ST. PAUL, MN — Two Saint Paul nonprofits dedicated to improving housing and homeownership announced their planned merger on Saturday, June 7, at a community fair jointly sponsored by the organizations. At their “It’s So Easy Being Green” fair, a NeighborWorks Week 2014 activity, Community Neighborhood Housing Services (Community NHS) and Greater Frogtown Community Development Corporation (GFCDC) unveiled their plans to merge the two organizations and operate under a new name, NeighborWorks Home Partners.
Under the planned merger, both existing office locations will be preserved. All staff and existing lines of business will be retained as well, with staff relocating to provide increased variety of services at the GFCDC offices at 533 North Dale Street. These services will include homebuyer preparation and education and foreclosure mitigation counseling. Home improvement lending and construction management services will remain at both locations as well. Some merger processes are in progress, with all transitions to be complete by October 1, 2014.
The organizations carefully approached the merger possibility and found that it was a good combination both in terms of strengthening both organizations, increasing the services that are offered, and better serving the residents of Frogtown, Saint Paul, and the surrounding metropolitan area as a whole.
Chris Albrecht, Chairperson of the Board of Directors for Community NHS, noted that the merger was an exciting opportunity for the community. “Our combined efforts will maximize the resources of both organizations, and bring more services under one roof – preserving a strong presence in Frogtown and bringing more access to residents along the Green Line for successful and stable homeownership.”
Local elected officials were present to support the work of both organizations.
Ramsey County Commissioner Janice Rettman said, “Greater Frogtown CDC’s success is the collective commitment that Frogtown residents are the key decision makers. The dedicated staff carries the message one-on-one assuring Frogtown’s resilient historic tapestry of housing and housing improvements continue.”
The Frogtown neighborhood is one of the hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis and is still feeling the impact. The merger of the two organizations will make HUD-approved housing counseling and foreclosure mitigation services more accessible within the neighborhood.
“I am excited by the fact we continue to make progress under stressful economic downturn and small businesses that were uprooted by construction of the Green Line. There is much work left to do toward full recovery, but we wouldn’t be here without the support of Frogtown CDC, and all of its partner organizations,” said City of Saint Paul Ward 1 Councilmember Dai Thao.
Included in the merger is a name change – Community NHS and eventually the combined organization will be known as NeighborWorks Home Partners. NeighborWorks is a national organization comprising 235 local affiliates. Community NHS is a NeighborWorks Chartered Member, one of the organizations formed almost 35 years ago when the national group was founded. In 2013, the NeighborWorks network generated more than $5.8 billion in total direct investment and helped 300,000 individuals and families with affordable housing and counseling.
In the governance of the combined organization, there will be 5 Board of Directors positions (of 15) reserved for residents of the Frogtown neighborhood. In addition, a resident advisory committee will be created for Frogtown residents to provide direction and input into the organization’s programming and services.
The community fair was held at the garden at the GFCDC offices and featured many neighborhood organizations partnering to provide resources and education for healthy homes and communities. Frogtown Neighborhood Association, Frogtown Farm, Frogtown-Rondo Home Fund, Youth Farm, Eureka Recycling, MN Green Building Council, Springboard for the Arts, Neighborhood Energy Connection, and Ramsey County Public Health shared information and activities on composting, gardening, keeping children safe from lead, energy efficiency, and more.
The event was part of NeighborWorks Week 2014, during which NeighborWorks organizations across the country will mobilize tens of thousands of residents, business people and government officials in a week of neighborhood change and awareness. This year NeighborWorks Week takes place from June 7 – 15 in 44 states and Puerto Rico.
About Community NHS
Community Neighborhood Housing Services (CNHS) is a community based nonprofit organization located in Saint Paul, MN. Specializing in foreclosure prevention, home improvement loans, and new homeowner education, CNHS serves the seven-county metro area with special program emphasis in the city of Saint Paul. The organization currently provides services in English and in Hmong. More information is available at www.communitynhs.org
About Greater Frogtown Community Development Corporation
Greater Frogtown CDC was created in 1995 by community stakeholders to address housing disinvestment, deteriorating conditions, and vacant lots. Since 1995, GFCDC has brought more than $50 million in investment in home improvement loans and grants, single family housing development, affordable rental housing, and multi-family housing. http://greaterfrogtowncdc.org/