COMMENTARY: NCALL marks 40 years of housing, community development

From modest beginnings in 1976, the National Council on Agricultural Life and Labor (NCALL) grew to be a nationally recognized leader in affordable housing, serving the Delmarva Region with significant scale and impact. The vision of NCALL heroes such as Jeanine Kleimo, Jim McGiffin, Karen Speakman, Roland Ridgeway and many others guided this Dover-based nonprofit in its quest to address housing and community development needs.

Housing affects thousands of families seeking to own a home or rent an apartment that meets their needs and is affordable to their income. Poverty, homelessness, and substandard conditions exist, and the issue of “affordability” is a challenge for many. Delaware faces housing problems, as foreclosures disrupt households (now No. 1 in the nation), homeless children attend each of our school districts, the American Dream of homeownership eludes many, our rental market is oversubscribed, and major affordability gaps exist for renting and owning in each county.

Delaware is now the 12th-most expensive state for housing. Many labor classifications do not earn enough to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. Emergency shelters and transitional housing are full, and waiting lists for subsidized apartments are long. Many are in the midst of a housing crisis.

Joe L. Myer

Joe L. Myer

NCALL builds bridges with families in need of improved housing by bringing federal, state, and private financing to the table, and fortifying it with financial education, counseling, and coaching. Whether it be financing to develop and preserve apartments; gap and down-payment assistance for homeownership; lending for community facilities, housing efforts, and revitalization; foreclosure prevention and mediation to help save homes; implementation of the Restoring Central Dover downtown revitalization plan; or advocating for self-help housing regionally, NCALL strives to be a catalyst for achieving and sustaining affordable housing and improved communities.

NCALL has become a trusted friend by providing financial education, training, and coaching so families can be informed consumers in our “buyers beware” society. Households end up with the best rates, terms, and experience possible when buying a first home or achieving a financial goal. The combination of access to financing and the empowering education greatly increase the opportunity for sustained success.

NCALL is a chartered NeighborWorks America organization with an “Exemplary” rating, and is a top-tier producer across the 250-organization national network. Uniquely, NCALL is also a Community Development Financial Institution certified by the U.S. Treasury to lend for housing and community development work throughout Delmarva.

Results from NCALL’s board and staff are plentiful:

1) 8,035 first-time homebuyers achieved the American Dream of homeownership with over $1 billion leveraged in attractive mortgages.

2) Fifty-five apartment communities have been built or redeveloped serving very-low-income families and elderly throughout Delmarva.

3) 1,091 families saved their homes from foreclosure since 2007.

4) 3,224 people received financial coaching through $tand by ME in Kent and Sussex counties since 2012, achieving their financial goals.

5) $93 million has been lent for affordable housing, community facilities, and revitalization, creating 797 units, 285 special-needs beds, and 317,000 square feet of health clinics, charter schools, and community centers.

6) Self-help housing grantees in the 21-state northeast region received quality technical and management assistance and training.

7) Led the Restoring Central Dover revitalization effort coordinating work groups for housing, safety, youth and adult services, resident engagement, economic development, and transportation and recreation.

These numbers speak to the scale and breadth of NCALL’s impact, but they don’t share the inspiring success stories attributable to our customers. Every family and every organization has a unique housing journey that we all can learn from. A decent, safe, affordable place to call home is critical in order for families and elderly to survive, thrive, and prosper because housing impacts all aspects of our lives. Take a moment to remember your housing journey and what that has meant to you.

NCALL did not achieve these results alone. A collaborative spirit results in partners such as USDA Rural Development, Delaware State Housing Authority, NeighborWorks America, and many foundations and banks help to resource NCALL’s work. Contributors and investors make this work possible.

Our most important partnership is with the families and nonprofits we serve, and the borrowers we lend to. NCALL regularly teams up with others “doing together what we can’t do alone.”

Using the accepted 7-to-1 economic impact multiplier for affordable housing, NCALL’s work leveraging $1.38 billion has contributed a cumulative $9.6 billion to our economy. As a growing employer, NCALL provides quality jobs, comparable wages, important benefits, and professional development.

The experiment 40 years ago to see if a knowledgeable nonprofit could make a difference has proven its value in many ways, and through thousands of lives touched each year.

If you have a housing need, call us at 678-9400 and visit us at

EDITOR’S NOTE: Joe L. Myer is executive director of NCALL Research Inc.

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