Foundation announces affordable-housing plan

Enterprise campaigns to help create homes for low-income Americans

October 26, 2002|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

The nonprofit Enterprise Foundation of Columbia is launching a national campaign to raise $125 million over the next five years to build or renovate 70,000 dwellings and fund other initiatives in America's neediest communities.

Enterprise's subsidiaries expect to use the $125 million to raise another $2.5 billion of investment capital over the same period.

The two-pronged campaign is the most ambitious in Enterprise's 20-year history. Besides resulting in the construction or rehabilitation of the 70,000 dwellings, including several thousand in Baltimore, it would help fund a range of community initiatives from child care to job training.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer F. Barton Harvey III plans to announce the campaign nationally at Enterprise's fall conference in Dallas next week.

Before launching this public phase of its campaign, he said, Enterprise has raised more than $70 million of the $125 million goal, and $1.5 billion of its $2.5 billion goal.

"This is exciting because we know how far these dollars go to help so many families and rebuild so many communities," he said. "Today, more than ever, we cannot and will not allow our communities to crumble."

Builders will create approximately one million new dwellings in America this year, but only a fraction of them will be for low-income residents. More than 750,000 people are homeless in the United States on any given day; 13 million families are struggling to afford a home; and 11 million children wake up every day in substandard housing, according to advocates for affordable housing.

Developer James Rouse and his wife, Patty, founded Enterprise in 1982 to provide "fit and affordable" housing for low-income Americans throughout the country. Since then, Enterprise has become one of the largest providers of affordable housing in the nation, committing $4.1 billion in loans, grants and equity to build or renovate 135,000 homes nationwide for more than 250,000 people.

With 459 employees in 16 offices, it also has broadened its efforts beyond bricks and mortar to address social needs associated with rebuilding communities. It works with partners and a network of more than 2,200 community-based organizations in 800 U.S. locations.

"The Enterprise Foundation's fund-raising campaign will raise much-needed money to continue building better neighborhoods" through affordable housing development and strengthening community-based organizations, said Douglas W. Nelson, president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Enterprise "brings a connection to local nonprofit organizations that is vital," said Franklin D. Raines, chairman and chief executive officer of the Federal National Mortgage Association, or Fannie Mae, a mortgage investor that works closely with Enterprise. "Knowing how to mobilize resources, help reach consensus and win trust in the community are critical."

`Carrying the torch'

Although the Rouses laid "an impressive foundation" 20 years ago, too many families still face "inadequate and unsafe housing conditions," Harvey said. "The Enterprise Foundation is intent on carrying the torch to continue to make strides in lending, development, mortgage banking, preservation, employment and child care."

Past Enterprise fund drives have raised $25 million and $75 million; the new goal grew out of a planning exercise undertaken by the organization last year. The $125 million level was chosen, Harvey said, because that is the minimum Enterprise's leaders believe they need to carry out their mission over the next five years.

James Rouse died in 1996, but his wife continues to devote her time and energy to Enterprise, serving without remuneration as vice president and secretary of its board. Enterprise, which is not an endowed foundation, spends 88 cents of every dollar on community development programs.

"Jim and I saw the desperate conditions in so many communities that were depriving people of their hopes and dreams," Patty Rouse said. "We wanted to make a difference, and Jim's determination to do so created a momentum that has grown today into a vibrant and committed organization. I am proud of my husband's legacy and the people from all walks of life who have joined us in our efforts."

Harvey said the money raised in the new campaign will support initiatives in cities where Enterprise has a presence.

Largely because James Rouse lived and worked in Baltimore for much of his life and because Enterprise's headquarters is close by, Baltimore has received more attention and investment from Enterprise than any other city its size.

Enterprise's leaders calculate that the organization has invested $452 million in Baltimore since 1986. That translates to approximately 8,000 dwellings built or renovated for low-income residents throughout the city.

Ambitious project

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