RISMEDIA, March 22, 2007-The unprecedented boom in homeownership and home values in recent years has benefited many Americans, but not all. The First American Homeownership Foundation (FAHF), a philanthropic entity established by The First American Corporation, which recently completed its first year of operation, is working to address this inequity. FAHF focused heavily on assisting minority, new-immigrant and lower-income families achieve the dream of homeownership in 2006, and this year will emphasize helping current homeowners navigate the adjustable rate mortgage payment increases that are expected to be particularly challenging for lower-income families in 2007 and 2008.
In its inaugural year, FAHF provided grants to more than 50 housing-related nonprofit initiatives across the nation. It forged partnerships with Los Angeles-based Operation HOPE, Inc.; Habitat for Humanity; Neighborhood Housing Services of America affiliates in Chicago, Phoenix, St. Petersburg, Fla., and Anaheim, Calif.; ACORN Housing affiliates in Texas; Washington D.C.-based HomeFree-USA; and many other community-focused entities. All of the contributions aligned with FAHF's stated mission of funding projects related to four categories: real estate financial literacy, homebuyer education, affordable housing creation and neighborhood revitalization. Highlights of the 2006 accomplishments by FAHF grant recipients included:
– Real Estate Financial Literacy and Homebuyer Education
More than 10,000 individuals participated in financial literacy programs designed to help prepare them for the home-purchasing process and the responsibilities of homeownership. FAHF grant recipients also provided multicultural/diversity training for thousands of real estate professionals, helping better prepare them to serve ethnically diverse, emerging market homebuyers.
– Affordable Housing Creation
More than 750 low- to moderate-income families became homeowners through a mix of innovative mortgage lending programs and subsidized home construction activity.
– Neighborhood Revitalization
In the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, FAHF supported Operation HOPE's "Project Restore Hope" program, which helped tens of thousands of individuals whose lives were shattered by the storms. A FAHF-sponsored call center fielded more than 14,000 calls from those in need of financial assistance.
"Helping the victims of Katrina and Rita get back on their feet financially is a challenge that will take years, possibly decades, to fully achieve-but the immediate response by organizations such as the First American Homeownership Foundation helped our organization offer a light at the end of the tunnel to those who lost everything," said John Hope Bryant, founder and chief executive officer of Operation HOPE. "We're proud to be aligned with an organization that understands how critical the economic viability of America's under-served communities are to our nation as a whole."
In 2007, FAHF will focus on helping the real estate industry address an anticipated foreclosure crisis stemming from adjustable rate mortgage resets that will dramatically increase the monthly payments of the tens of thousands of lower-income homeowners in the next 18 months. The details of the FAHF foreclosure prevention assistance plan will be announced in May. In addition to its foreclosure assistance program, FAHF will continue to support the work of its partner organizations in the areas of real estate financial literacy, homebuyer education, affordable housing creation and neighborhood revitalization.
"Throughout our 118-year history, The First American Corporation has endeavored to be a good corporate citizen by giving back to the communities in which we do business," said Jo Etta Bandy, chairman of the First American Homeownership Foundation. "In the past, much of our philanthropy has been decentralized and fragmented, diluting our effectiveness in bringing lasting, positive change to our communities. Establishing the First American Homeownership Foundation has focused and streamlined our giving and is producing tangible results."
For more information, visit www.firstam.com.