I am amazed, in awe, and inspired by the way many nonprofit leaders – many of whom are women – are leading their organizations through the uncertainty brought on by COVID-19. So much so, that I’ve decided to do a special series about Badass Nonprofit and Small Business Executive Women who are living in the trenches, working to keep their nonprofit running, and doing critical work to continue to serve individuals and families during this crisis. I’m curious about their work and the people they’re serving, their biggest concerns, and how they are taking care of themselves and those around them. So I asked!

Moira Carlstedt, President & CEO, Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership

Moira works within a community culture grounded in public-private partnerships, which enables her to utilize her extensive leadership and work experience in the private, government, and nonprofit sectors to pursue the INHP mission to “increase affordable and sustainable housing opportunities for individuals and families and serve as a catalyst for the development and revitalization of neighborhoods.” She has served as President of the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership since February 1998. Through COVID-19, Moira and her staff remain mission-driven and are doing all that they can to ensure Hoosiers have the opportunity to live in a safe, decent, and affordable home.

Q.  Who are you serving and how are you serving them during this crisis?

A.  For more than 30 years, INHP has provided homebuyer education, one-on-one advising, and mortgage lending to low- and moderate-income people, enabling them to make informed choices and gain purchasing power. INHP also helps build strong Indianapolis neighborhoods through direct investment, commercial lending, community grants, and technical assistance to support their plans and goals of creating more affordable housing opportunities and improve the quality of life. Although COVID-19 has caused us to adapt our programs and services, it has not altered our mission. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to live in a safe, decent, and affordable home in a vibrant neighborhood.

This is a critical time for INHP – we have clients who may have hourly jobs and reduced hours, children needing childcare, or are incurring other unbudgeted expenses. We are discussing these realities right now with clients who are in the mortgage and credit advising and post-purchase counseling programs and customizing their personal money management plans to help them adjust to these realities. Foundational financial planning is key to any successful homeownership journey.

INHP also has engaged with our neighborhood partners to understand their challenges, opportunities, and needs. They’re an important fabric of the neighborhood, and we want to seek their feedback and identify how we can help them stay on track so they can continue to serve their communities.

Q.  Have you added, changed, or deleted any services because of COVID-19?

A.  We have not deleted any of our services, but we have changed some of the ways we deliver our services to clients. To do our part to stop any spread of the virus, we’ve moved to a mobile workforce. All client meetings take place over the phone. We postponed our in-person education classes and redirected participants to our online classes. We continue to conduct loan closings in-person, but with essential participants only and following all the guidelines put in place by health officials.

In tandem, with the help of our communications team, we built a resource webpage to help anyone seeking advice on how to navigate their housing situation amidst this pandemic. It offers information to those who may be worried about making their mortgage or rent payment, tools for those who need help with budgeting, and links to other home buying news articles. We have a post-purchase counseling program to help INHP mortgage holders establish an emergency budget. We also proactively reached out to many past clients to let them know we’re here to help them stay on track.

Finally, INHP has collaborated with the City of Indianapolis to identify and develop a response to challenges faced by the affordable housing and community development system. Two main challenges were liquidity and operating expenses. By working together, INHP established a loan fund to provide liquidity to community-based developers so they can continue to move forward with capital needed to fulfill contracts. Second, we offered new grants to affordable housing partners to use toward work-from-home technology or other operating expenses.

Q.  What are your biggest concerns right now?

A.  My biggest concern is that our families may be fearful of uncertainty. They may not reach out and access the resources available; they may react based on limited information. An important part of INHP’s mission is to create long-term homeowners, and we have a dedicated team of experts to help those who may be worried about their housing situation now, or perhaps worried if they’ll ever be able to reach that goal.

For our neighborhoods, I’m worried about losing momentum and their ability to fulfill the actions on their existing quality of life plans. Many of these organizations have had to incur unexpected expenses and face the reality that philanthropic resources may no longer be available. They may not have the ability to act as they had intended to reach their goals.

Q.  How are you taking care of yourself, your staff, and your clients?

A.  I have complete confidence in our staff’s commitment to INHP’s mission, and I trust everyone is doing their best to help INHP clients and their own families. I look forward to our Monday morning staff forums, which we initiated as a result of our switch to a mobile workforce. Each Monday, the entire INHP team participates in a conference call where we take roll call to hear everyone’s voice. INHP leadership provides important updates, we answer staff questions, and we send encouragement so everyone knows we are listening and responding to concerns.

Personally, I miss my family and friends terribly. However, we “got it together” and embraced Zoom (I may have been the slowest!). It was wonderful seeing my family from five different states – Texas, Georgia, Florida, Colorado, and Indiana – together recently.

Q.  What is your biggest need right now and how can people support your organization?

A.  I want to continue to spread two messages: First, if you think you may be late making a mortgage or rent payment, be proactive by calling your lender or landlord to discuss your situation. Second, INHP is here to help people navigate their housing situation through COVID-19 circumstances. As each day passes – and once the pandemic has subsided – I see the need for additional housing counseling support so we can handle any influx of questions related to forbearance and missed payments.

If people want to support us in this endeavor, they may call Morgan Hoover, vice president of philanthropy and marketing.

Q.  What is your biggest concern right now?

A.  My focus is on our families and being able to respond to their current needs so they are not burdened by uncertainty. I want to retain as much affordable housing opportunities as we can. I also look forward to continuing coordination with other civic leaders in our city like United Way of Central Indiana, the City of Indianapolis, and others, to help us get to the other side of this interruption in daily life. Partnership is in our name, and I have confidence in the partnerships we have to keep our families and neighborhoods moving forward.

Q.  What are you reading, watching, listening to, or doing to get through this?

A.  Truthfully, I’m attracted to the sun during this time. I’m also currently watching The English Game on Netflix because we raised two sons who were Division I soccer players (but don’t tell my daughter we’re watching it!).