New Model for Affordable Housing Coming to Central Texas

BCL of Texas

 

 

Next Step

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 24, 2017
Media contact: Grant Beck
g.beck@nextstepus.org, (202) 851-7550

LA GRANGE, TX—Nonprofit organization Texas Community Builders, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Business and Community Lenders (BCL) of Texas, is demonstrating the potential of delivering affordable, energy-efficient housing in Texas’ rural communities with factory built housing through a partnership with Next Step Homes, LLC and Clayton Homes.

A Clayton model home in La Grange, Texas, will serve as an example of what is possible for teachers, first responders, families and individuals of moderate income levels, and more searching for higher value, lower cost homeownership opportunities to promote asset building.

City officials, economic developers, and members of the public will be invited to an open house and tour of this model home to explore the future of sustainable housing. An open house for developers, real estate professionals, and officials will be held on Wednesday, August 11th, with a second event for members of the public on Saturday, August 26th.

Pricing for 3-bedroom, 2-bath homes ranges from the $150s to the $170s, including the land. Homes are highly customizable with optional features and a choice of layouts, and are built on a permanent foundation to ENERGY STAR® standards. Homes will be available for purchase or order as early as August 2017.

Rosa Ríos Valdez, CEO of Texas Community Builders, said, “We are proud to work with our partners to offer a model for affordable, energy-efficient housing that will be replicable in communities across Texas.”

“This is a great opportunity to show the benefits of factory-built home,” said Stacey Epperson, president and founder of Next Step. “Working with Texas Community Builders, we hope to provide sustainable homeownership opportunities for more hard working Texas families.”

Please visit nextstephometour.eventbrite.com to RSVP for the August 9 event, or nextstepopenhouse.eventbrite.com to reserve a spot for the public event on August 26.

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About Texas Community Builders:
Texas Community Builders is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BCL of Texas. Texas Community builders was chartered in 2000, and is led by a volunteer board of directors. Its portfolio of properties includes commercial office, single family, multi family, industrial and land bank.

About BCL of Texas:
Established in 1990 as a statewide not-for-profit Certified Development Corporation, BCL of Texas successfully promotes homeownership and community development and provides business capital and commercial real estate loans throughout Texas. The organization also offers homebuyer education classes, assists first-time homebuyers with the purchase of their first home and helps customers remain responsible and successful homebuyers. BCL of Texas is a member of the nation-wide NeighborWorks® Network, which engages in revitalization strategies that strengthen communities and transform lives. For more information, visit www.bcloftexas.org

About Next Step® Network
Next Step mobilizes a national network of nonprofits to provide affordable housing tailored to the needs of communities that they serve. Their system – Manufactured Housing Done Right® – connects responsible financing, comprehensive homebuyer education and delivery of high-quality, ENERGY STAR® manufactured homes at scale, creating a model that brings more value to the customer. Learn more at www.nextstepus.org.

 

About Clayton Homes

Founded in 1956, Clayton is committed to opening doors to a better life and building happiness through homeownership. As a diverse builder committed to quality and durability, Clayton offers traditional site-built homes, modular homes, manufactured housing, tiny homes, college dormitories, military barracks and apartments. In 2016, Clayton built more than 41,000 homes. Clayton is a Berkshire Hathaway company. For more information, visit claytonhomes.com.

Keep Funding for National Service Programs

Siting a house

By Tyler Mullins, Next Step Marketing & Communications Assistant and
Megan Sherehiy, Executive Assistant/Fundraising

(Note: This a part three of a three-part series exploring the Trump administration’s proposed FY 2018 budget. Read part one here. Read part two here.)

Next Step is a relatively young social enterprise. Born in eastern Kentucky, where manufactured homes are a significant portion of the residential housing stock, we moved to Louisville in 2010 to scale our strategy nationally, with the mission of putting homeownership within reach of everyone. Today, we have nine team members, more than fifty national nonprofit partners, and serve homeowners and communities in 29 states and the District of Columbia.

Over the years, Next Step has had the privilege of participating in the AmeriCorps VISTA program, a national service program – administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) – that helps nonprofits increase capacity to deliver programs and services at critical times. Five AmeriCorps VISTAs have served at Next Step since 2010, and two of us transitioned to full-time employment at Next Step after our service term was complete. The flexibility of AmeriCorps service members to perform varied duties – combined with the low cost to utilize their skills – is the perfect recipe for a high return on investment for nonprofits. As a result, programs like AmeriCorps enable nonprofits to better provide services and meet the needs of their communities.

The Trump administration’s proposed budget would eliminate CNCS – along with the AmeriCorps, VISTA and SeniorCorps programs – striking a massive blow to community service across the country. Defunding CNCS is not only detrimental to communities and mission-driven organizations, but to the tens of thousands Americans who choose to serve their communities every year through these programs.

AmeriCorps, VISTA and SeniorCorps all open doors for those seeking to build professional skills, advance their careers or find their first full-time job – a struggle for many new college graduates. A term of service provides an unmatched opportunity to get a taste for nonprofit work, while an organization gets a year to decide whether to bring on their service member as an employee. In a survey of AmeriCorps alumni, eight out of 10 alumni said that AmeriCorps benefited and advanced their career path. A significant number of AmeriCorps members transition to full-time employees at their service site after their term of service, and many members find work through a connection made during their service term.

In addition to career advancement, AmeriCorps and similar service programs open pathways for civic engagement. Since 1994, more than 1 million individuals have served as AmeriCorps service members – performing 1.4 billion hours of service and leveraging $1 billion in resources every year. It also opens avenues for young people to broaden their horizons – particularly those growing up in lower income rural and urban areas – and affect meaningful change in their communities. By participating in these programs, many these individuals build relationships and friendships that positively impact them throughout their lifetimes

Service members in CNCS programs have served with dozens of nonprofit housing organizations across the country. As the affordable housing crisis deepens, the work that these nonprofits do is vital, and the capacity offered by participation in service programs like AmeriCorps is critical for many of these organizations. During their term of service with Next Step, AmeriCorps VISTAs have developed and implemented fundraising, communications, outreach and training programs for our organization, helping more homebuyers and homeowners gain access to services like education and counseling that help build sustainable homeownership.

Next Step – and so many other housing nonprofits across the country – greatly benefit from the VISTA program’s goal to alleviate poverty, as affordable homeownership that is within reach for families is one of the keys to reducing poverty. Stable housing is definitively linked to better health, higher educational achievement, lowered crime rates, financial stability, and increased community and civic participation. It keeps families together and children out of the welfare system, and it reduces the rates of domestic violence and alcohol dependence. Taking away access to these community service programs robs additional families of a brighter future.

Defunding CNCS, as Trump proposes to do in his budget, would damage mission-driven organizations nationwide. Nonprofits already facing funding struggles will have less capacity to provide critical services, and graduates seeking to advance their careers through national service will have fewer opportunities. The impact of service programs like AmeriCorps on the communities they serve, as well as on those members in service, is more than worth our time and money.

The Damage of Eliminating Energy-Efficiency Programs

Stacey Epperson

By Stacey Epperson, Next Step President & Founder

(Note: This a part two of a three-part series exploring the Trump administration’s proposed FY 2018 budget. Read part one here.)

A keystone in Next Step’s mission and work is energy-efficiency. This is why – when working with our network members – all of our factory-built homes meet ENERGY STAR® standards at minimum. One of the reasons our homes are ENERGY STAR-certified is simple math: homes that are energy-efficient mean less utility costs for homeowners and families. That is more money in their pockets, to help pay for basic necessities, health care for loved ones, or savings for a child’s education.

Another reason is that we believe in responsible environmental stewardship. That we should be dedicated to using the technology and resources that we can to foster cleaner, more efficient energy sources. Frustratingly, the Trump administration’s proposed budget seeks to eliminate effective programs that have helped, and can do much more to build a greener infrastructure. Cuts to the EPA, the elimination ENERGY STAR program, and lack of incentives for more energy-efficient housing are a step back for hard working American families, and for the manufactured housing industry.

Under the Trump administration’s proposed budget, the EPA faces a 32 percent reduction in federal funding. This equates to more than 3,000 EPA employees losing their jobs – creating a severe lack of capacity to aid state and local environmental programs. These programs are critical for providing clean drinking water and waste water management services for communities – rural communities in particular. As recently as this week, the Trump administration moved to eliminate the Clean Water Rule, which safeguards drinking water for one in three Americans.

Notably, the cuts to the EPA include elimination of the ENERGY STAR program. A brand recognized by 90 percent of American households, the program has helped families and businesses save $360 billion on utility bills, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2.5 billion metric tons since 1992. Manufactured homes can be certified as ENERGY STAR after meeting the standards set by the program. It’s voluntary for manufacturers to meet these standards, but the impact of ENERGY STAR manufactured homes is tremendous. Working with a variety of stakeholders and partners, 463 new ENERGY STAR factory-built homes have been delivered through Next Step programs. These homes will contribute to more than $4 million in 30-year energy cost savings for homeowners, and have eliminated 856 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. ENERGY STAR homes can save homeowners upward of $30 a month on utility costs, a significant savings for many families in both rural and urban communities. Cutting such a well-recognized program – one that effectively saves money for families and businesses – is a tough move to defend.

Instead of damaging or destroying existing energy-efficiency programs for manufactured homes, the Trump administration should be investing in programs that have proven to work for both the industry and homeowners. Up until December 31, 2016, a federal tax credit of up to $2,000 was available for builders of all new energy-efficient homes. After being extended several times, the tax credit expired at the end of 2016. An incentive program administered by the Tennessee Valley Authority for manufacturers to create energy-efficient manufactured homes also recently ended. These incentive programs benefit the industry, homeowners and the environment – and the federal government should be setting precedent by investing more resources into these types of programs.

The Trump administration should be working to foster programs proven to save money for American families, and reduce our environmental footprint. Instead, it is taking actions that not only endanger sustainable homeownership opportunities, but derail progress made in shifting to a greener economy an infrastructure.

 

New Model for Affordable Housing Coming to Central Texas

BCL of Texas

 

 

Next Step

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 28, 2017
Media contact: Grant Beck
g.beck@nextstepus.org, (202) 851-7550

LA GRANGE, TX— Nonprofit organization Texas Community Builders, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Business and Community Lenders (BCL) of Texas, is demonstrating the potential of delivering affordable, energy-efficient housing in Texas’ rural communities with factory built housing through a partnership with Next Step Homes, LLC and Clayton Homes.

A model home in La Grange, Texas, will serve as an example of what is possible for teachers, first responders, families and individuals of moderate income levels, and more searching for higher value, lower cost homeownership opportunities to promote asset building.

City officials, economic developers, and members of the public will be invited to an open house and tour of this model home to explore the future of sustainable housing. An open house for home buyers and the public will be held on Saturday, July 8, with a second event for developers, real estate professionals, and officials on Friday, July 21.

Pricing for 3 bedroom, 2 bath homes starts from $149,000, including the land. Homes are highly customizable with optional features and a choice of layouts, and are built on a permanent foundation to ENERGY STAR® standards. Homes will be available for purchase or order as early as August 2017.

Rosa Ríos Valdez, CEO of Texas Community Builders, said, “We are proud to work with our partners to offer a model for affordable, energy-efficient housing that will be replicable in communities across Texas.”

“This is a great opportunity to show the benefits of factory-built home,” said Stacey Epperson, president and founder of Next Step. “Working with Texas Community Builders, we hope to provide sustainable homeownership opportunities for more hard working Texas families.”

Please visit nextstephometour.eventbrite.com to RSVP for the July 21 event, or nextstepopenhouse.eventbrite.com to reserve a spot for the public event on July 8.

###

About Texas Community Builders:
Texas Community Builders is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BCL of Texas. Texas Community builders was chartered in 2000, and is led by a volunteer board of directors. Its portfolio of properties includes commercial office, single family, multi family, industrial and land bank.

About BCL of Texas:
Established in 1990 as a statewide not-for-profit Certified Development Corporation, BCL of Texas successfully promotes homeownership and community development and provides business capital and commercial real estate loans throughout Texas. The organization also offers homebuyer education classes, assists first-time homebuyers with the purchase of their first home and helps customers remain responsible and successful homebuyers. BCL of Texas is a member of the nation-wide NeighborWorks® Network, which engages in revitalization strategies that strengthen communities and transform lives. For more information, visit www.bcloftexas.org.

About Next Step® Network
Next Step mobilizes a national network of nonprofits to provide affordable housing tailored to the needs of communities that they serve. Their system – Manufactured Housing Done Right® – connects responsible financing, comprehensive homebuyer education and delivery of high-quality, ENERGY STAR® manufactured homes at scale, creating a model that brings more value to the customer. Learn more at www.nextstepus.org.

About Clayton Homes
Founded in 1956, Clayton is proud of its history of providing affordable, quality homes. The company is committed to opening doors to a better life and helping to build happiness through homeownership. As a diverse builder committed to quality and durability, Clayton offers traditional site-built homes, modular homes, manufactured housing, tiny homes, park model recreational vehicles, college dormitories, military barracks and apartments. In 2016, Clayton built more than 41,000 homes. Clayton is a Berkshire Hathaway company. For more information, visit claytonhomes.com.

 

What Does the Trump Agenda Mean for Manufactured Housing?

Stacey Epperson

By Stacey Epperson, Next Step President & Founder

(Note: This a part one of a three-part series exploring the Trump administration’s proposed FY 2018 budget.)

For manufactured housing advocates, the fact that manufactured homes are the single largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing is a point of pride. Manufactured housing represents an affordable, stable and energy-efficient housing option for millions of hardworking Americans. It’s one of the reasons why I became invested in this industry, and why Next Step believes that manufactured homes are a viable solution to create sustainable homeownership opportunities in rural communities. But this longstanding idea fades when you consider the needs of homeowners and families beyond housing. The costs associated with health care, utility bills and basic necessities all place additional burdens on families looking to make monthly payments on their home.

The Trump administration’s agenda – printed plainly in the proposed federal budget for 2018 – does not support those in rural America who want to purchase and own a manufactured home.

Let’s first examine the impact of health care on rural homeowners. The administration has staunchly supported the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in favor of plan that the Congressional Budget Office estimates would leave 23 million Americans uninsured by 2026. Before the ACA was signed into law in 2010, approximately half of all bankruptcies were related to health care debts. Under the ACA, bankruptcy filings have dropped 50 percent, from 1,536,799 in 2010 to 770,846 in 2016. Bankruptcy reflects negatively on credit – a critical component for being approved for a manufactured home loan. Low-income families and older Americans (a large part of the manufactured homebuyer market) are most impacted by health care cuts. Insurance coverage and lower medical bills means more money for housing costs. If we keep people insured, they are better able to successfully finance and purchase a home.

Decline in Bankruptcy

 

More directly related to housing, the administration’s proposed budget takes a massive swipe at both the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development program, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Each of these offices are vital to creating vibrant rural communities, helping foster key development opportunities that directly benefit folks living this these communities.

Many of the programs within USDA’s Rural Development office face crippling budget cuts – or outright elimination – under the proposed budget. Aside from programs intended to spur business development and environmental stewardship, the 31 percent reduction essentially eliminates critical housing programs – like the Mutual Self-Help Housing program and the Section 502 Direct loan program – which have helped so many rural Americans purchase their own homes. Another point of contention is the elimination of the USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development position, which is currently the only sub-cabinet position dedicated entirely to strengthening rural communities.

The administration’s proposed budget guts HUD by more than $6 billion. The proposal completely eliminates funding for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program. The block grants available through CDBG funds help small cities, rural areas and urban areas clear blight, assemble buildable lots and replace old homes with new homes. These types of grants are a perfect solution to fund mobile home replacement with new ENERGY STAR® homes. It also funds down payment assistance and housing services across the country helping new homebuyers successfully purchase a home.

Cuts to HUD impact not only manufactured homeowners, but the industry itself. The oversight for the industry needs investment, staff and resources to elevate this type of housing as an affordable housing solution. Manufactured housing is already overlooked at HUD – few outside of the department know that it exists. NeighborWorks America is also zeroed out in the budget, coming at a time when there has been a decade worth of investment from both nonprofits that are a part of the NeighborWorks network, and industry leaders looking to build impactful partnerships to boost manufactured housing production and usage.

Only now are we getting manufactured homeownership recognized as a viable option in the housing counseling sector. To grow access to manufactured housing, we need to stabilize the budget for those programs that directly benefit both homeowners and the industry, and advocate for equitable program access for manufactured housing. Federal agencies should lead the way for every jurisdiction in this country to recognize that manufactured homes are a cost effective way to address the affordable housing shortage.

Additionally, the administration’s proposed budget defunds programs that directly benefit many rural Americans – allowing them to put more money toward a mortgage or monthly housing costs. How many of us know older homeowners that benefit from a senior center, the local Meals on Wheels chapter? Or consider those living in manufactured homes that hope to send their children to college, but need the support of federal aid. Then there are the job training and support programs offered by the Appalachian Regional Commission and Delta Regional Authority – both eliminated under the proposed budget.

As all of these programs outlined above directly support rural communities, I am perplexed with the Administration’s approach, particularly in regards to a strong base of Trump voters, where folks are again left behind in the wake of the president’s budget. We have made significant progress in the past decade in the manufactured housing space. To grow the access to manufactured housing, we need to stabilize the HUD and USDA budget, and advocate for equitable program access for manufactured housing. The Trump administration should be invested in setting an example for local jurisdictions, helping expand recognition that manufactured housing is a cost effective way to address America’s affordable housing shortage.

I challenge our members and partners show your accomplishments to your congressional delegations. Make sure they know how these cuts will affect your ability to provide Manufactured Housing Done Right® in your communities.