Manna began in 1982 as a faith-based and community-based producer of affordable homeownership housing in the District of Columbia. Manna's founder and Board Chairman, Rev. Jim Dickerson, managed For Love Of Children's (FLOC) "Hope and a Home" program, which provides supportive social services and transitional housing for families in need. As Hope and a Home families became successful in stabilizing and improving their lives, many wanted to continue to grow and realize their potentials and their dreams for a better life free of poverty, homelessness and welfare dependence. Many families saw homeownership as the next step in their path toward achieving the positive goals they had set for themselves. And they had come to believe it was a goal they could reach with the right help.
Thus, Manna, Inc. was originally formed to purchase, renovate and sell homes to formerly homeless families graduating from transitional housing. From the beginning, however, Manna worked not just with formerly homeless families, but anyone who met the lower-income guidelines of the program.
Since 1982, Manna has completed and sold more than 1,000 such homes and, based on a study completed in 2005, helped our buyers accumulate over $60 million in home equity collectively. Manna is also proud of the fact that its intensive and nationally-recognized homebuyer education program and its careful and conscientious marketing strategies and post-purchase follow-up have paid off with a very low rate of foreclosure among our buyers (less than 1.2%). Manna incubated a highly respected and successful community development corporation focused solely on the Shaw neighborhood. In addition, to working for affordable housing development and doing community organizing, Manna Community Development Corporation also works to promote small business development. In 2005, the Manna, Inc. Board voted to spin-off Manna CDC as an entirely independent entity.
In 1985, Manna created its homeownership training program which eventually became the Manna Homebuyers Club. Early on Manna realized that many lower-income people wanted to buy a home, but few knew how to go through the step-by-step process to do so. Most had never owned a home nor had anyone in their families. In addition, Manna realized that quality pre-purchase counseling and education was a key ingredient to preventing problems such as foreclosure after purchase. Without a doubt, Manna's homebuyer training program is a big factor in the success of our buyers. The Homebuyers Club created by Manna has become a national model and been replicated across the country by NeighborWorks America (formerly Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation), a national non-profit intermediary chartered by Congress.
In 2003, Manna also incorporated the city's first and only non-profit licensed mortgage company, called Manna Mortgage Corp., offering home purchase and refinance loans targeted to traditionally underserved low-income homebuyers and homeowners.
Today, in 2011, the situation in Washington DC has effectively reversed itself from where we were in 1982. Mortgage interest rates are much lower. Banks are lending money for affordable housing and neighborhood commercial development. DC is one of the hottest real estate markets for residential and commercial development in the world. Manna used to be the buyer of last resort. Today, Manna competes, or tries to compete, in the marketplace with for-profit companies, investors, and speculators. Acquisition costs have increased from a few thousand dollars per unit to $60,000 and up. Neighborhoods that Manna helped turn around, e.g. Shaw, LeDroit Park, Southwest Waterfront, Galveston, Anacostia, are gentrified or in the process of gentrifying. Long time residents are being forced or bought out.
Manna is committed to continuing to do what it has successfully been doing for nearly 30years, namely providing homeownership to first time, low-income families in DC and supporting those families with after purchase follow-up, training, and community organizing. Manna is blessed with a large, dedicated, competent staff and has the capacity to operate at a high level. The Manna Board has determined that Manna should continue to grow and do more for Washington. Manna plans to increase settlements, to increase and improve its community building program, to increase and improve the Manna Homebuyers Club, and to build up its subsidiaries-Manna Mortgage and Providence Construction-and create more development partnerships.