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NAR, FANNIE MAE FOUNDATION ANNOUNCE "PARTNERS IN HOUSING" AWARDS

 HONOLULU, Nov. 16 ~PRNewswire~ -- The first round of grants hav e been selected for the "Partners in Housing" awards program, a joint initiative sponsored by the National Association of Realtors and the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) Foundation. The program supports the efforts of state associations and local boards of Realtors working with non-profit organizations to address low- and moderate-income housing problems.
 The award recipients, selected by members of NAR's Committee on Housing Needs and representatives of the Fannie Mae Foundation, were announced here during NAR's 85th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition. Nearly 20,000 members and guests are attending the convention.
 Each recipient will receive a $5,000 grant from the Fannie Mae Foundation. To be eligible for the award, the non-profit organization must be nominated by its Realtor partner. Applications from the following boards and associations were selected for awards: the Lexington Board of Realtors in Lexington, Ky.; Greater Madison Board of Realtors in Madison, Wis.; Seattle-King County Association of Realtors in Kirkland, Wash.; Venice Area Board of Realtors in Venice, Fla.; and Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors in Harrisburg, Pa.
 The Fannie Mae Foundation is providing up to $50,000 for the initial 12-month period of the program, to fund grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 each. The remaining $25,000 left for the current funding period will be awarded in a second round of grants, expected to be announced next February.
 Alan Yassky, chairman of the Committee on Housing Needs, explained that the program encourages state associations and local boards of realtors to work with other groups to solve housing problems in their communities. "It gives our members an incentive to get involved," he said. "Decent, affordable housing continues to be out of reach for some households. Realtors see this everyday. With their housing expertise, they can offer people a boost up the housing ladder and give them a stake in their community."
 Harriet Ivy, executive director of the Fannie Mae Foundation, said the recent awards signaled the beginning of a "very important, very worthy" initiative. "A prime foundation goal is to work in partnership with national, state and local organizations to address our nation's low-income housing problems," she said. "We salute the five NAR boards and associations for establishing these significant partnerships, and we are pleased to provide grants to their respective non-profit partners."
 The programs can involve a variety of housing initiatives, such as below-market rate mortgages, home buying counseling, or unit rehabilitation or construction. The awards are based on the degree of board or association involvement in the housing program, the ability of the realtor-non-profit partnership to address a particular aspect of the affordable housing problem in the community, the need for financial assistance, and the suitability of the project to serve as a role model for other associations and boards of realtors.
 A description of the grant recipients and their programs follows:
 -- The 1,211-member Lexington Board of Realtors established its own Housing Foundation with $10,000 in seed money provided by the board. The board works with the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity. Board members also donate commissions to Virginia Place, a transitional living and learning environment for unemployed or underemployed single parents. The Housing Foundation provides labor for painting and repair work on low-income housing and homes for the elderly. Grant money will be used to coordinate construction of a Habitat for Humanity house, and help fund a full-time staff person to manage the foundation.
 -- The Greater Madison Board of Realtors, with 1,239 members, has a partner organization, the Greater Madison Housing Foundation. The foundation provides loans to nonprofit developers of housing for low- and moderate-income households. It also runs a program offering direct loans to low- and moderate-income households to use toward the down payment or closing costs on a home purchase. The grant money will be used to expand the foundation's activities to include acquisition and rehabilitation of a property, which subsequently will be sold to a low- or moderate-income buyer.
 -- The Seattle-King Association of Realtors, with 4,952 members, works with Common Ground. Common Ground provides technical assistance to neighborhood nonprofit groups, social service agencies, church groups and other entities to increase the stock of affordable housing in the Puget Sound area. Realtors identify and secure site control of suitable properties, locate appropriate funding sources, prepare applications and negotiate contracts, and help manage the construction or rehabilitation of homes. Grant money will be used to help provide homes for the disabled.
 -- The 458-member Venice Area Board of Realtors has a partnership with the Royal Venice Affordable Housing Group. The group makes below-market rate, fixed-rate loans to first-time buyers with incomes below the county median income. The loans are used to help make down payments and pay closing costs. Board members raise money to capitalize the loan fund, locate properties, work with families who qualify to participate in the program, reduce or waive their commissions and provide administrative support for the program. Grant money will be used to provide more loans for the program.
 -- The Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors, with 1,173 members, works with Delta Housing, Inc. Delta provides housing, job training and counseling for homeless families. The families pay rent according to their income and ability to pay. The board has set up its own charitable foundation and has provided $22,000 to the organization. Grant money will be used toward the purchase and rehabilitation of an additional facility for Delta to expand its services.
 The National Association of Realtors, "The Voice for Real Estate," is the nation's largest trade association, representing nearly 750,000 members involved in all aspects of the real estate industry.
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 CONTACT: Trisha Morris, 202-383-7560, or Scott Sherwood, 202-383-1016, both of the National Association of Realtors CO: NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS; FANNIE MAE
 FOUNDATION


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