NeighborWorks Umpqua, a Roseburg nonprofit agency that over the decades has helped thousands of low-income families with housing, economic assistance and other forms of aid, is facing some financial issues of its own.

The agency, which two weeks ago abruptly parted ways with its top two executive officers, has been losing money over the last few years, including a deficit of more than $1.8 million in 2019 alone.

NeighborWorks Umpqua was established 30 years ago under the name Umpqua Community Development Corp., and provides low-cost housing and social services to residents in Douglas, Coos, Curry, Jackson and Josephine counties. On Feb. 26, the agency sent out a notice saying that CEO Merten Bangemann-Johnson and chief operating officer Trisha Ingalls had left the nonprofit. The notice did not give a reason for the departure or mention the two executives by name.

A review of NeighborWorks Umpqua’s tax records obtained by The News-Review shows that the agency spent more money than it received in every year but one between 2015 and 2019.

Those tax records show the following:

  • Between 2016 and 2019, NeighborWorks ran up deficits of $3.5 million.
  • Total liabilities nearly tripled in four years, going from $6.1 million in 2015 to $17 million in 2019.
  • Employee salaries, benefits and other compensation went from $2.4 million in 2018 to $3.9 million in 2019, a 62% increase. Total revenue went up 6% in that same time period.

NeighborWorks Umpqua has hired a recently retired CEO of a nonprofit in Northern California to be interim CEO, and brought back a former director of the agency until it finds a permanent CEO. NeighborWorks Umpqua is also looking for a chief financial officer; it has been without one since May.

Randall Mason, who is chairman of the board for NeighborWorks Umpqua, said in addition to retaining the two retired CEOs, the board is contracting with a financial consulting firm to oversee financial management until the new CFO is in place.

“The NWU board has put together a strong plan to not only continue current operations, but to ensure operations into the foreseeable future,” said Mason, who has been on the board since 2017.

Mason said that in 2015, the NeighborWorks Umpqua board embarked on an aggressive, five-year strategic plan to guide the agency into the future. Part of that plan called for the agency to “rapidly increase” the number of affordable housing units in the five counties it serves.

“To achieve the rapid addition of new housing units, NWU returned to the property development business in a big way,” Mason said.

The agency began to build and renovate properties which it could then make available as affordable housing, he said. But unlike developers who work at market rates, agencies like Neighborworks Umpqua that provide affordable housing cannot recoup their costs as quickly, Mason said.

“In this case, we have expenses such as land cost, labor, plans, permits, etc. that are all paid for ‘up front’ before the building is actually built, and the final ‘value’ of the building is actually realized, sometimes multiple years down the road,” he said.

Mason also said this same dynamic affects the agency’s bottom line, since all of the expenses come many years prior to actually receiving any income, including a developer fee that is payable only when the development is completed and occupied.

Put all that together and the result is what you see in the tax records: an increase in liabilities and expenditures and a lag in revenues and net worth, he said.

“We wind up having negative operating statements in the years prior to receiving and accounting for any real income,” said Mason, who is a senior relationship manager with Rogue Credit Union.

HELPING PEOPLE

NeighborWorks Umpqua was established in 1991 as the Umpqua Community Development Corp. The organization’s primary mission was to develop affordable housing in Douglas County. In 1999, the agency added economic development to its mission and expanded its service area to include more of rural Oregon.

Over the years the agency expanded its geographic reach and scope of services. In addition to the main office in Roseburg, NeighborWorks Umpqua also has an office in North Bend.

The agency continues to get widespread community support, especially financially. In 2019, a total of eight large contributors gave the agency more than $3.6 million. Those contributors included Neighborhood Partnerships in Portland, which provided about $2.2 million, and the Ford Foundation in Roseburg, which gave $124,000.

NeighborWorks Umpqua had $54 million in total assets and $37 million in net assets in 2019, tax records show.

That same year the agency owned more than 600 affordable housing units, helped preserve 50 rental homes and helped another 49 new home buyers get their homes. The agency also helped repair 33 owner-occupied homes and kept 30 homes from being foreclosed on, according to its website.

Tax records show the agency owns more than a dozen properties in the counties it serves, include housing in Myrtle Creek, Canyonville, Coos Bay, North Bend and Roseburg.

NeighborWorks Umpqua’s newest apartment complex is the 68-unit Deer Creek Village, located east of downtown Roseburg. Renters should start moving in soon, providing housing to low-income veterans, individuals, and small families. Apartments range from studio to one and two-bedroom units, with rents ranging from $305 to $795 a month.

NeighborWorks Umpqua also recently got $4.1 million in low-cost loans and grants from the state to address affordable housing needs in Douglas and Coos counties.

The nonprofit is using $1.6 million of the funds towards the renovation of the Grand Apartments, a former hotel in downtown Roseburg. In addition to the building renovations, the agency will reserve 12 units for people who are unhoused.

NeighborWorks Umpqua is using the balance of the grant funds, about $2.5 million, toward the renovation and preservation of a 39-unit apartment complex in Coquille that provides affordable housing for lower-income seniors, working families and individuals with disabilities. The agency announced last summer that it will be investing a total of $7.8 million on the project.

NeighborWorks Umpqua also operates Heartwood ReSources, which sells recycled building materials out of a 15,000 square-foot warehouse located at 3495 Highway 99 South in Roseburg.

Mason said he is confident the community support, including the financial assistance from foundations and government agencies, will continue. He said within 48 hours of the announcement of a change in leadership, NeighborWorks Umpqua was contacted by the foundations and government agencies it gets funding from.

“It is important to note what they did not say,” Mason said. “They did not ask how they could get their investment/grant/loan back, but rather, they all said ‘what can we do to help?’”

‘LITTLE SUCCESSES’

The first order of business for NeighborWorks Umpqua is finding replacements for Bangemann-Johnson and Ingalls.

Bangemann-Johnson had been CEO for just less than six years. He brought Ingalls on board in 2018 as director of operations. She was promoted to COO after nine months, and had been with the agency just less than three years.

NeighborWorks Umpqua has hired an East Coast recruiting firm to do a national search for both a CEO and a CFO. The agency hopes to fill both positions within a few months.

In the interim, NeighborWorks Umpqua named John Fowler as its CEO. Fowler said he had just retired on Dec. 31 as CEO of People’s Self-Help Housing, a nonprofit agency in San Luis Obisbo, California. He had been there 10 years.

The board has also retained the services of Betty Tamm, who had been the executive director of NeighborWorks Umpqua — including when it was called Umpqua Community Development Corp. — for nearly 20 years before retiring in May 2015.

“The Board asked me to come in and help provide a bridge while they search for new leadership,” she said. “It is really short term as I have my own business and I enjoy being outdoors on beautiful spring days like this.”

Mason said Fowler and Tamm are “recognized leaders” in the community development and affordable housing arenas, and are reaching out to the various funding agencies, vendors and other business partners that work with NeighborWorks Umpqua.

“These individuals not only provide a strong interim leadership for our company, but are recognized within the industry as individuals that can produce,” Mason said. “With their guidance, we have developed a short and long-term plan to strengthen NWU and have provided that plan to our partners.”

He also said NeighborWorks Umpqua will continue to focus on its core mission, which is providing opportunities to help people better their lives.

As an example, he cited a tenant of one of the agency’s single-family residences that just requested to buy the home. Mason called the purchase a success story that involved providing affordable housing to the tenant and helping them learn about home ownership and good economic habits.

This person will now own their home and the proceeds from the sale will help NeighborWorks help more people, he said.

“These ‘little successes’ are the things that keep us on the board of directors, as well as our dedicated staff, working at this endeavor that we call community development and housing at NeighborWorks Umpqua,” Mason said.

Scott Carroll can be reached at scarroll@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204. Or follow him on Twitter @scottcarroll15.

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(13) comments

BetsyC

Boy is that title an understatement. May have financial difficulties? Really a non-profit public benefit corp running in that kind of deficit giving 62% raises to staff is not just a may, it is an is. They have been mismanaged, plan and simple.

Although some of this is the Ex Director/CEO fault, the responsibility lays at the feet of the Board of Directors. Even the staff who knew about the problems bare some responsibility because they are working in a field that is based on the public trust. Shame on them all.

Unfortunately this is just the tip of the iceberg. You have not even taken a look at the buildings they run and not maintaining. Like the Kohlhagen that has not had an elevator for well over a year. Or the Rose that has had a broken heating system since they bought it four years. Or the fact they have numerous vacancies, some for over a year, while we have so many people living on the streets and long waitlist for affordable housing.

This is clearly an example of why these kinds of programs need to be directly run by a governmental entity. This would be less likely to have happened if there was a board that had to have public meetings and records, including income and expense records that any member of the public would have a right to see.

Just putting in new leadership will not solve the fundamental problem with entitles like NWU. The public deserves a full accounting and no excuses about what NWU did with our money and why they are in this financial crisis. I am thinking they need to turn their housing assets over to the residents of the buildings or the public housing authority.

Roseburgonian

what a joke. looks like this was ran by the same type of people who run our government. local and federal and state. a bunch of greedy sharks that hurt people for their own gain. "we are losing money, quick give ourselves raises before it is all gone. And when it hits the fan we just run with our money!"

Marine Vet

Employee salaries, benefits and other compensation went from $2.4 million in 2018 to $3.9 million in 2019, a 62% increase. Total revenue went up 6% in that same time period.

Mike

Approximately 35% to 50% of NeighborWorks revenue comes from grants ultimately paid for by us taxpayers. Considering this, if both NeighborWork's long time leaders were terminated for cause, isn't the public owed a reason for their termination and a description of what happened? Otherwise, how can we trust NeighborWorks has made sure proper controls have been put in place to prevent a reoccurence?

mworden

Just for clarity's sake: NeighborWorks' long-time leader retired in good standing after 20+ years. The people brought in to replace her are now gone. The former long-time leader has come out of retirement to help the organization while new leadership is found. This clarification is about the term "long time leaders" and nothing more.

Mike

NeighborWorks Umpqua received federal Paycheck Protection Program funds of $1,458,597 last year for the 67 employees they claimed in their application according to the U.S. Department of Treasury. NeighborWorks submitted two applications for PPP money and received $716,065 on April 15, 2020 and another $742,532 on January 28, 2021.

https://projects.propublica.org/coronavirus/bailouts/loans/umpqua-community-development-corporation-7390388300

NeighborWorks form 990 indicates it had over $37 million in NET assets and 52 employees at the end of 2018. The majority of the over $7 million in revenue NeighborWorks generates annually is from rental income, grants and property management fees.

https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/931057208/01_2020_prefixes_90-93%2F931057208_201812_990_2020012317060490

Wretched722

Has it occurred to these people that there are just too "needy" types that have to be fed, housed, etc. and no one can keep up any longer?

mworden

Yep, Rise, it's shocking that people need housing they can afford and they shamelessly want to eat daily. Probably want jobs and clothes and education, too. What has the world come to?

sectorstar

I'm not saying this is the case with all people here, but the reality is the vast majority of people here DON'T want to work and are masters of manipulating the system. Last statistical data I read about showed that 1 in 3 people here are on some type of assistance, I'd bet well over half of them are perfectly capable of working, they just choose not too. I've been working at Costco for almost 11 years now. The first few years the store opened we'd hire our year seasonals. I'd say about 80 percent of them would get called back at some point as permanent workers and you could tell they actually wanted to be there and work. As the years went on though its turned into the opposite. Now when we hire seasonals about a third of them don't make it past their 30 day probation point and get let go. The most common issues would be for their poor attendance and overall work ethic. We get all these people that want a job, but don't actually wanna work for it. That, or they think they should be promoted to the top just after working there for a few weeks or months.

mworden

sectorstar, the figure for people on some type of assistance is probably higher than 1 in 3, if you include social security retirement and disabled vets in that figure.

16 percent of Douglas County is on public assistance (welfare.) Most of those people are dependent children. 23 percent are 65 or older, making them eligible for Medicare and most of those are also eligible for monthly social security payments. 10 percent of the county population is over 75.

We also have a higher than average population of disabled and senior vets who settled here specifically to be close to services provided by the VA hospital. In Oregon as a whole, 7 percent of the under age 65 population is disabled. In Douglas County the figure is 19 percent, with all but 1 percent living in Roseburg. Many of my past clients were injured in combat and chose to live here for two reasons -- they wanted to live in a small town and they wanted to live within minutes of a VA hospital. Roseburg fulfills both of those needs. It's easy to spot a vet with an amputation, but it's not easy to spot a vet with a traumatic brain injury. Their disability is just as real and we have a lot of combat vets here all the way from Viet Nam to Iraq to Afghanistan, with a few WWII and Korea vets still in the mix.

Douglas County also has more than it's share of social problems, including substance use disorders, mental health issues, poor health and less than average education. So I don't doubt anything you say. As a community, we don't score high on those measures.

So I don't doubt anything you say and I believe your frustration. As a community we have so much work to do so people can come to Costco and other businesses work-ready and with a good attitude and ethics. You are not asking for too much.

NeighborWorks Umpqua is one of the organizations doing that work so that people can have safe, stable lives. We have to start somewhere and they've been working hard at our social problems for the last 25 years. They have made a difference and I hope they pull out of this hole and keep helping people for the next 25 years.

https://www.oregon.gov/DHS/SENIORS-DISABILITIES/LTC/LTC30/LTC30/douglas.pdf

Marine Vet

So what if a Few Poor People game the System. RICH People do it Every single day & No One says a thing.And your entire post was nothing but your opinion. Not a single Fact was presented. Guess your hate is directed at the Homeless/unemployed.?

sectorstar

Rich people aren't using the programs or services through neighborhood works, so your comment is irrelevant. Also nowhere did I say I "hated" anyone. Might wanna invest in a pair of glasses to read better.

mworden

I just want to say that, IMO, it's okay for sectorstar or anyone else to post about their lived experience without having links or references to back up their experience. It's also great that so many people post links that provide us with additional information. Lived experience is valuable too. Douglas County has more recorded social problems than many other parts of Oregon. That's real and it's backed up by the CDC and other reliable organization. Becoming aware of those problems is important when it comes to finding ways to improve the health, economy and well-being of our county,

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