SOURCE: Neighborworks America

NeighborWorks America

May 05, 2009 12:00 ET

NeighborWorks America Names 2009 Government Service Award Recipients

Honors Federal, State, and Local Officials for Achievements in Affordable Housing and Community Development

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - May 5, 2009) - Today NeighborWorks® America announced the 2009 NeighborWorks® Government Service Award recipients, an honor that recognizes elected or appointed officials at the local, state, and federal levels that have made significant contributions toward improving the lives of the people in their communities through support for affordable housing and community development.

The 2009 NeighborWorks Government Service Award recipients are:

--  Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, U.S. House of Representatives (D-
    NY), Federal Government Service Award: Velázquez was the first Puerto Rican
    woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Latina to
    lead a full Congressional committee -- taking over as Chair of the Small
    Business Committee in 2006.  She is a champion for financial literacy,
    housing counseling, fairness in lending, and affordable housing.  From
    serving as New York's most senior Member on the Financial Service
    Committee's Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity to assembling
    a roundtable of housing and finance experts to address the foreclosure
    crisis, Velázquez has worked extensively to preserve affordable housing in
    her District and the nation, prevent predatory lending, increase the
    availability of housing counseling, and provide economic opportunities for
    public housing residents.
    
--  Thomas C. Slater, Representative, Rhode Island House of
    Representatives, State Government Service Award:  For 15 years,
    Representative Slater has been a vocal proponent of affordable housing
    initiatives in Rhode Island, and demonstrated a deep-seeded commitment to
    community development.  This commitment led him to successfully sponsor $50
    million housing bond legislation in 2006 that today funds the state's
    affordable housing efforts.  Representative Slater not only sponsored this
    important measure, but participated in the development of an effective
    oversight and delivery system that ensured the state housing commission had
    sufficient funds to administer the bond program.  Representative Slater is
    always available to his constituents, and takes time to work directly with
    residents to draft and submit legislation that affects the lives of many.
    Representative Slater is accessible, honorable, dedicated and resourceful,
    and works tirelessly to improve the lives of Rhode Island residents.
    
--  Joseph A. Belval, Housing Development Manager, City of Phoenix
    Neighborhood Services Department, Local Government Service Award: Joseph
    Belval has a strong history with, and commitment to, neighborhood
    revitalization, stemming from the late 1970s when he worked as a community
    organizer in Chicago.  As Housing Development Manager, Belval is at the
    center of intensive, community-driven, neighborhood-specific strategies for
    Phoenix's older, distressed neighborhoods, overcoming blight house-by-house
    and block-by-block.  Viewed equally as a leader and partner, Belval
    provides strategic guidance and coordination to eliminate blighted
    properties, doing whatever it takes to acquire and transform the
    properties, then turn them into homeownership opportunities primarily for
    the benefit of low- and moderate-income families. Belval's commitment to
    his vision has produced 158 scattered-site infill homes to forward the
    city's revitalization agenda.  Belval brings a generous and affirming
    spirit to all he does, tirelessly giving of his time and energy to his
    peers, his staff and his partners in the community.
    
--  Ken McCormick, Deputy District Attorney, Contra Costa County, Calif.,
    Local Government Service Award: After criminally prosecuting fraudulent
    foreclosure rescue scam artists for the last two years, Contra County
    Deputy District Attorney McCormick wanted to do more to educate homeowners
    about the dangers of foreclosure rescue scams, and connect them to the
    appropriate resources.  McCormick, who also leads the county's Real Estate
    fraud unit, developed a bilingual District Attorney Advisory letter that
    warns homeowners about foreclosure rescue scams and gives borrowers
    information about where to turn for legitimate help.  The letter is sent to
    all homeowners who receive default notices, which has resulted in a spike
    in client intakes at nonprofit housing counseling agencies.  Taking the
    foreclosure scam prevention even further, McCormick seamlessly connected
    foreclosure counselors to legal service providers, which enables both
    providers to refer clients to the appropriate channels when foreclosure
    scams have likely occurred. Because of McCormick's early recognition of the
    predatory environment created by the foreclosure crisis, more homeowners in
    Contra Costa County and neighboring counties are asking for, and receiving
    help to avoid foreclosure.
    

"The commitment demonstrated by these leaders at the federal, state and local government levels is ever more important given today's challenges in the housing market and the economic crisis," said Ken Wade, CEO of NeighborWorks® America. "The 2009 honorees recognize the far-reaching impact of community development efforts. From supporting foreclosure intervention efforts and educating families about predatory foreclosure rescue scams, to ensuring residents have access to quality affordable housing, and revitalizing areas affected by blight, the 2009 honorees have made the communities they represent better places to live. We are proud to honor them for their invaluable service."

Honorees have achieved substantive accomplishments that include initiating and implementing public policies and programs that strengthen communities or expand the supply of affordable housing. They are in touch with their constituents -- listening to their opinions and working with them to implement strategies and policies that succeed. Their demonstrated commitment and dedication make them stand out as leaders in touch with the people they serve.

Wade commended the award recipients for understanding the extensive influence housing issues have on individuals, the local economy and the entire nation. For every dollar spent on quality, affordable housing, $35 are returned in the form of job creation, increased independence and tax contributions, new businesses, and access to higher education.

For more information about the NeighborWorks® Government Service Awards and the 2009 awardees, please visit www.nw.org/network/neighborworksProgs/awards or contact Erin Angell Collins, 202-220-6317, ecollins@nw.org, or Doug Robinson, 202-220-2360, drobinson@nw.org.

About NeighborWorks® America

NeighborWorks® America creates opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing. Since 1991, we have assisted nearly 1.2 million low- to moderate-income families with their housing needs. Much of our success is achieved through our support of the NeighborWorks® network -- more than 230 community development organizations working in more than 4,400 urban, suburban and rural communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In the last five years, NeighborWorks® organizations have generated more than $15 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks® America is the nation's leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals. www.nw.org.

Contact Information