The Nehemiah Corp. of America today unveiled the Nehemiah Code of Conduct, a guideline of policies and standards based on the company’s existing best practices.

Nehemiah, a privately funded nonprofit provider of down payment gift assistance, also called on the $700 million industry to adopt similar standards. The company has offered to partner with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to institutionalize reforms that will better educate and protect home buyers.

“Nehemiah created this industry to provide lower income, working families with the opportunity to achieve the social and economic benefits of long-term successful homeownership,” said Scott Syphax, Nehemiah’s president and CEO. “Over the years, we developed a set of guidelines and rules to help our homebuyers – what we call our ‘Code of Conduct.’ As the down payment assistance continues to grow rapidly – having now helped over 500,000 families nationally – it is essential we establish a clearer set of standards and regulations for the industry.”

Highlights of Nehemiah’s Code of Conduct include:

  • Restrict gift funds to the acquisition of the home buyer’s principal residence and for only those costs allowed by federal law and regulation.

  • Inform all home sellers that a contribution paid to a nonprofit DAP is not deductible as a charitable contribution.

  • Expressly prohibit parties from increasing the sale price of a home, directly or indirectly, based upon the buyer’s receipt of down payment assistance.

  • Document all gift fund requests and clearly disclose in writing all service or processing fees.

  • Specifically bar the payment of commissions or kickbacks to mortgage brokers, real estate agents, builders or sellers for securing down payment assistance.

  • Vigorously protect the privacy of all personal information obtained from DAP-assisted homebuyers.

  • Require regular internal audits of DAPs to ensure that they are operating consistently with these best practices and their nonprofit status.

  • Immediately remove from the program any party found to engage in or support activities that undermine the program’s charitable purpose, do not comply with the program’s policies and procedures, or show an intent to perpetuate a fraudulent transaction.

Founded in 1994, Nehemiah Corp. of America is a Sacramento, Calif.-based nonprofit organization. It launched its down payment assistance program in 1997.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to samantha@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 140.

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