On Nov. 16, over 100 housing activists met with experts from government, universities, and community development organizations at the NHI Conference, Saving Affordable Housing: A Critical Examination of Successful Models.
Successful local preservation initiatives involve different types of properties and local markets, subject to different government regulations and financing. One thing they have in common is people committed to saving the affordable housing supply using creative, innovative action. Their action has involved government working in partnership with the nonprofit and private sectors. This conference took a close look at existing at-risk, inner-city subsidized and affordable housing and asked:
- Under what conditions can nonprofit community-based solutions succeed in saving endangered inner-city housing?
- What is necessary for the long-term sustainability of resident and community owned low-income housing?
- Why do some groups succeed and others fail?
- What can we learn from the motivations, leadership, and organizational structure of those groups that succeed?
- Is there something we can call the state-of-the-art in affordable housing preservation?
- Are known successes replicable?
After keynote remarks by Helen Dunlap, deputy assistant secretary for Multifamily Housing, four consecutive workshops were held: The Community Context; Financial Viability; Organization and Management; and Technical Assistance and Local Government Programs.
Workshop panelist and presenters included: Mossik Hacobian and Jack Geary of Urban Edge in Boston, Alex Schwartz of the New School for Social Research, Marty Shaloo of ACORN, Rikki Spears of the Low Income Housing Information Service, Willie Jones and Judith Weber of Community Builders, Mike Gondek of CEDAC, Andrew Reicher of UHAB, and William Brach, Preston Pinkett III, Ronald Lawson, Donna Rose, John Davis, Carole Norris, Peggy Huchet, Susan Rice—representing government agencies, financial and academic institutions and community organizations.
At the Legal Services of New Jersey annual conference on Nov. 17, John Atlas, NHI president and director of Passaic County Legal Aid Society, received an award for his lifetime service to the poor. Legal Services of New Jersey recognized Atlas for his many years of work and his advocacy in the area of housing and community development. Commenting on the award, Atlas said, “For me, fighting to eliminate poverty and help the poor is a labor of love. But you have to be a long distance runner.”
Both Atlas and NHI board member Peter Dreier were quoted extensively in an article on mortgage interest deductions—”Home Inequity”—in the Summer 1994 issue of Common Cause Magazine.