By Harold Simon Posted on July 25, 2011
In 1975, the founders of _Shelterforce_ took a leap of faith. They understood the profound problems facing distressed communities struggling to find decent housing and opportunity. They started a publication that would examine and promote solutions to these problems and they believed _Shelterforce_ would endure until the problems were gone.
Sadly, many of those same problems remain with us 36 years later. But _Shelterforce_ endures, continuing to fight the battle for social justice along side our readers and the whole community development world. This issue marks our anniversary, but in a different way.
When we mark the passing of time, we often look back. This is necessary and valuable. But progress comes when new ideas are born and nurtured to fruition, and when the enthusiasm, commitment, and insight of young leaders is let loose . . . the way it was 36 years ago.
And so for our 6 times 6 anniversary, we begin by letting six exceptional young community development leaders describe how they see the CD world and what’s needed to turn every place into a community of opportunity. They come from different parts of the country and represent some of the rich tapestry of America. They are accomplished, determined, and optimistic, while dealing with today’s realities head on. As I approach my seventh decade of life, I’m inspired by them and look forward to a better future.
To look forward is to imagine what could be. We follow our young leaders with six radical ideas for a new housing policy in America. Ideas that some will agree with and others not—passionately not. We invite you to weigh in on these ideas and offer some of your own.
h6. Present at the Creation
Recently, Conrad Egan retired from the National Housing Conference, and we had the pleasure of speaking with him (see page 24). He’s one of a handful of housing advocates who have experience as an organizer, developer, government official, and public policy advocate. From his early years receiving guidance from Saul Alinsky to his current role as an advisor to the Virginia governor, Conrad’s experience spans over 40 years of affordable housing in America.
h6. What It Takes
We are often reminded that communities need more than housing to prosper. They need a thriving local economy and residents with the skills to become part of it. Such a community provides services and goods that support daily life, and offers residents more than subsistence; it gives them reasons to stay and pleasure in being there. More and more, community developers are stepping up to create such places. In this issue, we look at a number of groups working on pieces of that puzzle, from community land trusts adapting their model to commercial development, to CDCs choosing pivotal revitalization projects, to CDCs and CDFIs stepping into economic development deal when banks are stepping out.
h6. Housing for People, Not for Profit
Our cover graphic was done for _Shelterforce_ in 1980 by Kat Brennan; it represented the experience of low-income tenants and homeowners who were, at the time, at the mercy of speculators, slumlords, and unscrupulous mortgage brokers. Sound familiar? But in spite of today’s political and economic environment, there is hope. Just start reading on page 8 and I’m sure you’ll agree.
h6. Thank You
While the founders have moved on to other social justice roles (see page 21), _Shelterforce_ is still here, thanks to the continuing belief in our work by those founders, the thousands of hours that hundreds of talented hundreds writers have contributed to our pages over the years, and the financial support that has allowed us to keep our doors open continuously since 1975. Over the past 36 years, we’ve had numerous supporters. While we can only recognize a handful here, every bit of support has been sustaining and appreciated. Thank you everyone.
We are especially grateful to:
Bank of America Foundation
Annie E. Casey Foundation
JPMorgan Chase Foundation
F. B. Heron Foundation
W. & F. Hewlett Foundation
C. S. Mott Foundation
Sovereign Bank Foundation
We also thank our individual donors for their generous support over the years. For their recent support, we are especially grateful to:
Margaret Dee Hellring and
Phyllis Salowe-Kaye and
Richard D. Sauer
Diane Sterner and Frank Cincotta
Robert O. Zdenek
Harold Simon is executive director of the National Housing Institute and publisher of Shelterforce. Email Harold at firstname.lastname@example.org