NeighborWorks is a nonprofit organization located in Pocatello, Idaho. It was previously known as Pocatello Neighborhood Housing Services. They are funded by federal grants from the NeighborWorks American fund. This fund allocates funds that are to be reinvested in the community to sponsor programs such as community development and affordable housing. They also provide training and resources within the community and are dedicated to improving the lives of people who live there.

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Community revitalization is the main purpose of NeighborWorks. Their database connects construction and rehabilitation contractors, sellers, lenders, provides homebuyer education, credit counseling, and lawn and garden tool lending. They provided assistance with down payment and closing costs, rehabilitation loans for existing homeowners, and other services related to constructing and selling new homes. NeighborWorks believes that home ownership is good for communities, families, and the local economy. Home ownership contributes to the city tax base and the equity in their home provides a source of wealth for families (NeighborWorks.org).

The project in which I participated involved using the NeighborWorks app, traveling to homes in various states of repair, and taking pictures. The houses were rated based on their condition and loaded into the database. This project is the backbone of the NeighborWorks program. Students were able to get hands on experience in the field, gaining a deeper understanding of what it is like to work on a project like this on a daily basis. Seeing how the program works on an up close and personal basis, provided a deeper understanding of the importance of the project to the community and the people who live there.

This project is not only for the poor in Pocatello, but it is targeted towards the moderate to low income brackets in the Pocatello area. The project helps existing homeowners maintain their property. Many times, homeowners will buy a home during good times and then as the years go by, they will fall on hard times. As a result, the condition of the home begins to deteriorate. This causes housing values to decline, not only for that property, but for neighboring properties as well. This creates a lower tax base and declining wealth due to the equity lost. As these conditions grow, those with higher incomes begin to move away and the neighborhood begins to attract a different type of resident. This program helps to prevent the economic, physical, and social decline of the neighborhood by providing homeowners the funds to maintain their homes.

The NeighborWorks program helps to draw people into the area by providing them with additional funds and assistance in finding and purchasing homes in the area. Many times, traditional lenders will not assist with repairs to a home. This is where NeighborWorks can fill in the gap. NeighborWorks helps to fill in the gap between the traditional housing market and those who need just a little assistance to keep things moving in the right direction. Gaining hands-on experience in the field with NeighborWorks allowed students who participated in the program to see first-hand how the community benefits from this program. Students got to see the local projects that had been funded in the past, as well as before and after pictures of the properties. NeighborWorks is a valuable program for improving communities and making them a desirable place to work and live.

    References
  • NeighborWorks Pocatello. Services. 2014. Web. 1 December 2014.