$78 million housing campaign launched by Rouse foundation

November 17, 1994|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Sun Staff Writer

The Columbia-based Enterprise Foundation launched a five-year, $78 million fund-raising campaign in New York City yesterday to improve housing for the poor nationwide and to replicate its Sandtown-Winchester revitalization project in West Baltimore.

The 12-year-old nonprofit foundation, founded by Columbia's developer and urban planner James W. Rouse and his wife, Patty, also established a separate $2 million "Tribute Fund" in Mr. Rouse's name to support "neighborhood transformation" projects, such as Sandtown, and to start new ones along the same lines in cities across the nation.

The foundation will solicit contributions from corporations, foundations and individuals. It already has commitments for $23 million.

The $78 million campaign, titled "Communities for Change: New Homes, New Hope," aims to rebuild distressed communities by developing affordable housing for low-income residents and by providing services, including employment opportunities, to help raise residents out of poverty.

"We are endeavoring over the next five years to share what we know works with others and encourage them to follow through," F. Barton Harvey III, chairman and chief executive officer of the Enterprise Foundation, said yesterday from the campaign kickoff event in New York, where federal Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry G. Cisneros was the keynote speaker.

"Obviously there are deep long-term problems in American cities," Mr. Harvey said. "We'll have large-scale demonstrations to show that this is a wise investment to make. But we alone can only show what can be done. It will take a concerted public and private effort together if we're truly going to change conditions in distressed communities."

The Enterprise Foundation wants to make the 4-year-old Sandtown-Winchester revitalization project a national model. The 72-square-block community has 5,000 largely dilapidated dwellings and a high percentage of residents who earn less than $10,000 per year or are unemployed.

Speaking to a group of minority business owners in Howard County recently, Mr. Rouse highlighted the West Baltimore project as a beacon of hope amid a "pervasive state of mind in America that says nothing can be done about our cities and the poor people who live there."

In a cooperative effort with Sandtown residents and other public and private agencies, Mr. Rouse said, the foundation is developing ways to transform the low-income community's "dysfunctional systems" -- dilapidated housing, high unemployment, failing schools, rampant crime and drug problems, and a lack of health care, child care and other human services.

"It's up to The Enterprise Foundation to prove that these problems are correctable," Mr. Rouse said. "It would cost society less if we had neighborhoods where people live good lives rather than neighborhoods burdened with the costs of these problems."

The Enterprise Foundation has started a similar project in the Overtown section of Miami and is considering expanding the program to about 10 other cities. The Jim Rouse Tribute Fund will support the foundation's Neighborhood Transformation Center, established to help communities launch programs using Sandtown as a model.

The larger "Communities for Change" campaign will fund housing development, training for community groups and educational programs as well as providing additional funds for the Neighborhood Transformation Center.

Overall, the Enterprise Foundation works with more than 500 community nonprofit organizations in 150 cities, providing technical and financial assistance, in an effort to help some of the roughly 40 million U.S. families earning less than $10,000 annually. The foundation says it has assisted in the development of more than 42,000 affordable homes for about 120,000 people.

For information on the campaign, contact Jennifer Hammand, director of resource development for the Enterprise Foundation, 10227 Wincopin Circle, Suite 500, Columbia, 21044, or call (410) 715-2225.

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