Since 1994, Newtown has evolved steadily from a modest beginning in one Tempe neighborhood to become a leading advisor and a trusted partner for thousands of homebuyers across the Phoenix area.
The organization began in 1994 when homeowners in Tempe's Maple-Ash Neighborhood Association banded together to start the MANA Restoration Coalition to restore and preserve their neighborhood through strategic planning and advocacy.
By 1998, the organization had expanded to include 10 neighborhoods and was renamed Northwest Tempe Neighborhoods CDC, Inc. (NewTowN). Recognizing that sustainable neighborhoods depend on sustainable homeownership, NewTowN began to shift focus to increasing access to affordable housing.
The City of Tempe provided funding to NewTowN in 2000 to acquire, rehabilitate, and resell 6 houses to low and moderate income households. To prepare potential buyers for homeownership, NewTowN used a grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust to hire a housing counselor and began offering homeownership counseling and homebuyer education.
NewTowN later partnered with Tempe Community Council, City of Tempe, and others to establish a community land trust (CLT) for Tempe, a new model for creating permanently affordable homeownership opportunities for lower income households. A separate non-profit named the Community LT of Tempe, was created with the understanding that the homes acquired and renovated by NewTowN would be resold through the CLT. In March 2001, NewTowN purchased its first home for renovation.
In 2002, NewTowN expanded its service area to include all of Tempe and started a down-payment assistance program, in which low-income households start a special savings account and receive matching funds to help them buy their first house. The first two savers using this program bought their homes in 2003.
In addition to developing the first homes for the CLT, NewTowN had also created an effective program for preparing first time homebuyers for successful homeownership. Based on the productive relationship they had created, the two organizations decided to merge in 2004, creating a single organization now known as Newtown Community Development Corporation (Newtown) — with no more capital NTN.
Following that merger, Wells Fargo provided Newtown with sizable loans and lines of credit, which were used to purchase and renovate houses for the CLT, greatly increasing the pool of affordable houses.
At the same time, the City of Tempe awarded Newtown a contract to expand homebuyer education classes and housing counseling. And, also in 2004, ten more homebuyers were able to save money to purchase their first homes through the down-payment assistance program.
Recognizing Newtown's success, in 2005 Bank of America awarded Newtown its Neighborhood Builders® award, a significant grant used to hire a bilingual housing counselor and housing development manager, further increasing the services available to support hardworking homebuyers.
Over the ensuing years, Newtown has continued to grow, expanding the CLT portfolio into the largest such program in Arizona, with more than 140 homes across Maricopa County, plus more in development. Newtown has also added programs in credit counseling, financial coaching, and financial literacy education to ensure that individuals and families at all income levels will be able to take the long-term steps to stabilize their finances, save money, purchase a house, and build equity.
In 2014, Newtown began offering a HUD-approved Online Homebuyer Education course which not only educates new homebuyers on how to navigate the home-buying process, but allows them to qualify for many loans and financial assistance programs. Thousands of people have since completed the course, which is offered in both English and Spanish.
Since Newtown's founding, the organization has worked closely with cities and other organizations and agencies to support working families, including providing on-site financial coaching and homebuyer counseling. Over the years, those relationships have expanded across the Valley to include clients of Tempe Community Action Agency, A New Leaf, Save the Family, and Section 8 and Family Self-Sufficiency programs in Phoenix, Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, and Maricopa County.
In 2019, Newtown turned 25 years old and continues to seek new ways to promote affordable and accessible homeownership in the Phoenix metro area.