and CEF’s Orange Community Hub weekly in order to assess insurance options through the Healthcare Marketplace and provide targeted support in enrollment for CEF Members.

During the pilot of this partnership (open enrollment for 2017), 52 households were served, with 22 obtaining health insurance directly through the Marketplace and 12 choosing alternative insurance options. Meanwhile, 18 of the households filed hardship exemptions as they could not afford health insurance due in part to the state legislature of North Carolina choosing not to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act.

Affordable health insurance plays a key role in the financial stability of CEF’s Members by increasing access to preventive medicine and prescriptions, and by protecting gains in savings, credit, and well-being which could all be lost due to a medical emergency without insurance. CEF is grateful for the partnership of this amazing team of Healthcare Navigators, and proud that the results of our collaboration increased access to this critical resource for CEF Members!

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Annual Report 2016 : Transformative Community

“We share these stories, and are reminded just how profound it is to be a part CEF. We share them with gratitude for the whole wide CEF family—Members, Advocates, supporters, and friends. Thank you for reading, writing, and living this story with us!”

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Financial Independence Day 2017

The CEF Community is proud to announce the 6th annual Financial Independence Day on Saturday July 8th at Umstead Park in Chapel Hill. Join us as we celebrate member savings, accomplishments and financial freedom!

Things to get excited about

  • Performances by the infamous CEF Advocacy Choir
  • The Safe Savings raffle with prizes
  • Live entertainment and a showcasing of community talents
  • Arts and crafts and other fun activities for children

Things to know:

  • Carpools are available (make sure to RSVP)
  • Bringing a side dish if you want to share!
  • Bring a chair or a picnic blanket to share if you have extra!
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CEF First-Time Homebuyers!

“I was able to pay off over $5,000 in credit card debt, raised my credit score almost 80 points, maintain a safety net savings account and purchase my first home! Thank you all for your support!”

CEF matched savings accounts now support Members in reaching goals all along the continuum from homelessness to homeownership. We launched a new program in 2016 to support first-time homebuyers with Reinvestment Partners and the Duke Homebuyers Club.

Paige was one of the first 5 CEF Members to successfully purchase their own home during the first year of this collaborative program!

Paige worked incredibly hard and with amazing focus to reach her goal in just ten months. She worked extra jobs in addition to her full-time job at Duke. She participated in CEF’s Financial Coaching, meeting regularly with Donna Carrington (CEF’s Housing Stabilization Specialist) and sharing, “Donna was a great motivator and kept me on track with my financial goals.” Paige was able to pay off debts and improve her credit score, which qualified her for an affordable mortgage. Meanwhile, she successfully saved for her down payment and closing costs, receiving a dollar-for-dollar match from CEF!

Paige is proud to be a homeowner. One of the best parts? Her mortgage payment is actually cheaper than her rent payments were, and she is building an asset for the long term.

CEF is supporting this pilot program for first-time homebuyers in Durham in collaboration with Reinvestment Partners, the Duke Homebuyers Club, and the Duke University Office of Durham & Regional Affairs. The Homebuyers Club partnership brings together incredible resources for the participants, including homebuyer education and credit assessment through Reinvestment Partners, and a wide array of community experts through Duke’s partnerships, including attorneys, appraisers, and credit unions.

Meanwhile, CEF provides our one-on-one financial coaching so that participants like Paige can take action steps in building credit, budgeting to reach their goals, and accessing resources. In just the first year of this pilot collaboration, we have seen amazing results.

Since the Homebuyers Savings program began, results from April 2016 – April 2017 include:

  • Pilot participants have built $16,864 in savings towards the purchase of their first homes.
  • 5 of the first 9 members have already bought their homes, with the remaining participants well on their way towards achieving their goal within the 18-month pilot period!
  • Members are saving on average $144 each per month
  • 67 one-on-one coaching sessions completed with members in 1 year
  • 85% of program participants are women
  • 100% of program participants are people of color
  • Thus far, mortgage payments for these homebuyers are less expensive than their monthly rent payments were previously.
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CEF’s TED Talk: Homeless, and Outsaving Half of the United States

Presented at the 2017 TEDxUNC event at Memorial Hall: CEF’s Co-Founders / Co-Directors sharing the transformative story of a group of college students and shelter residents who built a community organization and financial tools that support sustained transitions out of homelessness. The CEF Advocacy Choir sings to close out the talk, with an original song about the joy of finding a home after experiencing homelessness.

photographs by TEDxUNC

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Using Behavioral Economics to Explore the Transition to Housing

Thank you to the over 70 participants from partner agencies that attended the workshop CEF co-hosted with the Common Cents Lab focused on “Using Behavioral Economics to Explore the Transition to Housing.”

Together, we brainstormed about how behavioral economics might help nonprofits think creatively about building better programs and smarter solutions to support individuals moving out of homelessness. The incredible team at the Common Cents Lab shared an introduction to the principles of behavioral economics, and led the group through an interactive workshop to put those principles into action for better program design.

Behavioral economics is “the study of how people really make choices–not in a simplified economic model, but in the textured and rich reality of daily life, and draws on insight from both psychology and economics” (CFED).

CEF is working with the Common Cent Labs this year to apply these learnings to our partnerships with shelters to promote increased engagement with CEF’s matched savings accounts in a way that supports Members in achieving short-term savings goals and builds longer-term saving habits. Through our last joint project with the team, we implemented a new way for Members to track progress towards their savings goals through a punchcard and tested its efficacy through a randomized control trial. Every time Members in the trial group made a deposit, they received a punch, and received gold tokens and new levels of punchcards after each card was filled. An article is soon to be published by the research documenting the promising results of this study… Just for a preview: “Members who received the punchcard to track their deposits completed 30% more of their goal than members who were in the control condition” (Guzman and Tepper, full article to be published late spring 2017).

Indiana received the very first punch on a CEF Savings Card! This piggy- themed punch card developed with Common Cents Lab, tracks each deposit and captures progress towards her goals!

We are excited to continue learning throughout this year with the team at the Common Cents Lab! Since the workshop, partners have shared that they are still really thinking about how behavioral economic analysis such as “tunneling” or “friction costs” can be addressed in their own work. Building on the incredible momentum of bringing 70 of our partners into the room together to explore these concepts, we got feedback from participants on where to go from here in our collaborative learning, and will be exploring other topics in the months to come — such as “Manage Cash Flow after Housing Transitions,” and “Overcome Barriers to Banking.

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CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

Chapel Hill: 919-200-0233 Durham: 919-797-9233

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