During NAHREP’s 2016 Hispanic Housing and Policy Conference this past March, one local chapter stood out from the rest. Based on impressive membership growth, outstanding events, and an unbeatable commitment to NAHREP’s mission of achieving sustainable Latino homeownership, NAHREP’s South Florida chapter was honored as the 2016 Chapter of the Year.

Here, Chapter President Albert Yabor and Liza Mendez, emeritus director for their board, discuss growth, community outreach, and more.

Zoe Eisenberg: What does it mean to be honored as the 2016 NAHREP Chapter of the Year?
Liza Mendez: Chapter of the Year is a huge honor. While we started the chapter a few short years ago, the growth we’ve achieved has been amazing. The hard work, effort and commitment of the current board directors took the chapter to an entirely new level, and being honored as Chapter of the Year is a recognition of the group as a whole.

Albert Yabor: This recognition is a true testament to the tireless work that our board, our past boards, and our founding members have done over the years. We started our chapter based on the simple notion that we’re here as the voice of our Latino brothers and sisters, to help set the advancement of sustainable homeownership in motion in South Florida.

ZE: What milestones did you hit this past year?
LM: One of the biggest milestones is greater awareness of NAHREP in the real estate community. South Florida has a lot of different real estate organizations, so getting the professional industry’s attention has been huge. The introduction of the NAHREP 10 has also helped propel our momentum.

ZE: What makes your events so successful?
AY: Our events are successful because each one is purposeful, with a strong educational element inspired by the likes of NAHREP’s Hispanic Wealth Project and, most recently, the 10 powerful disciplines of the NAHREP 10. In January 2016, we hosted our most well-attended networking mixer, an event that attracted over 250 attendees. In March, we featured world-renowned online marketing guru Chris Smith at our first of four educational rallies.

ZE: How does your chapter focus on community outreach?
AY: Our goal is to aid in the mitigation against the risk of eviction, foreclosure, loan default and overall economic decline of low- and temporarily low-income households residing in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, while aiding individuals and families in obtaining and maintaining self-sufficiency, economic stability and potential growth.

ZE: How do you act upon your commitment to NAHREP’s mission of achieving sustainable Latino homeownership?
AY: We’ve taken political advocacy to a whole new level in 2016 by starting a grassroots effort to get to know our local congressman and senators. We’re educating our politicians in regard to NAHREP’s policy positions, which focus on improving access to affordable mortgage credit, in addition to other policy priorities such as addressing the unintended consequences of rule-making, eliminating government programs that reduce available housing inventory, and passing comprehensive immigration reform. This is being done to educate and empower our local politicians, to help aide them when drafting policy that affects all Latinos nationally.
LM: I’m passionate about bringing back more affordable financing options for condominium buyers—a topic I bring up anytime I’m in front of someone of influence. Through my involvement with the Miami Association of REALTORS®, we created a condo finance task force, which has a good representation of NAHREP members. We keep the pressure on to make sure entry-level buyers have options on where to live, as they pave the way for move-up buyers. It’s always about the people. We can’t forget that.

For more information, visit www.nahrep.org.