Trellis and NeighborWorks America: a history of enduring partnership and collaboration

NeighborWorks America (NWA) helps build strong, resilient communities by providing people with opportunities to live in safe, healthy and affordable housing, whether they own or rent. They do this by directly supporting a network of more than 240 nonprofit organizations in the affordable housing and community development field every year. Their vision is for America to be a nation of vibrant communities all are proud to call home.

The evolution of NWA

NWA began its evolution in the 70s. The Federal Home Loan Bank Board’s Center for Executive Development (CED) started workshops in 1970 in Pittsburgh, Boston, New Jersey and DC to provide forums for City governments, lending institutions and residents of deteriorating neighborhoods to identify possible approaches to prevent neighborhood decay and serve their mutual interests. One such approach was the Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) concept that had been developed in Pittsburgh in 1968 when Dorothy Richardson led her neighbors in the Central North Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh to fight back against community decay. “The solution was not to tear down the whole neighborhood, but to fix the houses,” she said.

CED further studied, refined and developed this model into a program to help groups in other cities to form partnerships to deal with neighborhood deterioration. Their success and growing interest in the NHS program led to a federal interagency agreement in 1974 creating the Urban Reinvestment Task Force, a demonstration project to assist cities to improve the quality of urban life through neighborhood preservation. By 1976, the Task Force had 14 staff, and there were Neighborhood Housing Services in 45 cities. In late 1978 Congress changed the Task Force into a public corporation, Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (NRC) which receives an annual appropriation from Congress. Today, NRC does business as NeighborWorks America.

Trellis begins

In 1975, Neighborhood Housing Services of Phoenix (NHSP) was among the first of NHS organizations. Thanks to the idea brought back from a national conference by Councilman Calvin Goode, NHSP organized with a mission to revitalize Phoenix neighborhoods.  With $100,000 from NRC and $300,000 from the City of Phoenix, NHSP began to operate a high-risk rehab loan fund in the Coronado neighborhood, working closely with residents and Code Enforcement to identify and rehab offending properties.

In 1995, NHSP officially was designated a charter member of NWA. With the launch of NWA’s NeighborWorks Campaign for Home Ownership, NHSP became a HomeOwnership Center (HOC) in 1999, among 110 across the country. As a HOC, NHSP (now Trellis) provides a one-stop shop for all services: counseling, education, full-cycle lending and real estate.

The partnership

This partnership between NWA and Trellis, has only strengthened over the last 40 years.  NWA has continuously supported Trellis with financial contributions, training and technical assistance and has consistently rated Trellis as “exemplary” in their annual program review process.

As our 40th anniversary RUBY sponsor, we express our sincere gratitude to NeighborWorks America – for their generous support, their visionary leadership and their passionate dedication to drive change at the local level for individuals, families and communities.