Fidelity: Here for Good
All Habitat homeowners pay a mortgage. NOAHH serves as the loan originator and holds the note—Habitat loans the money to the homebuyer (at no interest) and receive their payments (which all go directly into building more homes)—but Fidelity Bank services hundreds of mortgages for the affiliate, for free.
Since their founding in 1908, Fidelity has made housing in New Orleans a priority. Their partnership with NOAHH began in 2001, when NOAHH Board Treasurer Tony Sciortino realized that Habitat partner families would be better served by a bank with multiple locations where they could make payments, rather than coming to Habitat’s offices. It also allowed Habitat to focus their energy on homebuilding rather than accounting. Fidelity’s commitment to housing in New Orleans is tied up in their motto, Here for Good, which reflects their long history in the city as well as their commitment to the communities they serve.
“Here for Good speaks to the fact that our bank has been here since 1908,” said Katie Crosby, Chairman of the Board of Fidelity Bank and former Board President at NOAHH. “Even going forward, we are here to serve the community we work in. We’re here for the community as it grows, and we support entities that work alongside us in the community—and what better partner than Habitat. One of our core products is residential mortgage loans, so there’s a lot of synergy there. We think it’s important to allow people to own a home. A home gives people real roots in the community. It makes them feel connected and makes a better community. We believe that, and Habitat does, too. If we help families by providing that, we start them on a foundation of being Here for Good.”
Chad Bonura, Vice President Loan Analytics & Technology Development, has been working with NOAHH’s partner families for 13 years. He works with them directly and sees how the program benefits them.
“Homeownership is a significant event in a person’s life,” he said. “We take pride in what we do and that we do it free of charge, that we’re doing it for the betterment of the community and homeowners’ lives. They’re realizing a dream and making it long lasting so they can live in the house the rest of their lives. We help make that possible.”
Their involvement with Habitat homeowners also gives them perspective on the impact of NOAHH’s homeownership program.
“One of the things Habitat does that is critical is sweat equity,” said Robert Baer, Innovation and Product Development Manager at Fidelity. “If you’ve got to put skin in the game, you’re way more committed to make sure it works out. When you go to a meeting and hear a family’s matriarch or patriarch talk about what getting a home means for them, you have to get involved. We definitely want to help people who are willing to put their own time in. We have no problem helping people who want to help themselves.”
Fidelity has also been involved in build days and special events. For the 2015 Habitat AmeriCorps Build-A-Thon on America Street, they sponsored a home and brought out a grill and cooked for special guests on site. During builds, like most volunteers, they had the chance to connect with partner families before they were paying their mortgages.
“My favorite part of being on a build is being with partner families,” said Katie. “Most builds I have been on, I had the pleasure of talking to them and understanding where they are. Not only are they appreciative, they are so hard working. All of them have jobs keeping them busy and families keeping them busy, and they are still out there on Habitat builds with smiles on their faces and amazing stories about their journeys. They have excitement in their eyes, especially if you’re working on their house.”