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RISMEDIA, Jan. 29, 2008-Nehemiah Corporation of America, a provider of private downpayment assistance in the United States, announced that the non-profit has provided more than $1 billion in mortgage downpayment assistance through The Nehemiah Program®.

According to the company, initiated in 1997, The Nehemiah Program has helped over 250,000 minority and low to moderate income families become homeowners to date. The Program reported substantial growth in 2007 as banks and mortgage lenders abandoned risky products once promoted to low and moderate income families and returned to the stability and affordability of mortgage products offered in conjunction with FHA loan insurance.

The Nehemiah Program provides private downpayment assistance to home buyers who qualify for FHA-insured mortgages but are not able to make the downpayment necessary to secure the mortgage. Nehemiah reported an increase of 96% in the number of gifts provided in 2007 versus 2006.

“The flight to quality by both lenders and borrowers has resulted in the resurgence of The Nehemiah Program in 2007. Amidst the nationwide tragedy of the subprime loan crisis, Nehemiah’s downpayment assistance program provides a safe option for tens of thousands of underserved families who would otherwise find the door to homeownership closed.” said Scott Syphax, president and CEO of Nehemiah Corporation of America. “This extraordinary increase in downpayment gifts is a clear indication that The Nehemiah Program is playing a more important role than ever in ensuring the future of homeownership for working class families striving to live the American dream.”

Additional 2007 highlights include:

– The average size of downpayment gift presented to families was $5,400
– The average family income of those assisted was less than $60,000
– Nearly 40% of those assisted by The Nehemiah Program were minorities and almost 32% of those assisted were female head-of-households

Despite strong Congressional and public support of private downpayment assistance, in October 2007 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development implemented a rule banning the programs. However, Judge Friedman of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued a ruling enjoining HUD from implementing the downpayment assistance rule indefinitely.

“Since June, the U.S. Conference of Mayors has supported the efforts of private downpayment assistance providers in the fight against HUD’s rule banning such programs,” said Mayor Manny Diaz of Miami, vice president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Today’s announcement illustrates the continuing need and demand for pro-consumer homeownership assistance programs like Nehemiah’s, particularly in the midst of today’s credit crisis. Nehemiah is helping to make dreams realities, stabilize communities, and build financial strength for low to moderate income families throughout the United States. When the nation’s mayors find such success among respected downpayment assistance programs, it makes us proud to be part of the fight to keep them alive. We urge Senator Dodd and the conferees deliberating on the FHA reform bill before Congress to join us in keeping this important portal to homeownership open to America’s cities and working families.”

“Over the past ten years, The Nehemiah Program has provided the needed downpayment gifts that have helped hundreds of thousands of families realize the American dream of homeownership. Eliminating private downpayment assistance programs abandons a critical tool for creating homeownership and building wealth among low to middle income families,” said Syphax. “The important role that private downpayment assistance plays in building wealth, creating stability in neighborhoods and giving families and individuals a stake in their communities is undeniable. We will continue to fight to keep these programs alive and ensure working families have access to the sustainable homeownership that The Nehemiah Program provides.”

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