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ambassadors for cities

Mayors and REALTORS: Working Together to Promote Housing for All

// The United States Conference of Mayors and the National Association of REALTORS (NAR)
partnered in 2003 to create the Ambassadors for Cities Program. The goal of this partnership is to bring together
mayors and REALTORS, at the local level, to create initiatives that promote homeownership and affordable housing
opportunities for all segments of the market.

The Ambassadors for Cities Program highlights innovative, successful, and effective solutions that local
REALTORS and mayors use to promote housing opportunities. These innovative partnerships can be shared with, and
replicated by, other REALTOR associations, cities, and the broader public. Cities that are designated as an Ambassador
City hold a public event to highlight the success reached through their public/private partnership(s)its strategy, the
significant role of the REALTORS, and coalitions built to support the initiativeas well as to provide an opportunity
to carry on further dialogue to create more local housing opportunities.

Alexandria, Virginia
Affordable Homeownership/Workforce Housing and
Foreclosure Prevention Outreach Initiative
Mayor William D. Euille has long been a long-standing advocate for
homeownership and a financial sponsor of the City of Alexandrias
annual Homeownership Fair. The City joined with the Northern
Virginia Association of REALTORS (NVAR) to address three
different areas of affordable housing. This partnership began with
outreach to low- and moderate-income Alexandrians through NVARs
participation in the Homeownership Fair, which presented an
opportunity for NVAR members to provide guidance and expertise to
potential first-time homebuyers who either live or work in Alexandria.
In addition, NVAR partnered with City housing staff to organize a
homebuyers seminar targeted specifically to employees of the City and
Alexandria City Public Schools. The event was designed to educate
employees on local real estate market conditions, home loan process,
and to provide information on the many forms of assistance offered
by the City of Alexandria to its employees and introduce them to the

benefits and services of REALTORS and lenders.

The most recent partnership between the City of Alexandria
and NVAR focused on the current crisis in home foreclosures. The
City and NVAR organized a foreclosure prevention seminar designed
to ensure that home purchase is sustainable for area homebuyers and
to ensure homeowners awareness of counseling and intervention
services. One of the outreach tools used to promote this seminar
and to provide an overview of the foreclosure issue was podcasting.
The City and NVAR worked together to produce a video podcast
designed to reach new audiences. The podcast described the scope of
the foreclosure crisis and resources available to prevent foreclosure.

The partnership has allowed the City of Alexandria to reach
new audiences and new sources of talent in providing educational
opportunities on a range of topics from home purchase financing
to foreclosure prevention. Participating real estate agents, lenders,
and attorneys have expressed their appreciation for the opportunity
to present to City audiences and have overwhelmingly indicated an
interest in continuing the relationship.

ambassadors for cities

Allentown, Pennsylvania
Hometown Heroes
The Hometown Heroes program was created through a partnership
between the City of Allentown and the Lehigh Valley Association
of REALTORS and promotes homeownership opportunities for
Allentowns police officers, firefighters, and emergency services
personnel. The goal is to provide need-based financial and homebuyer
education assistance to these heroes to purchase a principal residence
in the City of Allentown. These heroes provide protection to
individuals and families in the communities they service, and the
Hometown Heroes program is a way for the City and REALTORS
to give back by providing them an opportunity to make the American
dream of homeownership a reality.

Lehigh Valley REALTORS, through their partnership
with the City, intend to establish a funding source through donations
and other means which will be made available to Heroes (through an

application and approval process) who are early on in their careers and
are first-time homebuyers. This ongoing effort will be implemented
in phases: the first phase targeted toward police officers, firefighters,
and emergency services personnel, then eventually made available
to teachers, nurses, veterans, municipal employees, and others as the
demand deems necessary. In addition to his personal involvement
and full support, Mayor Edward Pawlowski has agreed to commit key
staff to create and implement the Hometown Heroes program, and
the City also plans to continue financially supporting down-payment
and closing cost assistance to qualifying households as well as housing
inspection and residential faade grant programs.

With increased homeownership among these heroes, the
City expects safer communities; improved community relations
among heroes, City officials, and the public; a higher retention rate;
and an increased desire for heroes to live in the City where they
protect and serve.

Asheville, North Carolina

Mayors Affordable Housing Task Force
In 2006 Mayor Terry Bellamy proposed and created the Mayors
Affordable Housing Task Force to tackle the overwhelming issue
of insufficient affordable/workforce housing in the area. The
task force includes many organizations and individuals who have
worked for several years to increase and improve affordable housing
opportunities. Together they created the Affordable Housing Plan for
the City of Asheville.

The Affordable Housing Plan includes several multifaceted
recommendations: incentives for affordable housing; redevelopment
of public housing; a free tax preparation collaborative; an employerassisted housing collaborative; affordable housing public awareness
and media campaign; and zoning changes, among others. In addition,
the City of Asheville also contracted with Pisgah Legal Services to

conduct committee meetings, research topics, draft the plan, and

present it to the City Council.

Based on the theory of give enough to make a difference, in
2007 the Board of Directors of the Asheville Board of REALTORS
voted in favor of donating $20,000 to the Affordable Housing
Coalition of Asheville and Buncombe County (AHCABC) to create
a partnership with this very beneficial organization.

The Ambassadors Award will be used to launch the Faces of
Affordable Housing, a media campaign using in-kind contributions
and donated services from radio, newspaper, billboards, local
television, cable, e-newsletters, and employer-sponsored payroll

The Faces of Affordable Housing campaign will strive to
personalize the need for affordable housing and the real people from
the community who need affordable places to live.

FOR MORE INFORMATION // www.usmayors.org/ambassadors



// The goal of the Ambassadors for Cities program is to highlight successful

private/public partnerships that will serve as models
to other communities around the United States.

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Creating a Credit Responsible Community
The City of Bowling Green has a long tradition of community
involvement and public-private partnerships which help achieve
many goals. Since first taking office in 2005, Mayor Walker has
championed homeownership programs, and in this regard, the mayor,
together with the Citys Housing Assistance and Development
Services (HANDS) and the REALTORS Association of Southern
Kentucky, joined with lenders, nonprofits, and others to develop the
Creating a Credit Responsible Community program. The project
is multifaceted, but of particular interest to the mayor and the
REALTORS is the need to increase homeownership rates in the city
at a time when many may feel it is not a good time to enter the market.

In addition to getting the message out to first-time
homebuyers, this program encourages not only pre-credit counseling
but also post-purchase counseling to ensure that homebuyers stay in
their homes once purchased.

The program has garnered media attention, and the
planned Super Saturday program will enable the city to reach a large
number of potential first-time buyers and new homeowners. With
several financial literacy programs and the capable involvement of
REALTORS, the goal is to get first-time buyers into homes, taking
advantage of very low rates.

This partnership between the mayor and the REALTORS
is an example of people working together to increase homeownership
and home retention in the City.

Orange County, California

Public Officials 101
Public Officials 101 will serve as the capstone of a workforce housing
initiative to educate municipal leaders on policies that will ensure
increased workforce housing opportunities for residents of Orange
County. The initiative will provide the mayors, council members,
and city managers of Orange County a direct and thorough tutorial
encompassing the state of local housing and the tools available for
these officials to use, through either policy or partnerships, to develop
workforce housing within their cities.

In 2007, the Orange County Business Council (OCBC)
released the Workforce Housing Scorecard, a research study on the
state of the local housing market and its effect on economic growth
and the quality of life in Orange Countys cities. The report found

numerous cities had an insufficient supply of housing units despite

the countys overall strong economic growth. Further, the report
illustrated the lack of affordability for the majority of the countys
workforce. Public Officials 101 seeks to address the findings of this
research and to promote positive changes at the policy level within the
cities of Orange County.

The Ambassadors designation will assist OCBC and the
Orange County Association of REALTORS, as well as public
partners, to create greater quality programming, enhance marketing
materials, and support Web-based education efforts to increase
resources for elected officials; provide a greater understanding of best
practices in developing affordable housing that is environmentally
sustainable and economically viable; and address community needs to
provide affordable housing in Orange County.

ambassadors for cities

Richmond, Virginia
Mayors Interagency Task Force on Community Infrastructure
To meet the diverse housing challenges of the City of Richmond,
Mayor Wilders task force was charged with five primary tasks: one,
conduct a thorough analysis of the Citys permits and inspections
processes; two, draft new mixed-use zoning ordinances to encourage
mixed-income neighborhoods; three, draft an affordable dwelling
unit ordinance; four, establish an affordable housing trust fund; and
five, coordinate a pilot project on land owned by the public housing
authority in which a mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood is
developed where once a housing project stood.

From this task force developed the Partnership for
Workforce Homes, a housing non-profit organization founded and
managed by the Richmond Association of REALTORS (RAR),
dedicated to ensuring that an adequate supply of affordable workforce
housing is a public policy priority. RAR also created the online

Workforce Housing/Finance Locator. Members of the public can log

on, enter information about themselves (income, homeless or not,
dependents or not, etc.) and receive a list of the housing nonprofits
and loan programs that will best help them meet their housing needs.

The Workforce Housing/Financing Locator is available at
www.homes.richmond.com. Mayor Wilder has agreed to put the sites
icon on the desktop of every public computer in every public library
in the city and to hold a press conference to promote the tool and the
ease with which it will put people with housing needs in contact with
those who can best help them address their unique situation.

The Ambassadors for Cities designation will provide muchneeded and always-welcome public awareness to the mayors and
the REALTORS associations efforts to address the multifaceted,
complex challenge of housing affordability. This public attention
will enable the City and the REALTORS not only to highlight the
challenge, but the approaches they are taking to address the issue.


Mayors, city officials, and REALTORS know the importance of a

Mayors can also partner with their REALTORS to:

strong housing stock that serves all sectors of the market. Housing

Create public/private partnerships

opportunities can be created in a variety of ways, including:

Form a citywide housing coalition with universities, nonprofits,

Educating homebuyers

Educating the public about the need for housing

Creating a down-payment assistance program for municipal

and employers

Conduct a forum to collaborate on affordable housing


employees and first-time homebuyers

Establish a housing trust fund

Conducting an advertisement campaign highlighting available

Create a Web site with financial resources for consumers

housing programs in the community

Hold a tour of affordable housing opportunities in the



Raise money to sponsor the construction of a new home

For more information on the program, or to apply to be recognized

Host a homebuyer fair

as an Ambassador City, please visit our Web sites:

Conduct brownbag homebuying workshops over the lunch





Rehabilitate homes for disabled or elderly people

Sponsor a walk/run to raise money for affordable housing