NCRC’s membership includes more than 600 community-focused organizations in 44 states. Here’s an introduction to one of them, HomesteadCS in Lafayette, Indiana, from their Executive Director, Marie Morse.
Tell us about the organization’s mission/focus area.
We work in 10 Indiana counties. Our mission is to provide education and other resources to increase affordable, sustainable housing opportunities and financial stability in the communities we serve and to be a catalyst for the development and revitalization of our neighborhoods.
Describe a current challenge in your community and how your organization is addressing this.
We have spent quite a bit of time on the issue of payday lending. We are members of several state organizations that work to get our payday interest rate lowered to 36% APR. The current allowable APR is 391%. We have developed a small dollar loan program to address this issue, but we need to continue to expand that reach. Our program has lent over $2 million and has saved our families over $3 million in fees and interest. We also work on the lack of affordable housing and are members of several local organizations that are working towards this. We are in the process of building a new affordable senior housing development that will be in addition to our current 74 units of senior housing. Our foreclosure and eviction prevention programs help families stay in the homes they have. We have saved over $158 million worth of homes from foreclosure since the 2008 crisis and we continue to help families access federal and state funds for both rental and homeownership.
Have you collaborated, or would you like to collaborate with other organizations to successfully achieve a goal?
We strongly believe in partnerships and are always looking for like minded organizations to achieve greater accomplishments than we can do on our own. We are members of several state and local groups that also work towards our goals. We partnered with another Indiana organization and three organizations from Texas to begin our small dollar loan program. We don’t believe in starting from scratch and are happy to lend any knowledge or successes we have, along with things that didn’t work as planned.
Why did you decide to join NCRC?
We originally became a member in order to better access housing counseling funds. However, we have found many more reasons to stay. Our organization is very interested in ensuring that families have a safe, decent place to live. We work to educate them on housing options and we work with our legislators to offer better state and federal solutions to housing. We use the Community Reinvestment Act to partner with lenders and we are very interested in consumer protection, equity in housing, fair lending and fair housing for all. These interests align well with what NCRC is about.
Please share a success story or memorable moment from your work.
A client contracted thyroid cancer and had to have surgery. She was off work for the surgery and recuperation. She was just back to work when COVID-19 hit, and then she was laid off. She began looking for work but was behind on her mortgage. When she finally returned to work, she was able to make her payment but unable to make a dent in her delinquency. We were able to have her mortgage reinstated so she was able to carry forward with her dream of homeownership.
Marie Morse is the Executive Director of HomesteadCS.
Pictured is a collage of HomesteadCS staff and some families they have helped featured in their entryway, courtesy of Marie Morse.