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2008-04-30 12:57:00

NAR, Mayors Recognize 6 Cities For Promoting Housing Opportunities

The National Assn. of REALTORS® and the U.S. Conference of Mayors have designated six cities as 2008 Ambassador Cities. The cities are Alexandria, Va., Allentown, Pa., Asheville, N.C., Bowling Green, Ky., Irvine, Calif., and Richmond, Va.

NAR and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, through its Council on the New American City, launched the Ambassador for Cities program in 2003. The program encourages cities and local REALTOR® associations to form partnerships to promote affordable housing and homeownership in their communities.

“REALTORS® build communities and are helping solve the nation’s affordability crisis through innovative and collaborative partnerships and programs,” said NAR President Dick Gaylord, a broker with RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, Calif. “The Ambassador for Cities program helps us highlight these successful and effective partnerships between REALTORS®, mayors and their cities while calling attention to the need to create additional housing opportunities in the communities we call home.”

The six cities named an “Ambassador City” will hold public events throughout 2008, which will highlight the success of their partnership and provide an opportunity to further discuss and encourage universal affordable housing. Through the program, local REALTOR® associations receive $5,000 to help promote their event or initiative. Since its inception, the program has honored 29 cities and awarded $145,000 in grants to support local affordable housing initiatives.

The 2008 Ambassador for Cities designees and their programs are:

Alexandria, Va., and the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS®

Homeownership/Workforce Housing and Foreclosure Prevention. NVAR partnered with the city to address affordable housing issues through outreach and education to low- to moderate-income residents who rent rather than own their homes. NVAR has also partnered with the city to organize home buyer seminars for city employees and Alexandria City Public School teachers as well as events to educate homeowners about avoiding foreclosure.

Allentown, Pa., and the Lehigh Valley Association of REALTORS®

Hometown Heroes. LVAR and the city partnered to create homeownership opportunities for police officers, fire fighters and emergency services personnel. The program provides need-based financial assistance and home buyer education to employees who purchase their principal residence within the city.

Asheville, N.C., and the Asheville Board of REALTORS®

Affordable Housing Task Force. ABR is a key member of a task force working to create an affordable housing plan for Asheville. The plan will include recommendations to address zoning challenges, incentives for building affordable housing and redeveloping public housing, a free tax-preparation collaborative, an employer-assisted housing initiative, and an affordable housing public awareness campaign.

Bowling Green, Ky., and the REALTOR® Association of Southern Kentucky

Credit Responsible Communities. REALTORS® and the city are partnering with other nonprofits to help increase the city’s homeownership rates through home buyer counseling both before and after purchase.

Irvine, Calif., and the Orange County Association of REALTORS®

Public Officials 101. OCAR worked with the city and other partners to develop a homeownership education program for Orange County mayors, council members and city managers. The program provides information about the state of local housing and the resources available to develop workforce housing initiatives within their cities.

Richmond, Va., and the Richmond Association of REALTORS®

Mayor's Interagency Task Force. RAR is a key member of a task force aimed at creating economically diverse neighborhoods and providing affordable housing for Richmond’s workforce. The task force is working to streamline the city’s permits and inspections process, create new mixed-use zoning ordinances and affordable dwelling unit ordinances, establish an affordable housing trust fund, and coordinate a mixed income neighborhood pilot project.

The National Association of REALTORS® “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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