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Aug 31, 2022

A Surprising Source of Leveraged Dollars

Sponsored Content provided by JC Lyle - Executive Director, Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry

In the nonprofit world, leveraging resources is critical to our success. We identify funding opportunities and other types of support that can be used to attract even more resources and make every dollar go further. Leveraging requires us to build meaningful partnerships and persistently piece together the support needed to help each family. 
PHOTO CAPTION: At 75 years of age, Mildred still works part time to pay for the downtown bungalow she purchased 13 years ago. Exterior repairs made by WARM volunteers will help keep her in the home throughout her golden years.

Examples include:

  • Brunswick County Commissioners award $20,000 in matching local funds to help WARM secure $100,000 in state funds to be used only in Brunswick County.
  • WARM raises funds that are used to purchase plumbing supplies and students in Cape Fear Community College’s plumbing program complete the critical repairs while gaining real world experience.
  • WARM’s paid staff organizes volunteers that serve 20,000-30,000 hours every year, the equivalent of 10-14 additional fulltime people. 
These examples of leveraging are typical of what can be found throughout the nonprofit sector. Nonprofit leaders are creative and tenacious, constantly building bridges between needs and resources. 

We naturally think of leveraging resources from grant sources, volunteers, and fundraising proceeds to help the people in need of our services.  
However, WARM’s mission receives leverage from a surprising source – the very people we exist to serve! 

That’s right. To qualify for services, WARM homeowners are required to have owned and occupied their home for three years or more. In other words, they bring their own equity to the table, usually tens of thousands of dollars they’ve invested in their home. In fact, 50-60% of WARM homeowners have no mortgage. 

My favorite definition of leverage is power. 

Families have power when they own real estate. They have choices. Keeping families of low wealth in the homes they purchased on their own is key to getting them out of poverty

On a community-wide scale, contributions to WARM are used to leverage the resources of these homeowners and protect affordable housing that families have purchased on their own. 

In New Hanover County alone, in 2022 WARM has invested more than $440,000 to help preserve 46 homes with tax values totaling over $7.1 million dollars – a 1514% return on investment!  

In addition, these homes are scattered throughout the county in market rate subdivisions, not clustered together in concentrated poverty.  Scattered site affordable housing is prohibitively expensive for developers to build per unit than multifamily and is not eligible for most government incentives. The entire county gains important resources when families retain existing affordable housing.

Here’s why that’s so important. Our community is in serious trouble. 

We have a severe shortage of homes that are affordable to people on fixed incomes and people working in hospitality, public service, health care, construction, and other industries critical to a strong local economy. This impacts their spending in other areas and, even worse, can cause these important workers to move away, worsening the labor shortage. 

Powerful WARM homeowners to the rescue! 

They bring important leverage to help attract substantial grants, contracts, and donations from funders all over the state as well as hard-working volunteers from all over the country. By pooling all these resources, we can preserve quality affordable housing throughout the region. Now that is exceptional leverage!
 

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