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Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, left, presents a proclamation to Robert Tourigny of NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire on Thursday during its 25th anniversary celebration breakfast at the Manchester Country Club in Bedford. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire celebrates


BEDFORD — Throughout the past 25 years, NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire has built nearly 500 housing units, transformed neighborhoods and invested in the community.

"They have been a very important force in redeveloping and revitalizing the center of the city," said former Manchester Mayor Ray Wieczorek.

Dozens of people gathered Thursday morning at the Manchester Country Club to celebrate the anniversary and accomplishments of NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire, and to promote its future efforts.

Founded in 1992 in response to issues troubling Manchester's center city neighborhood, the organization's footprint now includes Manchester, Nashua and nearly 30 other communities.

The group's mission is to help stabilize towns and cities by providing quality housing services, revitalizing neighborhoods and promoting community pride.

To date, about 493 housing units have been created in more than 20 developments, two public parks have been established and 1,166 first-time homebuyers have been able to accomplish the American Dream, according to board members.

“It has been amazing to see the transformation and the changes,” said Robert Tourigny, executive director of NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire.

The organization has provided $95 million in real estate development investment, $35 million in homeownership loan originations and paid about $5 million in real estate taxes.

It continues to identify properties in southern New Hampshire that need to be improved. However, there are several challenges in acquiring some of the sites, Tourigny said.

There is currently a high demand for rental housing, meaning landlords can rent substandard properties at nearly any price because people are desperate, said Tourigny, adding some property owners are not willing to sell because they are currently generating strong profits despite any recent renovations.

NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire is in the process of rehabilitating 98 occupied apartments in Manchester’s center city at a cost of about $2.5 million — the same units it built in the early 1990s when the organization was founded.

It is also launching the second phase of Whittemore Estates in Londonderry, which will add 33 more units to the facility. According to Tourigny, there is already a lengthy wait list for individuals hoping to reside there.

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas presented a proclamation to NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire on Thursday, thanking the agency for its commitment and dedication to improving real estate options and expanding affordable housing in the region.

The organization has reached beyond the borders of Manchester, and previously acquired property in Nashua to refurbish.

“We are hoping to help neighborhoods find new opportunities in Nashua,” said Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess, praising NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire for expanding into the Gate City and creating decent, affordable housing in the Tree Streets area.

Neighborhoods make a difference, said Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, who said Manchester has improved because this organization cares about its residents. Investing in the betterment of local neighborhoods will make the entire state stronger, he added.

khoughton@newstote.com