RISMEDIA, April 6, 2007-The National Association of Realtors® and the United States Conference of Mayors have designated six cities as 2007 Ambassador Cities, NAR announces. NAR and the mayors' conference, through its Council on the New American City, launched the Ambassadors for Cities Program in 2004 to encourage collaborations between local city governments and Realtor® associations to expand housing opportunities in their communities.
The program selects cities as Ambassadors and highlights the innovations they have implemented to promote homeownership, increase affordable housing and make their communities more livable. The Ambassadors for Cities Program has honored 19 cities and has awarded $95,000 in grants to support local affordable housing initiatives, NAR reports.
"Realtors® build communities and care about improving the availability of housing opportunities for all Americans," said NAR President Pat Vredevoogd Combs, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and vice president of Coldwell Banker-AJS-Schmidt. "Through this program, Realtors® and the country's mayors are working together to pioneer affordable housing solutions that will help improve communities and raise homeownership rates nationwide."
The Ambassadors for Cities Program has a goal of expanding housing opportunities and homeownership in four to six cities every year. Each of the cities will hold a public event later in the year at which they will receive their official Ambassadors plaque. The 2007 Ambassadors for Cities designees are:
1. Fort Smith, Ark., and the Fort Smith Board of Realtors®
City of Fort Smith Home buyers Assistance Program. Participants receive credit counseling and mortgage readiness education. The program also offers a five-week financial fitness course on budgeting, money management, credit and avoiding predatory lending. Since 1997, more than 200 families have purchased a home as a result of the program.
2. San Diego, Calif., and the San Diego Association of Realtors®
Back the Blue Program. The program will provide qualifying police officers with an interest rate "buy down." The goal is to help reduce officers' monthly mortgage payments so they can afford to purchase homes in the areas they serve.
3. Boulder, Colo., and the Boulder Area Realtor® Association
Southern Lights. The Realtor® association has partnered with the city and several other organizations to build two duplexes that will house two families each. The association will not only help fund the homes but also will provide a minimum of 800 volunteer hours toward their construction.
4. Jacksonville, Fla., and the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors®
The association and the mayor have joined forces to promote employer-assisted housing (EAH) programs to local businesses. Realtors® also will be trained to use NAR's EAH training program, "Home from Work," to help local businesses establish their own EAH programs.
5. Miami, Fla., and the Realtor® Association of Greater Miami and the Beaches
Housing Central. This is a virtual housing center that connects renters with affordable rental units and buyers with sellers. The Housing Central Web site will link to the Realtor® association's multi-language Web site and home listings. The association is also working with the Florida Housing Finance Corp. to provide a Realtor® course on affordable housing solutions and will develop a program to educate Realtors® on different funding incentives available to buyers and renters.
6. Durham, N.C., and the Durham Regional Association of Realtors®
Since 1997, the city and the Realtor® association have worked together to hold an annual training to educate Realtors® about the city's homeownership programs. Realtors® who complete the training are placed on the city's Realtor® Referral List. The program assists hundreds of potential home buyers every year.
For more information, visit www.Realtor.org.