Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Defining US....the many roles of the Trust: Featuring CHDO

People often ask what the Preservation Trust of Spartanburg is, what we do, etc. As staff, it is sometimes difficult to deliver this in a nice, neat packaged one-liner. Do we share our mission? Do we include "bricks and mortar" in the explanation? Do we focus on our work in neighborhoods? What about our architectural salvage arm? How about the affordability side of our organization--even though the federal funds dwindle more and more every year, we still get a small amount of HOME funds. To receive these, we have to maintain status as a CHDO (Community Housing Development Organization) with our PJ (Participating Jurisdiction, aka, City of Spartanburg). It is a lot of acronyms to digest, but being a CHDO is important to us. HUD document 24 CFR Part 92.2 defines the roles and responsibilities of a CHDO:

Community housing development organization means a private nonprofit organization that: (1) Is organized under State or local laws; (2) Has no part of its net earnings inuring to the benefit of any member, founder, contributor, or individual; (3) Is neither controlled by, nor under the direction of, individuals or entities seeking to derive profit or gain from the organization. A community housing development organization may be sponsored or created by a for-profit entity, but: (i) The for-profit entity may not be an entity whose primary purpose is the development or management of housing, such as a builder, developer, or real estate management firm. (ii) The for-profit entity may not have the right to appoint more than one-third of the membership of the organization's governing body. Board members appointed by the for-profit entity may not appoint the remaining two-thirds of the board members; and (iii) The community housing development organization must be free to contract for goods and services from vendors of its own choosing; (4) Has a tax exemption ruling from the Internal Revenue Service under section 501(c) (3) or (4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 CFR 1.501(c)(3)-1); (5) Does not include a public body (including the participating jurisdiction). An organization that is State or locally chartered may qualify as a community housing development organization; however, the State or local government may not have the right to appoint more than one-third of the membership of the organization's governing body and no more than one-third of the board members may be public officials or employees of the participating jurisdiction or State recipient. Board members appointed by the State or local government may not appoint the remaining two-thirds of the board members; (6) Has standards of financial accountability that conform to 24 CFR 84.21, ``Standards for Financial Management Systems;'' (7) Has among its purposes the provision of decent housing that is affordable to low-income and moderate-income persons, as evidenced in its charter, articles of incorporation, resolutions or by-laws; [[Page 578]] (8) Maintains accountability to low-income community residents by: (i) Maintaining at least one-third of its governing board's membership for residents of low-income neighborhoods, other low-income community residents, or elected representative of low-income neighborhood organizations. For urban areas, ``community'' may be a neighborhood or neighborhoods, city, county or metropolitan area; for rural areas, it may be a neighborhood or neighborhoods, town, village, county, or multi-county area (but not the entire State); and (ii) Providing a formal process for low-income program beneficiaries to advise the organization in its decisions regarding the design, siting, development, and management of affordable housing; (9) Has a demonstrated capacity for carrying out activities assisted with HOME funds. An organization may satisfy this requirement by hiring experienced key staff members who have successfully completed similar projects, or a consultant with the same type of experience and a plan to train appropriate key staff members of the organization; and (10) Has a history of serving the community within which housing to be assisted with HOME funds is to be located. In general, an organization must be able to show one year of serving the community before HOME funds are reserved for the organization. However, a newly created organization formed by local churches, service organizations or neighborhood organizations may meet this requirement by demonstrating that its parent organization has at least a year of serving the community.

Working for a non-profit organization isn't just about giving back to the community. It is about accountability, managing board members, and advocating for change. Sometimes the last role is the hardest, especially if you wear many hats or incorporate all those pesky acronyms into defining your organization.

We like to think the Preservation Trust of Spartanburg is one-of-a-kind...not because we are singular to Spartanburg or have an all-female staff, but because we have never met another organization like our own. We are seeking that....non-profit, bricks and mortar, historic preservation developers that work in designated city or urban neighborhoods, are certified CHDOs, have a salvage operation, and do owner-occupied rehabilitation projects. Are you out there? If so, please write to us!

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