Housing Opportunity

West Central Minnesota REALTORS® Help to House the Homeless

The REALTORS® of West Central Minnesota believe it’s important for everyone to have a home, and that doesn’t always mean homeownership. Late in 2016, the 398-member board received a Housing Opportunity Grant that it used to partner with the Southwest Minnesota Continuum of Care (CoC), a clearinghouse of resources and aid for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Thanks to a new system the grant has been promoting, a total of 72 new households have been established in the region, including at least 16 with school-age children.

It all began, says Sue Blumhoefer, Chief Executive Officer of the West Central Association of REALTORS® (WCAR), when one of its members, who serves on the board of the Southwest Minnesota Continuum of Care (CoC), wondered if there was a REALTOR® Party grant that could help support the work of the regional aid organization. Blumhoefer investigated, and met with the CoC to determine how possible funding assistance from the REALTORS® could best meet its needs. With guidance from Christine Berger, the Minnesota REALTORS®‘ Vice President of Political Affairs, and the staff at NAR, WCAR applied for and received a Housing Opportunity Grant to promote and help implement the CoC’s new Coordinated Entry System.

This initiative, explains Blumhoefer, streamlines, standardizes, and shares information among the 20 separate agencies within the Southwest Minnesota CoC, which spans 18 different counties. “When a person or family is homeless or about to become homeless, they receive an intake assessment to be considered for all potential housing assistance from all CoC agencies. This will keep clients from having to go from agency to agency seeking help and having to go through a different assessment at each one. It also helps to match clients with the most appropriate assistance based on their level of need.”

The Housing Opportunity Grant, together with a contribution from WCAR, was put to work informing the public in the region about the new Coordinated Entry System. A new website, posters, and brochures in four languages, newspaper and billboard advertising, and a radio spot recorded by WCAR’s President Ann Anderson, got the word out:  to date, the combined efforts of WCAR and the Southwest Continuum of Care have helped create 72 stable households for clients in a previous state of homelessness. The funding from the REALTORS® also supported a training event for those performing the new assessments, and provided starter kits for clients, containing Walmart gift cards for basic household supplies.

“This means stability for those housed, which means better school outcomes for the kids, better chances at finding work, and generally better health outcomes,” says Blumhoefer, noting that, “Ultimately, the goal is the get them to a point where they will be strong enough to move to homeownership.”

One 19-year old who was assessed by the new program had been couch-hopping, spending nights in Walmart and Cashwise, and was housed in a hotel a couple of times.   He recently received keys to his own apartment, and with his gift card, was able to buy a shower curtain, garbage can, dish soap, broom/dustpan, bathroom rug, cooking pot, paper goods, and an oven mitt.  “How awesome is it to know we helped from day one with the program used to qualify him, and then, made sure he had some basics to set up a home,” says Blumhoefer.

Now that it’s in place, the system the Housing Opportunity Grant helped fund will continue to help those in need in the 18-county area, and the REALTORS® are maintaining an ongoing partnership with the CoC, sponsoring community immunization fairs and a cell phone drive for senior clients.  Says Blumhoefer, “We definitely couldn’t have done this without the grant from NAR!”

To learn more about how the West Central Association of REALTORS® is working to get all its neighbors into stable housing situations, contact Chief Executive Officer Sue Blumhoefer at 320-235-6881.

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Partnership Spurs Diversity for the Grosse Pointe REALTORS®

Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at a high school in the affluent, nearly all-white Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe, Michigan. At the anniversary event this March memorializing King’s “The Other America” speech, the Grosse Pointe Board of REALTORS® (GPBR) will be among many in the community marking Grosse Pointe’s progress toward diversification and social equality. It will also be a time to provide thinking about what remains to be done.

According to Bob Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of the almost 1,000-member board, this is not an interest that gets dusted off for special occasions, just as Fair Housing is not something that the board saves for the month of April. “Promoting diversity and equal opportunity is a mindset. We’ve internalized it, so that it impacts all our decisions and  thinking,” he says.  He credits an exceptionally engaged and focused Fair Housing & Diversity Committee, led for four years by Ursel Mayo, with bringing about this change.  Supported by a Board of Directors led this year by Lori Jaglois and last year by Mario Como, Fair Housing & Diversity are part of the board’s daily consciousness.

“We wanted to have constructive conversation, provide insight, and eliminate ‘if we’re talking about Fair Housing it must be April’ thinking,” explains Jaglois. “Consequently, we no longer have ‘Fair Housing Month’ recognition. Instead, there’s a dedicated “Fair Housing” component at each of our four yearly membership meetings.” GPBR offers the NAR’s “At Home With Diversity” certification class annually, in the past using REALTOR® Party Diversity Initiative Grants to keep the cost down. Jaglois is proud to note that attendance is always robust: the last class, taught by Mayo, had upwards of 40 participants. Twice in the last four years, GPBR also offered the REALTOR® Party’s “Leading With Diversity” program. Most recently, the Detroit Association of REALTORS® was a co-host, with Fred Underwood from the National Association of REALTORS® and Dr. Agustin V. Arbulu, the Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, co- presenting.

A new GPBR initiative called “All in for Diversity” available to members for a small contribution, allows those who want to bolster funding specifically for diversity projects to do so. In 2017, the board partnered with the Grosse Pointe Public School System to produce a calendar celebrating diversity as seen through the eyes of the community’s K-12 school children. The project generated more than sixty submissions, thirteen of which the GPBR jury selected to feature on the handsomely produced calendar. It was offered for sale to the membership and to families in the school system, with all proceeds going to the schools for further diversity efforts.

Rebecca Fannon, a representative of the Grosse Pointe Public School System, can’t say enough about the REALTORS®‘ involvement in strengthening the community: “The Grosse Pointe Board of REALTORS® has been an amazing partner with the school system over the years, promoting the area with community open houses, and assisting in projects coordinated by the local Chamber of Commerce. The Diversity Calendar project took this partnership one step further. Our school system was honored to participate, and so grateful that the proceeds from the calendar sales were donated to continued implementation of the district’s diversity initiatives outlined in our Strategic Plan.”

GPBR has close ties with the Detroit chapter of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, and plans to begin working with them, and other diversity groups in the area, to strengthen efforts that support diversity and inclusion. “If we can share resources like Placemaking Grants and Housing Opportunity training with groups that share our interests, then that moves everybody forward,” says Taylor.

In 2017, Ursel Mayo, a long time member of the GPBR’s Board of Directors, was selected to be President-elect for 2018, the first African American to hold that position.  Is that because the Board wanted a person of color at the forefront?  “I don’t believe color had anything to do with the decision” says Taylor.  “The Board of Directors felt she was the very best person for the job, and she happens to be African-American.” Our goal is to seek those who are most passionate about serving our members, and encourage them to be in leadership.  President Jaglois, herself a tremendous leader, urged Ursel to consider the role.  We are extremely fortunate to have this kind of thoughtful and focused leadership.  It’s the reason this board is making a difference in Grosse Pointe — and beyond.”

To learn more about how the REALTORS® of Grosse Pointe, Michigan are taking a leadership role in promoting diversity in their community, contact Chief Executive Officer Bob Taylor, at 313-882-8000 x3.

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Housing Opportunity Training Sponsors

Give your members an edge in their business and help them become leaders in their communities.

The Employer-Assisted Housing and Expanding Housing Opportunities classes are organized and held by authorized sponsors. Organizations that are eligible to become sponsors include REALTOR® Associations and boards; NAR Institutes, Societies, or Councils; multicultural real estate organizations; real estate training schools and companies; and brokerage firms.

Sponsors may offer these classes an unlimited number of times during their sponsor term.

Questions? Contact Wendy Penn at 202-383-7504 or Holly Moskerintz at 202-383-1157.

Resources for Housing Opportunity Training Sponsors

Employer-Assisted Housing (EAH) Sponsor Resources

Authorized EAH instructors
Sponsor Responsibilities & Administration 
Class Notification Form
Class Roster
Student Evaluation Form
Customizable Marketing Flier
Student Certificate: Simply enter the student’s name and print out
CE Credit Outline – Use this document to apply for CE Credit for the EAH Class. 
CE Credit Test – May be required in some states.

Expanding Housing Opportunities (EHO) Sponsor Resources

Authorized EHO Instructors 
EHO Sponsor Guide
Class Description 
Class Notification Form 
Student Evaluation Form 
Class Roster 
EHO CE Credit Outline Option 1 
 EHO CE Credit Outline Option 2
CE Credit Test – May be required in some states.

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NAR supports cost-effective approaches towards preventing and ending homelessness. The individuals and families that are housing insecure or currently experiencing homelessness can be helped through evidence-based approaches, such as “housing first,” which prioritizes providing permanent housing as quickly as possible then providing supportive services as needed. NAR urges its state and local REALTOR® Associations to work with community stakeholders to develop innovative and proactive strategies to aid citizens experiencing homelessness or facing housing insecurity. Adopted May 2016

REALTOR® Success Stories

Hawaii REALTORS® Look to Create Housing Opportunities for the Homeless
Austin REALTORS® Accept Mayor’s Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness 

NAR’s Housing For All Symposium (2016)

Housing For All brought together NAR and the affordable housing community to address homelessness and housing affordability. Speakers included representatives from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, Center for American Progress, National Low Income Housing Coalition, NeighborWorks America and other leaders. Attendees discussed effective affordable housing solutions; shared innovative ideas, partnerships and experiences; and formulated plans of action for their communities. Housing For All built on NAR’s policy that urges state and local REALTOR® Associations to work with community stakeholders to develop innovative and proactive strategies to aid citizens experiencing homelessness or facing housing insecurity.Housing For All Agenda

Federal Resources

  • U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
    The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness is responsible for coordinating the federal response to homelessness across government and providing leadership for activities to assist homeless families and individuals with the goal of preventing and ending homelessness in the nation. Some agencies include:
  • The Department of Health and Human Services
    The Department of Health and Human Services is the United States government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and supporting the delivery of essential human services.
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
    The Department of Housing and Urban Development funds a range of programs managed by local organizations to help the homeless, including shelter, food, counseling, and jobs skills programs.
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
    The Department of Veterans Affairs offers a wide array of special programs and initiatives specifically designed to help homeless veterans live as self-sufficiently and independently as possible.
  • Department of Labor
    The Department of Labor administers programs providing employment and training services that are crucial components in the comprehensive efforts to address the cycle of homelessness.
  • Department of Education
    The Department of Education supports a program that supports the coordination of the education of homeless children and youths in each state and gathers comprehensive information about homeless children and youths and the impediments they must overcome to regularly attend school.
  • Social Security Administration
    The Social Security Administration’s mission is to advance the economic security of the nation’s people through compassionate and vigilant leadership in shaping and managing America’s Social Security programs.
  • White House
    The White House has spearheaded the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to alleviate the poverty made worse by the current economic crisis. Broad investments also include $1.5 billion in Homelessness Prevention Funds to keep people in their homes or rapidly relocate them.

National Organizations


Questions? Contact Wendy Penn at 202-383-7504.

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Community Outreach Webinars

Housing Opportunity Webinars

In partnership with National Housing Conference (NHC), Housing Opportunity webinars are designed to educate the REALTORS®  about affordable housing issues, policies and programs, and to help REALTORS® be better able to engage in the affordable housing issues in their communities.

Questions? Contact Wendy Penn at 202-383-7504.

Paycheck to Paycheck 2015
This free webinar demonstration of the National Housing Conference’s online, interactive Paycheck to Paycheck database. Paycheck to Paycheck uses data from the first quarter of 2015 to examine the gap between wages and the housing costs, both rental and ownership, in 208 U.S. metro areas. The webinar will also include a discussion of key findings from the 2015 Paycheck to Paycheck report, which focused on the housing affordability challenges of workers in occupations commonly filled by millennials. 

Back to School: Making the Link Between Housing and Education
This webinar described the key links between housing and education and highlighted ways people are working to improve educational outcomes for children through housing and community development policies and programs.

Housing Counseling and Returning Home Buyers
Navigating the housing market and preparing financially for homeownership can be a daunting process, not only for those new to the housing market, but especially for previous homeowners who have experienced a foreclosure or were negatively affected in the housing market downtown.  Housing counseling is an effective tool to help people financially prepare to buy a home or re-enter the housing market after a foreclosure, providing advice to potential homebuyers on repairing or protecting their credit and assisting them in preparing for mortgage application, budget planning, and foreclosure prevention.

Local Affordable Housing Policymaking and Advocacy
Key affordable housing resources available from the National Housing Conference (NHC) and the Center for Housing Policy were discussed using real-world examples. Panelists discussed how these resources can be used to document and describe local affordable housing challenges, to communicate persuasively about housing needs, to identify promising local affordable housing solutions and to present affordable housing strategies to local stakeholders.

Housing and Older Adults
Experts in the area of housing and older adults presented on housing needs of the growing older adult population, livable communities policies that address the safety and quality of neighborhoods, and programs that combine housing and services to enable aging in place. 


Placemaking Webinars

The Placemaking Webinar Series provides more in depth information on the various types of Placemaking and how REALTORS® are involved in Placemaking activities in their communities.

Questions? Contact Holly Moskerintz at 202-383-1157.

REALTORS® Engage in Placemaking
Looking to become engaged in a placemaking project in your neighborhood but just don’t know what to do or where to begin?  Wondering what placemaking is all about and why it matters to REALTORS®? Learn how four local REALTOR® Associations used Placemaking Grants to build projects in their community. Association staff and REALTORS® will tell us about their projects; how they and their partners were engaged in the projects; and the outcomes and benefits not only to the community and REALTOR® brand. Please note that at about 49 minutes in there is an audio pause of about 1 minute.  The webinar is not over.

Make your Community a More Walkable Place
Walkable communities—a community in which residents can get to grocery stores, shops, schools, work, cafes, and parks by walking, biking or taking public transit—are becoming the latest trend in real estate. REALTORS® need to be aware of how walkable communities may affect their business and the future of real estate. Get the details on what makes a great walkable community; walkability’s impact on real estate; the demand for walkable communities; Walk Scores and MLS; and one community’s strategy to become more walkable. 

REALTORS® in Action
The Placemaking Grant has been up and running for almost two years and we have approved over $300,000 in projects in over 30 states. Many of these projects have been completed and the communities, as well as the REALTOR® Associations who have worked on these placemaking projects, are seeing outcomes. Join us to hear about the placemaking projects four local REALTOR® Associations participated in including a description of their project; involvement of the association, members and partners; and outcomes and community responses. You just may get an idea for a placemaking project in your community.

Reactivating Vacant Properties into Community Spaces
Is your community faced with blighted and vacant properties that are disrupting the neighborhood’s sense of community and lowering property values?  This webinar focuses on how to address vacant properties, specifically vacant lots.  After a brief overview of vacant properties and the negative impact on a community, you will hear from several organizations on how they are transforming vacant and abandoned lots into community open spaces and vibrant gathering places.  

Streets as Places
Streets make up more than 80 percent of the public space in our downtowns and no public space works harder than our streets.  But, streets and sidewalks need to do more than just move cars. They need to be designed to meet the needs of people and create great places where people meet, sit, socialize, relax, wander about, play and more. Find out how to transform the streets and sidewalks in your community into great places with a variety of tools including street painting, parklets, plazas, block parties, seating and other activities. 

Community Outreach Leads to Commercial Revitalization
Discover how engaging communities in downtown revitalization can lead to leasing/sales of vacant buildings and other positive impacts on commercial real estate development. Targeted efforts involving REALTOR® Associations, REALTORS® and community organizations, including how a Better Block event, a Main Street® planning approach and a tour of vacant properties have resulted in positive economic changes and are strengthening communities. 

Revitalizing with Main Street®
Main Street® is a unique economic development tool that enables communities to revitalize downtown and neighborhood business districts by leveraging local assets. This approach focuses on traditional commercial districts in a community and can help address vacant properties and other revitalization challenges. Get an overview of Main Street® and hear from REALTORS® who have initiated a Main Street® program in their communities to help revitalize their downtowns.  

How to Build a Better Block
Learn the ins and outs of a Build a Better Block project which involves a group of community stakeholders and volunteers organizing and making visible changes to a place over a day or two such as cleaning up litter, planting flowers, installing benches, and maybe launching temporary businesses called pop-ups in vacant storefronts. 

Lighter, Quicker Cheaper
Find out how to take small, incremental, low cost steps to quickly turn your community’s vision into reality and build momentum for further improvements.” Lighter Quicker Cheaper is an approach involving several small projects in a neighborhood where, taken together, will make the neighborhood a better place to live, work and play. These hands-on projects can be proposed and finished in months or weeks.

Smart Growth Webinars

Public/Private Partnerships: Complete Streets & Large-Scale Development Webinar
Private development projects and large-scale land use programs can play an important role in creating new, healthy, and equitable Complete Streets. How can developers use healthy and Complete Streets design principles and public/private partnerships to achieve community goals? And what are the opportunities and challenges public and private partners face? The Public/Private Partnerships: Complete Streets & Large-Scale Development webinar hosted by National Complete Streets Coalition and co-hosted by the National Association of REALTORS®. 

Download the PDF of the presentation

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REALTORS® in Ottumwa, Iowa Help Bring Life Back to Their Downtown

“The vision became real – if only for a short time – and we saw what it would be like to bring our Main Street back to life.” 

Those were the words of Steve Campbell, an Ottumwa, Iowa, REALTOR® from who spearheaded his board’s involvement in a highly successful Better Block Project in his home town.

  • One of the giant “wheatpastings” of an image from renowned Ottumwa Photographer Michael Lemberger’s collection of more than 1.5 million photographs.
  • Ottumwa Better Block Poster
    Ottumwa Better Block Poster
  • Sign outside the old theatre announcing the upcoming Better Block Party in Downtown Ottumwa
    Sign outside the old theatre announcing the upcoming Better Block Party in Downtown Ottumwa
  • The block party concluded with a live concert in the abandoned Ottumwa Theater.

With a $15,000 REALTOR® Party Smart Growth Action Grant, money of their own, elbow grease and lots of enthusiasm, the South East Iowa Regional Board of REALTORS® partnered with the Better Block Foundation and other community leaders to host the Main Street Ottumwa Better Block Party, October 12-15.

“Overnight, our quiet and struggling downtown commercial area became what it was always meant to be,” Campbell says.  “It became a place to come together to shop, eat, play games, enjoy some music and even dance!

He says that one of the highlights is to see the old Ottumwa Theatre that had been abandoned for years come to life with a live concert on the final evening of the block party.  Watch this video of the concert in the old Ottumwa Theatre:

The weekend event in this hilly city straddling the Des Moines River, included pop-up shops, food trucks, a temporary bike lane from downtown to the river, outdoor dining and games.  It ended with a live concert in the long-abandoned Ottumwa Theater.

The day before the event, more than 120 volunteers, including REALTORS®, got to work setting up, stringing lights, painting the bike lane, installing landscaping, building signs and more.

The event even included a tribute to the late Michael Lemberger, a renowned photographer from Ottumwa, whose collection of 1.5 million photographs was recently donated to the University of Iowa.  Several of the buildings along Main Street were adorned with giant “wheatpastings” of his black-and-white photos featuring everyday life in rural America.

The Start of Something Good

“It’s just the beginning, but it’s a good one,” explains Campbell, who recently finished serving his second term as president of the 400-member regional board, which was organized in 2015 by consolidating eight smaller boards.

“The great thing about the Better Block Team is that they help you see what could be in a tangible way,” Campbell says.  “Yes, the block party is over, but the inspiration to continue rebuilding our downtown area is alive and well.

This year’s President Carla McEntee adds, “We are so proud to be a part of this wonderful downtown revitalization project in Ottumwa. Our members understand the importance of volunteerism, and this effort is extremely gratifying for all of us.”

The Process

Jamie Rix, the Government Affairs Director for the Iowa Association of REALTORS®, worked with the board to obtain the Smart Growth Action Grant, which helped to pay for event expenses; as well as consulting and guidance from the Better Block Team to help transform the weekend experience into an actual planning tool.

The Better Block team visited Ottumwa last July and met with more than 50 local groups and individuals to discuss how best to apply the Better Block process to the 300 block of Downtown Ottumwa. The focus from the start was on public art, health, transportation and economic development. Better Block also conducted a survey of community members on how to improve Downtown Ottumwa quickly and from the ground-up.

“It was just a good fit to bring the REALTOR® Party funding and the Better Block Project together in Ottumwa,” Rix says.  “That city has so much potential, and the weekend event made that clear to so many people.

The Better Block project is building on what the “Main Street Iowa Program” has been doing in Ottumwa for the last 10 years.

“Main Street Iowa is a program dedicated to preserving and revitalizing the unique identity, assets and character of historic commercial districts in more than 50 towns across Iowa,” explains Main Street Ottumwa Executive Director Fred Zesiger.

Ottumwa’s Main Street District has 134 buildings, of which 41 are vacant on the first floor. There also are 57 historic buildings along three blocks of Main Street, 26 of which are vacant on the first floor.

Revitalization by Main Street Ottumwa so far has included rehabbing alleyways, putting on new building facades and restoring 49 apartments over the street level shops—all of which are occupied today.

Zesiger says the effort in Ottumwa is successful because it’s a collaborative effort.  The Smart Growth Action Grant was a match for a National Endowment for the Arts Grant received by Main Street Ottumwa. “When we can put our money, skills and dedication together, great things happen.”

More than Just Good for Business

Campbell stresses that the whole project has been especially uplifting for his board.  “I am convinced this project has “REALTORS®” written all over it! Being a part of the grassroots movement to breathe life back into a depreciated commercial/residential area is a challenge worth the effort…and the best part is yet to come!” Campbell says.

“As real estate professionals,” he continues, “we care deeply about bringing our downtown back.  It’s not only good for business, it’s just plain good for everyone.”

For more information about the South East Iowa Regional Board of REALTORS® work with the community to revitalize Ottumwa’s Main Street District, contact Jamie Rix, REALTOR® Party Advocacy Coordinator for the Iowa Association of REALTORS® at 515-309-9348 (ext. 348).

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Employer-Assisted Housing Class

Note: The Employer-Assisted Housing (EAH) and Expanding Housing Opportunities (EHO) onsite classes will be discontinued in 2019. EHO will continue to be available as an online course through REALTOR® University.For 2018, class sponsors need to submit an EAH or EHO class notification form to NAR by October 1. Classes can be held through December 31, 2018.

The Employer-Assisted Housing (EAH) class is a unique opportunity to expand your business by working with local employers to help their employees become homeowners or afford a home close to work. The four-hour EAH class presents an overview of employer-assisted housing, including the three EAH benefit options employers can implement with your assistance:

  • Homebuyer & Homeownership Education
    REALTORS® conduct homebuyer and homeownership workshops at the workplace in partnership with a non-profit organization and/or lender. When employees learn about the homebuying process and that they may be able to purchase a new home, new markets of opportunity open for you.
  • One-on-One Counseling
    REALTORS® create relationships with local housing non-profit organizations who can offer counseling to employees either at the workplace or off-site.
  • Financial Assistance 
    REALTORS® and their partners review the variety of financial assistance options to purchase a home with the employer that they can offer their employees

The EAH Class also teaches participants how to form an action plan to implement an EAH program locally. The action plan includes conducting research on a community; creating a team with lenders and non-profit housing organizations; identifying and contacting employers; and meeting with the employer. Tools and resources are presented for each step and include letter templates to the employer, lender and non-profit, a homebuyer workshop template and a customizable brochure for employers.

Employer-Assisted Housing Resources

Earn RCE Points

By taking the EAH Class, you may be able to expand your client base; gain referrals; increase your name recognition; and strengthen & revitalize your community. You can also earn 3 RCE points toward your RCE designation by attending the EAH Class.

*Please note that the video was produced when the EAH class was called Home From Work™, which is now licensed by Fannie Mae.


Questions? Contact Holly Moskerintz at 202-383-1157.

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Florida REALTORS® Give the State’s Most Vulnerable a Legislative Voice

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a nine-minute video must be…priceless.   But in Florida, the 170,000-member REALTOR® Association is putting a value on ‘priceless,’ one vulnerable household at a time.  Using a Level 3 Housing Opportunity Grant, Florida REALTORS® created a compelling video to convince state legislators to fund Florida’s Affordable Housing Trust Funds at the maximum levels.

The idea for the video came up in discussion with other nonprofits that join Florida REALTORS® in lobbying, year after year, for full funding of the Affordable Housing Trust Funds, says Cheryl Lambert, Florida REALTORS®‘ Secretary and Immediate Past Chair of the Attainable/Workforce Housing Committee.  “We were all used to sitting down and explaining to people how important these programs are, but that only gets you so far. And then I said, ‘It would be great if we could just show them the difference these programs make in people’s lives!'” 

With guidance from NAR staff, Florida REALTORS® applied for and received a Housing Opportunity Grant of $15,000.  “The level of thought required by the application was significant, but worthwhile,” says Danielle Scoggins, Senior Public Policy Representative of Florida REALTORS® and author of the grant application. “With a project this complex, it’s better to have all the planning done on the front end.”    

To find individuals to appear in the video, Florida REALTORS® tapped their 25-member Attainable/Workforce Housing Committee.  “We got them all together on a conference call, and said, ‘We’re looking for folks who’ve benefitted from the state’s affordable housing programs, who’ll be willing to share their stories with the legislature,'” recalls Scoggins.  Committee members got to work and after a careful selection process, followed by scheduling, filming, and editing, the final video will be presented to state legislators this September as they begin to prepare for next session. 

The video features an introduction by the Director for Housing and Community Development in the City of West Palm Beach, who emphasizes that the various programs made possible by Florida’s State and Local Government Housing Trust Funds serve the state’s most vulnerable populations: those experiencing homelessness, the elderly, and veterans. Then come the stories, from different regions, highlighting different populations and the success of several different affordable housing programs.  There’s an older woman from West Palm Beach who lived in her car for two months, in poor health but holding down a job, before she was helped into a stable home by one of the programs.  A young woman who lost her mother and her home at age 19, becoming solely responsible for six younger siblings as well as an infant of her own, credits another state program with helping her to stabilize her family through the purchase of a home; she is now an officer on the Tallahassee police force.  A U.S. Army veteran from Clearwater tells of her heartbreaking inability to find an affordable apartment after she divorced from her husband; elderly residents of a state-subsidized senior residence in Hernando, one of them a former REALTOR®, share stories of retirement savings eaten up by medical bills.     

“I can’t watch the video without crying,” confesses Scoggins.  “It puts a human face on these issues, and will certainly help our state legislators understand the powerful impact of these programs on real citizens—their constituents—around the state.” 

The first completed segment of the project was unveiled at the 2016 Florida Housing Conference.  The final video will complete the larger advocacy project that the association will be rolling out for state legislators this September: a major Affordable Housing Economic Impact Study commissioned by Florida REALTORS®, and a set of one-page infographics customized for each of the one hundred and sixty legislative districts in the state.  Members of Florida REALTORS®‘ energetic Key Contact program, which teams a REALTOR® member with each of the state’s 120 Representatives and 40 Senators, will be sharing the materials with their assigned legislators.  The video, which will be made public in the near future, will send a powerful message to those making decisions about funding the state’s Affordable Housing Trust Funds.

To learn more about how the REALTOR® Party is supporting Florida REALTORS®‘ advocacy to secure affordable housing for the state’s most vulnerable populations, contact Senior Public Policy Representative Danielle Scoggins, at 850-224-1400 x2504.

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Scottsdale Area REALTORS® Fight Restrictive Proposed Sign Ordinance, Gain Respect and Goodwill

When a Supreme Court decision denied the constitutionality of a sign ordinance in Gilbert, Arizona, two years ago, a number of other municipalities throughout the country began nervously reviewing their own.  In a climate in which some cities were even receiving threatening letters from the Goldwater Institute over the issue, says Suzanne Brown, Director of Community & Government Affairs for the Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS® (SAAR), the city of Scottsdale hurriedly drafted a new one-size-fits-all ordinance that lumped signs for real estate listings in together with those advertising yard sales and political campaigns.  With a well-timed Call for Action, and a Land Use Initiative review provided by the REALTOR® Party, the REALTORS® helped the city see reason.

The reactive draft proposed by the city’s Planning and Zoning department simply didn’t work for the real estate industry, explains SAAR CEO Rebecca Grossman.  For one thing, it sought to restrict the number of post-and-panel sign ‘occurrences’ and ‘activities’ permitted at any given property in a calendar year; it would also have imposed problematic setback requirements for all yard signs.  “Here in Scottsdale, where many of our structures were built right up along the original dirt roads, a 15′-setback from the curb would put ‘For Sale’ signs in many people’s living rooms!” she points out. 

Although the threat didn’t show up on the radar of most Scottsdale citizens, or even that of City Council members, Grossman notes that, “When we hear the City Council say, ‘We’re looking at sign ordinances,’ REALTORS® need to pay attention.  We needed to be part of the process, and, in fact, we needed to be insistent about it.” 

The REALTORS® reviewed the first draft of the ordinance, and then requested revisions.  The City Council met them half-way.  Refusing to budge any further, the council added the slightly revised language to an upcoming agenda for a vote.  SAAR immediately issued a Call for Action to its 8,000 members; the nearly 500 resulting letters got the attention of the City Council.  The proposal was pulled from the agenda and returned to the Planning and Zoning department for further review. Followed by council members and city staff reaching out to the REALTORS® to discuss the ongoing concerns.

Within days, SAAR had applied for and received a REALTOR® Party Land Use Initiative Grant, and within about two weeks, the analysis provided by Robinson & Cole, the firm retained by NAR to review land use legislation, became a key resource as the city reconsidered the draft ordinance.  The process had evolved into a productive collaboration, explains Grossman, in which the REALTORS®‘ contribution was clearly valued by the city.  “The Robinson & Cole report, citing existing case law protecting signage, clearly substantiated the REALTORS®‘ position.  At the end of the day, we were able to give the city the information it needed to protect homeownership rights.”  The analysis was also a powerful defense of the broader Scottsdale economy, adds Brown:  “We received grateful feedback from the city’s own Economic Development department, which conceded that it hadn’t understood the full impact of the proposed ordinance on local economic growth.” 

Within short order, a new ordinance governing temporary signs was passed unanimously by the Scottsdale City Council, reflecting all that the REALTORS® had requested.  Grossman and Brown can’t say enough about the level of service that SAAR received from the team at the REALTOR® Party and at Robinson & Cole.  “The respect that a report like this commands is incredible,” says Brown, “and I don’t know how else a local association would be able to gain this kind of expertise, especially within the tight time frames we often face.  In Arizona, in particular, this issue is bound to be coming up in other municipalities.  With this REALTOR® Party resource available, they have nothing to fear.” 

To learn more about how the Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS® is working with its municipal government to guide the best possible legislation for real estate professionals, the community, and the local economy, contact CEO Rebecca Grossman or Suzanne Brown, Director of Community & Government Affairs, at 480-945-2651.

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Housing Opportunity Resources

Guides, Publications, and Information

Homelessness Resources
A collection of resources and information to assist associations with their efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness.

Ambassadors for Cites: Affordable City Living
A PDF publication featuring examples of public/private partnerships between REALTORS® and cities.

Employer-Assisted Housing Guide  
The guide provides a roadmap for your association to plan and implement an EAH initiative to help increase affordable housing opportunities for working families in your community.

Establishing a Charitable Foundation
A field guide providing information on tax and legal issues related to foundations, fundraising ideas, useful websites and more.

Inclusionary Zoning
A field guide providing background information on inclusionary zoning, case studies, considerations in developing inclusionary zoning and more.

Housing Opportunity Toolkit
A collection of resources and information for both individual REALTORS® and REALTOR® Associations.

Workforce Housing Forum Guide
The Workforce Housing Forum Guide: A Strategy for Outreach and Advocacy outlines how to plan and conduct a workforce housing forum to identify and develop strategies to address a community’s workforce housing needs.

Research and Surveys

Housing Pulse Surveys
The Housing Pulse Survey is a telephone survey of between 1,000 to 2,000 adults, nationwide is designed to assist NAR in gaining information on consumers’ attitudes and concerns about housing opportunities.


Questions? Contact Wendy Penn at 202-383-7504.

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