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Archives for Founder's Corner

Gratitude and Passion

By Doug Harsany

leaves

Fall is the season for brightly colored leaves, counting our blessings, and conferences. The leaves in our area have seemed a little late in turning this year, maybe due to some unseasonably warm weather. At this writing, they are now nearing their peak. I still find myself in awe at their grandeur.

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HOME Strategies in Small Communities: Big Impact with Little Funding

by Amy Sackman Odum (Director of Community Development, City of Lima Ohio), Guest Contributor

limatrust What can you do with $257,989 in housing funds? In most Ohio markets, it may buy a comfortable home.  In Lima, Ohio, it runs an entire housing program! The City of Lima is the third smallest HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) entitlement community in Ohio. Yet, Lima is attracting attention with the announcement of a 15 million-dollar historic bank building renovation, which will produce 47 apartments and 3 floors of office and retail.  Ten of the apartment units will be market rate. This project is in addition to running a popular housing down payment assistance program and providing home repair loans. How can so little funding produce so much? Several strategies are needed for big results, and to make local needs mesh with limited resources and daunting regulatory requirements.

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Keeping Your Family and Neighborhood Healthy in Winter

By Cindy Harsany

Fall is wonderful! the leaves change colors in most of the states, we still have warm breezes, and we get to play outside.  This creates a relaxing entrance to winter. We can almost come to believe that maybe we won’t experience cold, snow, a fall on the ice, or the need to dig our car out of a ditch.

However, fall will transition as temperatures decrease, bringing with it winter. Winter officially begins on Wednesday, December 21st and the 2017 Farmers’ Almanac has released this prediction, “Get ready for a shift from last year!  For the winter of 2016–2017, we expect temperatures to be much colder than last winter but still above normal. Winter 2017 will also feature below-normal snowfall overall; the snowy exception is the northern tier of the U.S., which can expect to be blanketed in white.”

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Land Banking 101

By Doug Harsany

This article is written to both those operating, or considering the operation of, a land bank, and to anyone interested in community revitalization. For the purposes of this article, a land bank is an organization created to address the challenges associated with vacant and abandoned property within set jurisdictional boundaries. These properties are typically tax foreclosed and are transferred by the government entity to the land bank with clear title. A land bank seeks to manage and maintain these properties with the end goal of returning the properties to productive reuse.

In addition to the legal structures required to make a land bank operational and to acquire properties with clear title, which vary from state to state, there are a number of challenges that land banks often need to address. In this article, we will attempt to introduce important components of five common, but demanding, tasks that land banks often face. We will also seek to provide some basic insight into the successful execution of these tasks.

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Reflections on Life and Work

Ok, I admit it. I tend to be a workaholic. As such, I often have a difficult time finding balance in my life. However, over the past six months, my wife and I have made a conscious and deliberate effort to inject some other important elements into our lives. For example, we have been exercising more faithfully, spending more talk time together, and taking more time for reflection and prayer. Of course, all of this takes a sizable chunk out of our day.

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Paint the Town Green: A Practical Approach to “Green” Downtown Development

By Crystal Stitzer and Doug Harsany

The term “green” is so overused in today’s society that it almost defines cliché. Today it seems that every organization wants to be and claims to be green. In many cases the rhetoric goes farther than the reality. A lot of things are marketed as green, but many may not really be as environmentally friendly as proposed.
At the time of the Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010, British Petroleum’s mission statement read, “We help the world meet its growing need for heat, light and mobility. We strive to do that by producing energy that is affordable, secure and doesn’t damage the environment.” It all sounds so idyllic, like cows eating grass. Even the company’s logo is designed to make a green statement. It has the bright yellow sun shining in the middle, surrounded by a ring of green leaves, like a big sunflower. According to the February 2015 BP Gulf Recovery Factsheet, BP has spent approximately $28 billion on response, cleanup, early restoration, and claims payments. There were 1,096 miles of shoreline that had some oiling, and 776 of those miles required some measure of cleaning. We are not trying to vilify BP, but what they found out is what Kermit the frog told us long ago. “It’s not easy being green” (The Jim Henson Company Muppet Character)!

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“Deconstructing” the building blocks of Country Club Townhomes: Collaboration, Creative financing, Patience and Perseverance

By Geri Campos Lopez (HCED Consulting, LLC), Guest Contributor

Country Club Townhomes, a 31-unit mixed income community, was constructed amidst incredible challenges during the Great recession. Yet with strong collaborators, creative financing, patience, and perseverance, this project was able to bring high quality homeownership construction and design to a blighted neighborhood. This project also infused a public and private investment of $6.5 million as a booster shot to the local economy when it was most needed. This article will “deconstruct” the elements that contributed to the success of this catalytic project, and detail lessons learned which may apply to your community.

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A Nation Divided

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by Doug Harsany

As I approach this Holiday weekend, my thoughts turn to the many soldiers who have bought at a dear price our freedom in this country. I am also reminded of the fact that this Holiday began in the aftermath of the Civil war. More American blood was shed in this war than at any time since. It was shed at our own hands, because of deep divisions among us.

Our country is becoming once more deeply divided…

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Is Scattered Site Rental Development a Good Strategy for You?

By Doug Harsany

Scattered site rental development is considered to be one of the most difficult housing strategies to implement successfully. Why is it so difficult to execute effectively? Why are some organizations successfully producing and managing scattered site units despite this difficulty? Is scattered site rental development (SSR), which is the development and management of individual single family homes at various addresses dispersed across a community, a viable alternative for you? In the paragraphs to follow, I will outline a few of the more prominent challenges associated with SSR and provide circumstances that could position your organization to effectively maneuver through the difficulty described. I will also explain why this housing strategy may be a good fit for some organizations.

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Life Changes!

By Doug Harsany

Over the past three years, my life has changed dramatically. My youngest daughter got married and left home for Boston, where she is studying to become an Optometrist. My wife and I became empty nesters. However, that was short lived. Within months, my oldest daughter became divorced, and came home to live with us, bringing along her infant daughter. As humans we learn to adapt. Though there are certainly challenges to living with three generations under one roof, there are also rewards. I benefit from this great opportunity to know my granddaughter, in ways that I could not if she didn’t live with me. I am also discovering, in ways that I did not before, the beautiful young woman that my daughter has become.

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How to Prepare a Disaster Kit for Your Home

By Doug Harsany

As we get into what is a stormy season in much of the United States, it is a logical time to think about our disaster preparedness. In addition to other preparedness guidance about evacuation routes, shelter locations, and the like, it is often suggested to have a disaster kit in your home (a similar kit may be useful in your car and office). Here are a few suggestions for what to put into such a kit.

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Greater Challenges, Fewer Resources

By Doug Harsany

man-briefcase-chasmIt seems that the needs in our communities continue to grow, even as our means of addressing those needs is diminished. We need to shift our thinking in order to reach beyond the traditional methods of doing business. Early in the recent recession here in the United States, the federal government recognized that we were facing a crisis that demanded additional resources for housing and community development. Programs like The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 were created to address this crisis. Those resources are now largely gone, but many challenges still face our states and communities, including a scarcity of decent affordable housing, a surplus of abandoned buildings, a crumbling infrastructure, and a shortage of good jobs.

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