Six U.S. Cities Recognized For Increasing Affordable Housing

By: Real Estate Advisor

Six U.S. cities have been recognized as the best places for increasing affordable housing by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the United States Conference of Mayors. The selected cities receive recognition for the innovations made in housing, improvements in housing opportunities and increased affordability.

Launched in 2004, the 'Ambassadors for Cities' program envisages the development of housing opportunities and homeownership in communities every year, through improved collaborations between local city governments and realtor associations. The program has so far honored 19 cities in the U.S. and has granted up to $95,000 towards affordable housing initiatives.

For this current year, six cities have been selected as the 2007 Ambassador Cities. They are:

1. Fort Smith, Arkansas and the Fort Smith Board of Realtors

The City of Forth Smith Homebuyers Assistance Program offers participants a well-defined education in credit counseling and mortgage readiness and also a five-week financial fitness course on budgeting, money management, credit and avoiding predatory lending. Over 200 families have purchased a home since 1997, as a result of the program.

2. San Diego, California and the San Diego Association of Realtors

The 'Back the Blue' Program specially designed for police officers provides them an interest rate "buy down". The program aims to bring down the monthly mortgage payments of the officers thereby helping them to purchase homes in the communities they serve.

3. Boulder, Colorado and the Boulder Area Realtor Association

The Southern Lights program involves building two duplexes that will house two families each. This realtor association provides funds and a minimum of 800 volunteer hours toward the construction of the homes.

4. Jacksonville, Florida and the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors

This association endeavors to enhance housing for employees of local businesses through their employer assisted housing (EAH) programs. Besides this, the realtors will also receive training to use this "Home from Work" program so as to assist local businesses set up their own EAH programs.

5. Miami, Florida and the Realtor Association of Greater Miami and the Beaches

This city envisages building a virtual housing center to connect renters with affordable rental units and home buyers with home sellers. The association's multi-language website and home listings will be linked to the Housing Central website. An educational program for realtors on various funding incentives for buyers and renters is also on the anvil.

6. Durham, North Carolina and the Durham Regional Association of Realtors

An annual training on the Durham's homeownership programs is being held every year since 1997 for realtors. Those who complete the training program are placed on Durham's realtor referral list. Potential home buyers are highly benefited by this homeownership program.

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