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Minority Homeownership Award Winners Help Sustain American Dream

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While the past few years have been challenging for many, owning a home continues to be a goal for Americans of every background, according to John D. Trasviña, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Trasviña made his remarks during the recent Multicultural Housing & HOPE Awards Symposium at the National Association of REALTORS® Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C.

Assistant Secretary Trasviña told REALTORS® that for the housing market and struggling home owners, the past few years have been filled with uncertainty and adversity, and that work needed to be done to restore faith in the value of owning a home, which helps shapes communities and strengthens the nation’s economy.

“It’s been a long journey and we’ve faced many challenges, but I believe that anyone who is able and willing to assume the responsibilities of owning a home should have the opportunity to pursue that goal. We must all work together to defend and protect the American dream of homeownership,” he says.

Trasviña also praised the winners of the 2011 HOPE (Home Ownership Participation for Everyone) Awards, a national industry awards program that recognizes individuals and organizations for helping minority home buyers minimize and overcome barriers to owning and sustaining a home.

“I commend the HOPE Awards winners for the work they are doing—thousands have achieved and sustained home ownership because of your help. It takes vision to be a leader and there is no doubt that your service and vision are helping to dramatically change and improve the lives of so many people.

Thank you for what you have accomplished,” says Trasviña.

REALTOR® Alex Chaparro, past chairman of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, led the awards presentation and panel discussion with the HOPE Awards winners. The seven winners were chosen based on impact, innovation, minority focus, leadership, and contributions to increase affordable housing, in the areas of education, finance, leadership, media, housing project, public policy, and real estate brokerage. The winners were presented with trophies and $10,000 honorariums.

Phyllis Caldwell, director of the Center for Homeownership—Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Forsyth County Inc., in Winston-Salem, N.C., won the Education award. She shared how her organization is the central housing education, counseling and resource agency for Winston-Salem and Forsyth County residents. The one-stop, full-service housing counseling center has helped more than 900 people achieve home ownership through pre-purchase counseling, credit rebuilding, home buyer education, budgeting assistance, and seminars and workshops.

Howard Mandeville, executive director of Movin’ Out Inc., in Madison, Wis., won the Finance award and told attendees about how his nonprofit housing organization helps individuals with permanent disabilities and their families attain and sustain safe, affordable and integrated home ownership outside of group housing so that they may fully participate in their community. The organization has provided more than $18 million to families across the state, helping nearly 900 households achieve home ownership.

David Bland, chairman of Travois Inc., from Kansas City, Mo., received the Leadership award for his work offering development and financing assistance, and support and training to more than 50 American Indian tribes. Bland explained how tribes suffer from some of the highest poverty rates and worst housing conditions in the nation and how he has successfully raised more than $350 million in new private capital that has been used to build or rehab more than 3,700 homes for rent or ownership on reservations across the country.

Media winner eHome America, a product of the Community Ventures Corp., in Lexington, Ky., was represented by Senior Executive Vice President Sandra Noble Canon, who shared how an online home buyer education tool is a low-cost option for offering high-quality home buyer education to individuals in rural areas of the state with limited local resources. The multilingual course is based on NeighborWorks America curricula and has been so successful that in less than two years, more than 10,000 homebuyers in 42 states have completed the course.

Alejandro Becerra, author and independent consultant from Silver Spring, Md., received the Policy award for his efforts over three decades to advocate policies to increase and sustain minority ownership. Becerra told attendees about his work with HUD, where he pioneered a home ownership voucher program in Arizona; the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he helped preserve the federal government’s only rural homeownership program for low- and moderate-income families; and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, where he formerly served as a Senior Housing Fellow.

Home HeadQuarters Inc., from Syracuse, N.Y., was the Project award winner.

Kerry Quaglia, executive director, received the award for the not-for-profit organization’s long-term dedication to revitalizing neighborhoods in central and upstate New York, especially in Syracuse’s Near West Side neighborhood.

The organization is revitalizing a dilapidated neighborhood near the city’s downtown and has acquired 103 residential properties. They are currently rehabbing, deconstructing, demolishing, or building new homes with an emphasis on energy conservation and affordable home ownership.

Ester Alfau-Compas, co-owner and broker of Adamo Realty Network in Miami, received the Real Estate Broker Award; her full-service real estate brokerage has helped hundreds of culturally diverse South Florida residents achieve the American dream of home ownership. She highlighted the brokerage’s decade-old housing education program that has been offered to more than 600 low- to moderate-income individuals each year and focuses on pre-purchase education, financial fitness counseling and post-purchase advice and resources.

The National Association of REALTORS® “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

For more information please visit www.realtor.org.

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