The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation will invest an additional $150 million in its Window of Opportunity initiative, which was created to preserve and improve at least 300,000 units of affordable rental housing in the United States. The foundation’s goal is to encourage policy reforms that reverse the loss of affordable privately owned rental homes. By the end of 2007, Window of Opportunity will have helped renew nearly 50,000 affordable rental homes. nhi.org/go/macfound.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is providing 11 grants, totally more than $4.5 million, to the Sound Families Initiative to expand housing and services for families in the Seattle area that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The initiative, created in 2000, has reached its goal of tripling the amount of service-enriched housing in the region. nhi.org/go/gatesfoundation.
The Genesee County Land Bank (GCLB) was the winner of the 2007 Fannie Mae Foundation Innovations Award in Affordable Housing. The efforts of the Michigan-based organization have led to increased property values of more than $112 million. GCLB has worked to demolish blighted structures, green vacant lots, and rehabilitate and rebuild vacant and deteriorating properties in Flint, one of the most underinvested cities in the county. Funded through an $8 million land-reutilization fund and a $12 million bond, the GCLB has demolished more than 800 abandoned properties and reconstructed 90 affordable rentals and 80 single-family homes. nhi.org/go/innovationsaward.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded $1 million to New America Media (NAM) to develop HUD’s first national media campaign about discriminatory lending. NAM, a nationwide association of ethnic media organizations, will produce television, radio, and print advertisements to educate the public about their rights under the Fair Housing Act. Kim Kendrick, HUD’s assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said there were more than 10,000 housing-discrimination complaints filed in 2006. nhi.org/go/hud.
After eight years as the founding executive director and CEO of Smart Growth America, Don Chen is stepping down to join the Ford Foundation as a Community Development program officer. Chen will manage a substantial grants portfolio and lead efforts to shape a new strategy for the foundation’s community-development work.
Doris W. Koo, president and CEO of Enterprise Community Partners, received the Famicos Foundation Visionary Award for Enterprise’s work to help house the chronic homeless through the Housing First Initiative in Cleveland. The award goes to individuals who have led the way in addressing some of greater Cleveland’s most persistent housing and community-development challenges with long-term, cooperative solutions.
The National Housing and Rehabilitation Association (NH&RA) honored two Boston housing leaders for their dedication to providing affordable housing for low-income families in Massachusetts. NH&RA presented the Vision Award to Amy Anthony, housing advocate and preservationist, and Herb Collins, real-estate developer. Anthony is executive director of Preservation of Affordable Housing and has served as secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Communities and Development and on the National Housing Task Force, where she was instrumental in the creation of federal housing policy, including the HOME program. Collins is chairman and CEO of Collins & Company, LLC, a housing-development firm that preserves existing affordable housing.
The Orton Family Foundation named Michael Wood-Lewis winner of the 2007 Innovator in Place Award for his Front Porch Forum, a free online service based in Burlington, Vt., that promotes social and community capacity. The award honors under-recognized grass-roots community activists and leaders. In 2006, Wood-Lewis and his wife Valerie founded Front Porch Forum, which allows citizens to connect with each other through web postings.
Affordable-housing advocate Clara Fox died in November at the age of 90. Fox, founder of the Settlement Housing Fund, which houses 2,200 families in New York City, was a champion of subsidized housing and a critic of the federal government’s “incredible indifference” to it. Housing advocates credit her with the idea of combining social services with low- and moderate-income housing. She also was the first to train tenants on how to manage a coop building when massive cooperative conversions took place in New York in the 1960s. Until her death, Fox served as co-chairwoman the New York Housing Conference, a coalition of more than 70 housing organizations, professionals, and funders.
Erik Hanberg is the Executive Director of the City Club of Tacoma and author of The Little Book of Gold.