NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ, September 17, 2014 – Today, Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) announced the selection of New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) as one of three winners in the 2014 Wells Fargo NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance. NJCC will receive $2.25 million to expand ReStart, its groundbreaking initiative to prevent foreclosures, rehabilitate vacant homes, and stabilize communities. The award recognizes ReStart as a model for preserving and expanding affordable housing in the communities that have been hit hardest by the housing crisis.
NJCC, a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), launched ReStart in 2012 to leverage private capital to purchase discounted pools of underwater mortgages. NJCC then modifies the mortgages to an affordable level of principal, offering individualized counseling to the impacted homeowners. NJCC also converts vacant properties in the pools into new affordable for-sale and rental housing.
To date, ReStart has forgiven over $16 million in principal to distressed homeowners, protecting them from foreclosure. With its NEXT Award, NJCC will expand ReStart to 200 homeowners in New Jersey, which has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation, and will repurpose 200 vacant properties into affordable homes.
“Stable and affordable housing is the foundation of healthy communities,” said Wayne Meyer, President of NJCC. “ReStart both prevents displacement and repairs already-vacant housing units at a meaningful scale. This NEXT Award is both a tremendous honor and a testament to ReStart’s value as a tool for spurring large-scale recovery in communities that continue to struggle through the ongoing housing crisis.”
The NEXT Awards is the nation’s largest awards program recognizing CDFIs that work in bold, new ways to expand coverage of responsible financial products and services in their communities. This year, the NEXT Awards, presented by OFN with the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, focuses on CDFIs with innovative strategies addressing the Future of Housing Finance.
“NJCC’s innovative ReStart program exemplifies the creativity that CDFIs apply every day to solve many of the critical issues that plague our nation’s most distressed communities. ,” said Mark Pinsky, President and CEO of OFN, the nation’s leading national network of high-performing CDFIs. “It’s also a highly replicable and scalable model that offers the potential for widespread, meaningful impact in the low-wealth, low-income, and disadvantaged communities that CDFIs serve.”
CDFIs are private financial institutions that are 100 percent dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable lending to help low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged people and communities join the economic mainstream.
The NEXT Awards will celebrate NJCC and the two other 2014 NEXT Opportunity Awardees—Florida Community Loan Fund, and Rural Community Assistance Corporation—in an awards ceremony at the OFN Conference in Denver, CO, on October 15.
About New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC)
NJCC is a 26-year-old nonprofit CDFI that provides innovative financing and technical assistance to critical community development efforts that strengthen neighborhoods and support low-and-moderate income populations. Since inception, NJCC has invested $436 million in projects across New Jersey, resulting in the creation or preservation of 12,900 education seats, 8,100 housing units, 6,200 early care spaces, and 5,800 jobs.
About the Awards
The Wells Fargo NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance celebrate the CDFI industry—its creativity, accomplishments, and enduring importance.
Launched in 2007, the NEXT Awards have celebrated the innovation of the nation’s most promising CDFIs by awarding more than $58 million through a competitive awards process over the last seven years.
It is the nation’s largest awards program for CDFIs and in 2014 it will award $8.35 million dollars through two award pools—The NEXT Opportunity Award and the NEXT Seed Capital Award—to high-performing CDFIs to expand their coverage strategies related to the Future of Housing Finance. Each year the NEXT Awards culminates in a ceremony at OFN’s Annual Conference to spotlight Awardees and the entire CDFI industry.
About the Groups Behind the Awards
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.6 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 9,000 locations, 12,500 ATMs, and the internet (wellsfargo.com), and has offices in 36 countries to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 265,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 29 on Fortune’s 2014 rankings of America’s largest corporations. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy all our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Wells Fargo perspectives are also available at Wells Fargo Blogs and Wells Fargo Stories.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. MacArthur has been a leading supporter of the Opportunity Finance field since the early 1980s, investing nearly $250 million in approximately 100 groups nationwide. More information is available at: www.macfound.org.
About Opportunity Finance Network (OFN): OFN, the leading network of private financial institutions, creates growth that is good for communities, investors, individuals, and the economy. Members of OFN are community development financial institutions (CDFIs) that deliver responsible lending to help low-wealth and low- income communities join the economic mainstream. Through 2012, OFN’s Network originated more than $33.3 billion in financing in urban, rural, and Native communities, and financed development/rehab of 960,000 housing units, started or expanded nearly 94,000 business and microenterprises, and helped create or maintain nearly 600,000 jobs. More information is available at: www.ofn.org