JPMorgan Chase & Co. pledged $110,000 last week to a local public-private partnership to battle blight in Monroe and boost the dreams of aspiring homeowners.

The funds will support a partnership of the Mount Pleasant Community Development Corp., the Southern University Economic Development Administration and the city of Monroe’s Planning and Urban Development Department.

Together the project’s partners will launch a 2-year pilot program focused on building a pipeline of affordable housing developers, who will build houses to serve first-time homebuyers in Monroe.

“Homeownership is critical to a vibrant community and to the future of our city,” said Ellen Hill, head of Planning and Urban Development for the City of Monroe. “This new program – called Home in Monroe - will help families attain the dream of homeownership.”

A “Home in Monroe” celebration will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Kenneth G. Jackson Memorial Estates at 105 Bernice Drive. The public is invited to come out, learn how they can participate in the program and enjoy refreshments, snow cones, hot dogs and family-friendly games.

“We are Monroe Proud of this public-private partnership and the amazing grant from JPMorgan Chase,” said Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo. “In this pilot program, our Planning & Urban Development department will be working with our partners to manage and deliver training opportunities, programs, and mentoring to create more local neighborhood developers and homeowners. This is all about leveraging our resources to encourage civic engagement, spark neighborhood revitalization, and create empowerment opportunities.”

Mayo will be among the speakers at Saturday’s launch event. Other speakers will include Tania Hilburn, site leader for Chase in Monroe; Clarence Smith, president/CEO of Mount Pleasant CDC, and Dr. Donald Andrews, dean of Southern University’s College of Business.

This project is designed to address blight and disinvestment in Monroe’s older neighborhoods. Currently, the City estimates over 100 blighted properties in the target area. The City of Monroe will work to make available for purchase blighted properties and vacant tracts under its control. To provide an educational foundation for the effort, the Mount Pleasant CDC will expand its financial coaching and counseling for first-time homebuyers.

And through a partnership with Rent-to-credit, the community development corporation will assist in building participant credit scores.

Southern University will adapt its 12-week emerging developer certification, originally piloted in Baton Rouge after the 2016 floods, to provide certification training and support to small contractors and emerging developers in Monroe.

“Chase has been a proud member of this community for more than 25 years, and we’re committed to doing our part to drive positive change for Monroe,” said Tania Hilburn, site leader for Chase in Monroe. “Too many people in Monroe are unable to afford the quality housing they are working so hard to attain.”

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is one of the largest employers in Ouachita parish and has more than 1 million customers in Louisiana. Since Hurricane Katrina, Chase has donated more than $40 million to non-profits working across the state.

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