Ally Highlight: Community Frameworks
Network Allies are sponsors, advocates, and fellow nonprofits that don’t directly run a permanent affordable housing program (PAH) or community land trust themselves, but share a commitment to permanent affordable housing and community development. We spotlight Allies to show our partners working toward stable, thriving communities and to highlight the vital services they can provide to member CLTs and PAH programs.
Thank you to Mike Greenberg for this article on Community Frameworks. Please feel free to contact Mike with any questions about Community Frameworks or SHOP funding.
Cornerstone at a Glance
|Ally: Community Frameworks
Service Area: Pacific Northwest
Mission: Support and develop affordable housing as a foundation upon which individuals, families and neighborhoods can build vital communities
Services for CLTs and other affordable housing developers: affordable rental and homeownership opportunities, homeownership education, housing and community development services for other organizations, and pass-through lending through HUD’s Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program
|CASA of Oregon
Homestead Community Land Trust
Home Trust of Skagit
Housing Resources Board
Kittitas Yakima Valley Community Land Trust
Kulshan Community Land Trust
Lopez Community Land Trust
Of People and Land Community Land Trust (OPAL CLT)
San Juan Community Home Trust
Saratoga Community Housing
SHARE Community Land Trust
Spokane Community Land Trust
The world looked very different forty years ago when Pacific Northwest housing developer, Community Frameworks, was founded. Over the course of its history, they’ve underwent many changes to meet new challenges and respond to diverse market conditions. Starting out in 1974, citizens in Spokane, Washington created the Northwest Regional Foundation (NRF) to gain a citizen voice in the use of federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money that had become available for the “betterment of communities.” With the name later modified to Northwest Regional Facilitators, NRF dedicated its efforts to “helping individuals, groups and communities overcome obstacles and seize opportunities to create their preferred futures.” By 2000, NRF’s work had divided into three major areas: Affordable Housing, Family Care Resources and Northwest Nonprofit Resources. A few years later, NRF refocused its attention to affordable housing and rebranded as Community Frameworks, spinning off its other initiatives into separate nonprofit organizations.
Community Frameworks (CF) offers services that include affordable rental and homeownership opportunities, homeownership education, housing and community development services for other organizations, and pass-through lending through HUD’s Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) to organizations producing affordable homeownership in the Pacific Northwest region (see Figure 1 pdf for more details on product and service offerings). The types of developments CF engages in are diverse, including multi-family, single family, shelters and community facilities; urban, semi-urban, and rural geographies; and new construction, rehab, refinancing, and housing preservation. CF believes that in order to be an effective consultant to others, an organization must also be engaged directly in the work itself. Therefore, CF maintains its own housing programs in the communities where its offices are located: Bremerton and Spokane, Washington. Its mission is to “support and develop affordable housing as a foundation upon which individuals, families and neighborhoods can build vital communities”.
Like the Network, CF’s roots lie in a commitment to the interplay of diverse sectors impacted by housing. Rather than compete, CF believes the most effective business strategy is to be a great partner and neighbor by filling gaps where they exist and utilizing partnerships to enhance existing housing programs and services. Therefore, becoming a CLT Network Ally was a clear next step for the organization.
Working with CLTs in the Pacific Northwest, many of whom are members of the National CLT Network (see Figure 2 for a list of organizations), CF encourages strength, diversity, and flexibility through strategic partnerships and unique program design, as well as educating the public about community land trust models and success stories. In addition to building on CLT’s stewardship by offering training and best practices on community building and efficient construction when working with multiple families simultaneously, CF also assists CLTs in navigating through state and federal programs and regulations to get to a “Yes, we can do that!” moment in funding a SHOP loan (see Figure 3 pdf for detail about how SHOP works).
Understanding the opportunities in taking a more intentional role with CLTs nationally, Christina Mejia, VP of Lending and Capacity Building at Community Frameworks said, “the CLT model creates long-term affordable housing in high cost areas, allowing for opportunities to reach previously underserved segments of the market . The sweat equity component of our SHOP program complements the CLT model by creating a labor investment when a monetary investment is out of reach, which translates into homeownership pride and commitment. As an Ally of the CLT Network, Community Frameworks is able to become better-informed regarding policy and programmatic issues specific to the CLT model, and also benefits from increased awareness among CLT organizations as to our products and service offerings. ”
The CLT Network is the go-to place for assistance with every aspect of maintaining a community land trust and permanent affordable housing. CF’s services to its CLT Affiliates complement this assistance by offering access to a valuable funding source and the ability to learn and grow together with a diverse community of self-help housing practitioners. Speaking about the nature of this relationship, Kathy Armstrong, Deputy Director of Proud Ground in Oregon, says “partnering with Community Frameworks and accessing SHOP funds enables [our organization] to achieve deeper levels of affordability for our homebuyers, which in turn significantly contributes to a home’s permanent affordability. In fact, when funders’ housing allocations fall short of what’s truly required to create an affordable home buying opportunity, SHOP funds are the difference between being able to effectively serve a homebuyer or not. [CF’s] ability to administer direct homebuyer subsidy is a wonderful complement to the Network’s technical assistance and advocacy work–it helps create a complete picture of organizational support” (see Figure 4 pdf for more testimonials).
CF became a charter member of NeighborWorks America, one of the country’s preeminent leaders in affordable housing and community development, to further engage with peer organizations around best practices, training, and collaboration.”
Similar to the Network’s library of online resources, CF’s SHOP team developed a virtual toolbox called the Affiliate Connection, including webinars, sample documents and guides, a self-help housing blog, archived meeting and conference materials, and training modules. Furthermore, CF’s staff includes people who have managed their own self-help housing programs and can teach and consult from personal experience. Becoming a CLT Ally is in many ways simply an extension of CF’s current mix of services, and the two organizations through the Ally program are part of an even broader national movement generating a singular and connected voice around resilient and responsible housing and community development.
Community Frameworks is honored to be part of the National CLT Network family.
By Mike Greenberg at Community Frameworks