NeighborWorks America reports nearly $3.6 billion in rural economic impact in fiscal year 2017

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Washington, D.C. — NeighborWorks America announced today that in 2017, members of the NeighborWorks network leveraged nearly $3.6 billion of investment in rural communities. A total of 166 NeighborWorks organizations — 67.5 percent of the network — serve rural America. In 2017, NeighborWorks members created or maintained more than 35,000 jobs in rural communities.

Facilitating access to financial services and other programs that create ladders of opportunity is critical for people in rural communities. A recent NeighborWorks America consumer finance survey found that 46 percent of U.S. adults living in rural areas are "not too confident" or "not confident at all" of their ability to withstand a sudden financial emergency. 

David Dangler, director of the NeighborWorks Rural Initiative, said, "NeighborWorks America is committed to providing residents of rural communities with the resources they need to improve their lives and strengthen their communities."

For example, network member Wealth Watchers created the Comprehensive Rural Opportunities Program (CROP) to enable veterans to create and grow small businesses and farms. The initiative coordinates outreach, technical assistance and education to better reach rural farmers and ranchers in Florida and Georgia, particularly those who are socially disadvantaged (defined by the federal government as individuals subjected to racial, ethnic or cultural prejudice). A farming couple in Glen Saint Mary, Florida, enrolled in CROP and learned about personal budgeting, credit counseling, mortgage assistance, small business finance and other programs specific to their needs. In addition to providing a customized microloan and financial coaching, Wealth Watchers helped them identify a contractor for the project, Boots on the Ground Construction. 

Rehab and weatherization programs also are a vital resource for families struggling to stay in sustainable and affordable homes. NeighborWorks America teamed up with the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation to establish the Safe and Sound program. NeighborWorks member Self-Help Enterprises in San Joaquin Valley was able to transform a client's home with a Safe and Sound grant. The home had exposed electrical wiring, leaky plumbing, cracked and damaged exterior siding, and many other problems. In addition to repairs and upgrades, a wheelchair-accessible shower was installed to help with the homeowner's recovery from surgery.

Another example of a Safe and Sound beneficiary is NeighborWorks organization Housing Assistance Program of Essence County (HAPEC). HAPEC was able to fix a couple's roof and replace the windows and siding. Their home was one of many that incurred major damage from Hurricane Irene in 2011, and the couple was able to remain in the home where they'd lived for 35 years.

NeighborWorks America's Safe and Sound program aims to complete 40 rural housing rehabilitation or replacement projects in at least four rural regions within the United States by Sept. 30. The program also hopes to support pre- and post-disaster recovery efforts through the rehabilitation or replacement of damaged homes. The Safe and Sound program is made possible with a $600,000 donation by the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation.

For more information about NeighborWorks America's work in rural communities, visit www.NeighborWorks.org/rural. See these videos that highlight the organization's rural work in Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Maine. NeighborWorks America's white paper, "Turning the Tide on Persistent Rural Poverty," identifies strategies that have been effective in beginning to reverse such trends.

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