October 3, 2001

Mayor Clancey and Mayor Coleman to Chair CitiesFirst Task Force

Washington, DC -- Mayor Lee Clancy of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Mayor Michael Coleman of Columbus, Ohio, have been selected to co-chair the newly created CitiesFirst Task Force, which will encourage economic growth through the thoughtful use of urban land. CitiesFirst is a national community revitalization venture created by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Nehemiah Corporation of California to help promote strategies to develop and rebuild American cities.

"Mayor Clancey's commitment to reinvigorating Cedar Rapids and her focus on providing affordable housing for the residents of her community parallel the goals of CitiesFirst," said New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "Mayor Coleman's fresh and innovative ideas on how to strengthen our cities and his dedication to ensuring that Columbus prospers will be true assets to this program. It is our responsibility as Mayors to provide access to the tools and resources necessary for our communities to thrive."

CitiesFirst will provide Mayors with access to funding and technical assistance to help transform cities, shape federal policy, promote sustained growth and stability, and continue to bring people and commerce back to the heart of American cities. CitiesFirst will leverage Nehemiah's ability to assist urban residents in gaining access to safe and affordable housing and restoring public land in order to strengthen the economic base of urban areas.

"CitiesFirst is positioned to have a great impact on America's cities and we are pleased that Mayor Clancey and Mayor Coleman have agreed to chair this important task force," said the Conference's Executive Director, J. Thomas Cochran. "Their collective experience and strong drive to help rebuild America's cities will ensure that CitiesFirst succeeds in helping to increase homeownership and stabilize our communities."

Founded in 1994, the Nehemiah Corporation has provided down payment assistance to more than 93,000 families in approximately 5,700 cities nationwide. Nehemiah has "gifted" approximately $300 million in down payments to homebuyers across the country. The company recently created the Nehemiah Urban Land Trust, a program designed to acquire, manage, and preserve housing for social service agencies that assist low-income and special needs families and individuals. Initially, Nehemiah has committed $1 million to the program, which will be used to preserve social service organizations selected cities.

"Nehemiah is dedicated to renewing and revitalizing urban communities," said Scott Syphax, president and CEO of the Nehemiah Corporation of California. "Our partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors will enable us to reach more people who can benefit from our down payment assistance and urban land renewal programs."

The U. S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are about 1,200 such cities in the country today. Its chief elected official, the Mayor, represents each city in the Conference.

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Contact: Dana Bykowski, United States of Conference Mayors, 202-293-7330 Dana Fields, Sloane & Company, 212-446-1878


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