Saturday, July 31, 2010

Support Your Local CDC--They May Support You

There's always talk about big government grants, and how the money creates programs in local areas for home owners and buyers, but talking about HUD, or the Department of Justice, without mentioning CDC's and CAA's is like talking about the circulatory system while only mentioning the heart, and dissing the blood vessels.

What are CDC's and CAA's? They are community development corporations and community action agencies, the direct conduits of federal aid to homeowners, home buyers, and sometimes, small businesses. When the feds want to aid city neighborhoods or rural areas, they often give grants to these agencies, and these agencies create programs that help city neighborhoods, counties, or multicounty areas. And they can help you, too, if you happen to live within the boundaries of these areas.

Community development corporations are private, nonprofit organizations that often have downpayment assistance programs for first-time home buyers, and loan (often) or grants (rarely) to repair or improve homes. They often offerthese with mandatory counseling programs that better prepare buyers to manage the new place. They may also offer small loans for businesses within their boundaries.

Community action agenies were created as part of the Great Society programs of the 1960s to directly aid the poor. They offer all sorts of help to low-income people within their jurisdictions; these may include weatherproofing, energy assistance, home buying downpayment assistance, home repair help, job training, individual development accounts, job training, business loans, programs for seniors, and more. Income levels to
qualify for programs may vary.

How do you find a CDC in your area? Check with the National Congress for Community Development's website for the state association of CDC's in your
area. Also, check with your city or county's Department of Development or Neighborhoods. For CAA's, check the national directory. Here's an important caveat: the money available depends on whether they have it at this particular time. Federal agencies often give money in a lump sum, and it lasts runs out. When they can, the CDCs apply for more money, but if the appropriations don't come through, they can't come through for you. Always check with your local corporation for funding availability.

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