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Wednesday, January 11, 2017


NHS of New Haven is now accepting applications for our 2017 Resident Leadership Program! 

About the Resident Leadership Program: 
In March 2010, Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven launched its Building Leaders, Building Communities: Resident Leadership Program. The program was an essential element of the training and education component of our Neighborhood Revitalization Institute.

Based on a curriculum developed in conjunction with our national partner, NeighborWorks®America, the program consists of five units. The primary goals of this program are to transfer concrete leadership skills to New Haven residents, create a space for participants to share their experiences with one another and increase their sense of being agents of change. One key to achieving these goals starts with the fundamental belief that participants and the communities they represent are assets. Oftentimes leadership programs are built to fill in the “missing gaps” in emerging leaders rather than to hone the strengths they already possess or allow time to build confidence and skills. This program aims to change that paradigm.

We are pleased to be able to offer a new round of workshops for this year's program, and they are:

Building Leaders, Building Communities Curriculum

March 28, 2017: Art and Science of Leadership
April 4, 2017: Mapping Community Assets
April 18, 2017: Understanding Power for Community Change
May 2, 2017: Planning Successful Campaigns
May 9, 2017: Leading Great Meetings

Participants must attend at least four of the workshops listed above in order to receive a NeighborWorks Certificate. Sessions will be held from 6pm-8pm at NHS of New Haven. Dinner will be provided at 5:30pm. 

There are a number of options you can utilize when applying for our Resident Leadership Program. The application, as well as $20 registration fee, is due by March 14, 2017:

1) Click this link and fill out the online form. Save the document on your computer and then email to

2) Click this link and print the application. Then mail to 333 Sherman Avenue, New Haven, CT 06614 (ATTN: Chandel Gibbs). Application must be received by March 14, 2017

3) If you do not have access to a computer, feel free to stop by our offices during normal business hours to pick one up and fill it out in person. 

Past Facilitators:

Stephen Cremin-Endes Director of Community Building and Organizing, Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven 
Lee Cruz Community Outreach Director, the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
Velma Geroge Neighborhood Specialist, the City of New Haven's Livable City Initiative 
Erik Johnson former Director of the City of New Haven's Livable City Initiative
James Paley Executive Director, Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven
Sarah Parmenter Senior Specialist, Community Building Program at NeighborWorks America
Leslie Radcliffe New Haven Civilian Review Board member, NHS of New Haven Board member
Stacy Spell President, West River Neighborhood Services Corporation

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Little Known Facts About the Woman Who Inspired NeighborWorks!

Discover some little-known facts about the woman who inspired NeighborWorks

Gabrielle Sims, former community scholar | 1/6/2017 11:59:47 AM (original article featured on

A mural depicting Dorothy Richardson and local children is a prominent feature in Pittsburgh.

I recently had the opportunity to conduct research on the life of Dorothy Richardson, the guiding light for NeighborWorks America. When I started, I wasn’t expecting to learn much new about her life and what motivated her to save her Pittsburgh community. But by the end of my project, I had uncovered a lost history of a true American mover and shaker—an individual whose legacy has ensured that millions have access to the resources necessary to own their homes and build their communities. This project was far beyond what I imagined my experience with NeighborWorks America would be like and I am extremely grateful for the support I received every step of the way. 
My first encounter with the Dorothy Richardson story was at the orientation for community scholars in late May. Our orientation leader played a video showing a black housewife who banded together with other women in her community to lobby the banks to give them $750,000 to save deteriorating homes in their neighborhood. The story was interesting, but I had the feeling there were parts of it missing. I figured that information about her life was limited because most of her work was during the 1960s.
Although I was new to NeighborWorks America as a community scholar intern, there was something about the story that was so intriguing to me that I became deeply invested in learning more, beyond the bare facts. I knew Dorothy had to have done something incredible to inspire a national organization like NeighborWorks, because from my knowledge of American history, the 1960s was not an era when banks were eager to form relationships with black women, especially those living in low-income areas.
Fortunately, one of my assignments for the summer was to find out more about Dorothy Richardson because my supervisor, Bernadette Orr, agreed the story wasn’t as fleshed out as it could be. Bernadette warned me that others at the organization had tried to look into her story before, but didn’t come up with much more than we already had. With this in mind, I tailored the goals for the project so I wouldn’t be disappointed if I wasn’t able to answer the questions that really piqued my interest.

The gravestone for Dorothy's husband, Louis
Initially, I had three goals for finding out more about Dorothy Richardson: Discover her real birth date, who her husband was and what it took for this woman to establish the first Neighborhood Housing Services. (Yes, some basic facts were unknown!) 
Over a period of eight weeks, I uncovered more information about Dorothy than I expected. Every newspaper article, photograph and original document I found excited me. I began to understand how Dorothy Richardson’s work enabled a relationship with banks and learned many tidbits about her life and personality. For example, I learned that she mobilized hundreds of women in her organization, Citizens against Slum Housing, to hold sit-ins and protests. She was not at all the quiet woman she appeared to be in the pictures hanging in the NeighborWorks office. As a young, African-American woman with a deep devotion to my roots, Dorothy’s work inspired me and served as another reminder of the struggle it took for our country to come as far as it has.

Randy's colorful home
Toward the end of my time as a community scholar at NeighborWorks, my research took me to Dorothy Richardson’s neighborhood in Pittsburgh, where I interviewed people who knew her, visited her home and learned about the impact the Pittsburgh NHS has had on the community. Being on the ground in Pittsburgh made me “feel” everything that Dorothy Richardson was fighting to preserve. Randy, who owns a brightly painted home known by locals as Randyland, described how the Pittsburgh Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) helped him purchase his first home nearly 45 years ago. He told me that although he was ostracized by others throughout his life for being "white trash," Dorothy Richardson and the other women associated with the Pittsburgh NHS always treated him like family.
Although there are parts of the Northside neighborhood that are beginning to gentrify, the culture and the pride of those native to the neighborhood reign. The lesson that stuck with me after I left Pittsburgh was that Dorothy Richardson knew what is at stake if a community is lost. She knew that a community brings a sense of identity to its residents and is a place where people cultivate their dreams and raise their families. She knew these intrinsic values must be defended and was able to use the eloquence of her words and her relentless passion to evict predatory landlords from her community.
To have the opportunity to uncover the history of such an inspiring woman was an honor. So much of the African-American story requires learning more about the stories our history books leave out. In light of the contentious events currently going on in our country, I know the struggle is not over. But people like Dorothy Richardson have paved the way for women like me to be a catalyst for change.
P.S. Dorothy was born on May 30, 1922. Her husband, Louis, was a section hand on the railway before enlisting in the Air Force in December 1942, in the midst of World War II.

Monday, January 9, 2017

It's That Time of Year Again...Are You in the Mood to Buy A Home?

NHS of New Haven is committed to ensuring that each and every prospective homeowner goes into their purchase with their eyes wide open. Understanding the mortgage process, understanding your numbers, understanding everything that comes along with being a homeowner is what we teach best!

For a quick guide, check out this graphic created by NeighborWorks America. Or click on the  If you have any questions, you can reach out to any NHS staff member and we'll be happy to help!


NHS of New Haven is a NeighborWorks America chartered member. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Personal Finance Tips: All About Insurance!

With the day-to-day struggles of paying bills and setting money aside for savings, it’s easy to overlook the importance of insurance. Everyday concerns also make it difficult to recognize that the insurance you took out in the past may not be the right type for today or the future.

Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven has developed five tips to help you choose and manage your insurance needs, whether you’re a renter or homeowner:

1. Don’t let a homeowners policy “gather dust.” 
Most people obtain homeowners insurance when they buy their home, then put the policy into a drawer and forget about it. However, it’s best to review your policy every year and see if it needs to be upgraded. For example, if you’re doing a major remodeling project, such as finishing a basement, updating a kitchen or renovating a bathroom, the value of your home and property will change and thus your policy needs to be re-examined.

Choose a homeowners policy that covers 100% of the replacement cost, not only market value. Unfortunately, in some areas, older homes have a market value that is substantially below the replacement cost. Don’t be caught with an inadequate policy.

Building contractors or professional replacement-cost appraisers are a good source for obtaining an estimate for your home. Estimates from these sources should reflect your home's new features, like those mentioned above. NHS of New Haven can put you in contact with qualified professionals.

2. Buy and update renters insurance. 
Renters insurance protects the valuables inside your home whether you're living in an apartment or renting a house. If an incident such as a fire or flooding, a landlord's insurance will cover the building itself but not your own property. As with homeowners insurance, you should review the policy regularly to assure it reflects your current address and property. For example, if you do not alert your insurance company when you purchase an expensive item such as a tablet computer or piece of art, you might not be reimbursed if it is stolen later.

3. Manage your credit for the lowest insurance premium. 
 Just about everyone has heard about credit scores. However, many people aren’t aware that insurance companies calculate a person’s insurance score, and use that number to determine how much your annual homeowners insurance will cost.

Like a credit score, an insurance score takes into account your outstanding debt, the length of your credit history, whether you pay your bills on a timely basis, your number of credit accounts and any new applications for credit. The best insurance scores are assigned to individuals with long, established credit histories, a track record of on-time bill payments, low debt and few new credit accounts. NHS of New Haven offers post-purchase housing counseling and financial capability programs that help you manage and improve your credit score.

4. Look for ways to lower auto insurance costs. 
There are more than 250 million registered automobiles and light trucks in the United States, and the average vehicle age is more than 10 years. If you’re one of the millions of drivers with a car, there are ways to lower your insurance cost.

Most auto insurance companies offer reduced rates to drivers with clean records. If you haven’t had an accident in the last few years, check with your insurer and others and determine if your rate could be lowered.

Parents of children who drive know that adding their kids to the policy could push up the annual premium. But if your child successfully completed some driver-education courses, or earns good grades in school, alerting your insurance company could lower your auto insurance costs.

5. Purchase life insurance. 
Life insurance is a tough investment for many people, but if your income is essential to your family’s day-to-day life, then planning for the ultimate unexpected occurrence could be the right thing to do. Life insurance products are incredibly complicated, and according to an industry trade group, more than 100 million people in the United States are without life insurance protection.

Working with a financial coach at NHS of New Haven can help you set a budget that will help you manage all of your insurance needs.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Looking for That Perfect Last Minute Gift?

Check Everyone Off Your List This 
Holiday Season! 

Our Winter Garden Workshops* are the perfect gift for the gardener (or wannabe gardener) in your life! 

Advanced Master Gardener, Rachel Ziesk, will teach classes that will help attendees prepare their garden for the upcoming spring season.

Each individual workshop costs just $20. OR pick up the entire series for $100! 

Soil & Season Extenders -- Saturday, January 28th, 2017
The most important component for a successful garden is soil health. Learn how to make and keep your soil healthy, as well as how to use row covers and other techniques to extend your growing season.

Cool Weather Crops -- Saturday, February 11th, 2017
Learn about starting your garden as soon as the snow is gone! Cool weather crops don’t mind the cold and give you a head start on the season. This class covers how to plant cold weather crops and manage the pests and diseases that plague them.

Warm Weather Crops -- Saturday, February 25th, 2017
Everything you need to know about warm weather crops! Learn about how to make the best out of your growing season including which crops are best started indoors, what can be directly seeded into the ground and what conditions each crop prefers. This class also covers which fertilizers are best as well as common pests and diseases affecting warm weather crops.

Seed Starting & Garden Planning -- Saturday, March 4th, 2017
Start your own seedlings! This class explores how and when to start planting indoors. Learn about using lights, watering and identifying common problems with seed starting. The class also covers planning your garden so you get the most out of your gardening space. Everyone attending will get to plant a six pack of seedlings to take home with them.

Essential Flowers & Herbs for Vegetable Gardening -- Saturday, March 11th, 2017
Flowers and Herbs attract pollinators and beneficial insects to help keep your garden productive and healthy. Learn about the best flowers and herbs for your garden. This class will also identify some edible weeds and tell you what you need to know in order to protect your garden from invasive ones.

Preserving your Garden Harvest -- Saturday, March 25th, 2017
Learn how you can eat from your garden all winter long. Simple methods can save your harvest for winter use. The class will cover techniques that you’ll need to know for freezing, canning, dehydrating, pickling and more.

For more information on each class, or to register for the series, visit:

*This Program is a cooperative effort of NHS of New Haven, Common Ground, UConn Extension, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, and the Risk Management Agency/USDA. These institutions are equal opportunity employers and providers.

Friday, December 16, 2016

NeighborWorks America Post: Helping Consumers Avoid Pitfalls of Payday Loans

Nonprofits Can Help Consumers Avoid Pitfalls of Payday Loans 

Originally posted on NeighborWorks' site. 
Written by Marietta Rodriguez, Vice President of National Homeownership Programs | 5/16/2016 

Payday loans are bad deals for consumers. That's why NeighborWorks is excited to see that Google announced it would no longer accept ads from payday lenders. These ads attracted financially troubled consumers and trapped them in unexpectedly long-term bad deals for short-term money.

Traditional lenders don't often offer short-term, low-balance loans people may need to cover a financial emergency in a pinch. There are lots of people who have little or no emergency savings to pay for a car that suddenly breaks down, or to replace an appliance that quits the proverbial "one day after the warranty expires." But payday loans are actually anchors that can drag consumers into a sea of debt - not stabilize their financial boat.

NeighborWorks consumer financial surveyA 2016 survey from NeighborWorks America found that more than 28 percent of adults have no emergency savings to cover these sudden costs. The Consumer Federation of America and Pew Charitable Trusts released similar results. That's one reason that payday and title loans are used so frequently. These loans often seem affordable, but when looked at closely, their costs are outrageous.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, a $15 fee for a $100 payday loan carries an annual interest rate of nearly 400 percent. And most payday loans are not for $100 but rather for $300 or more. When they are due in two weeks or less, in full, recipients must continue to borrow to pay other loans. What's more, borrowers incur overdraft and bounced-check fees when lenders run their post-dated checks through the system.

In April, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief Richard Cordray said the agency continues to prepare regulations for the payday lending market. These regulations are likely to incorporate an ability-to-repay principle.

The convenience of these products masks their costs, and consumers who are cash-strapped could easily see these loans as the best solution to the question: How do I get money right now? However, there is a better solution than these high-cost products, and it starts with better information and better planning. That's where financial capability coaching and counseling come in.

Managing finances orange graphic with calculator, envelope and notebookFinancial capability counseling — often provided free or at very low cost — is an approach that combines financial education, counseling and coaching. Tax season is a great time to start this kind of program and implement strategies that maximize monthly cash flow, set a savings plan and minimize the risk of needing one of these high-cost loans.

The trouble is, not enough people are aware of the availability of financial capability services, especially from nonprofit organizations like those affiliated with NeighborWorks.

In a 2015 NeighborWorks America survey, three-quarters of adults said they were unaware of free or low-cost services like financial coaching in their communities. We have to make more people aware of these services because financial capability coaching and counseling works. A project spearheaded by NeighborWorks America found that more than half of clients who didn't have savings before working with a coach or counselor had set aside a median amount of $668 after coaching. That amount goes a long way toward establishing an emergency fund. Importantly, the interaction also had a positive effect on people who already were savers. The median increase in savings for these clients was more than $900. In short, working with a financial coach or counselor helps people prepare for unexpected financial emergencies, enabling them to better avoid high-cost lending products such as payday and title loans, or the need to get their tax refund now instead of waiting a few days.

The centerpiece of financial capability counseling is looking ahead. A great first step in setting personal financial goals — whether they be allocating money for emergencies, developing a strategy to start a business or saving for college education — is to retain a financial capability counselor. It's easier to avoid payday and other high-cost lending traps if you're looking ahead.