Columbia-based Enterprise Community Partners, a major contributor to affordable-housing efforts nationwide, will head into its 25th year with a new chief executive, the nonprofit said yesterday.
Doris W. Koo, executive vice president of the group and a longtime community developer, will take over Jan. 1 from Bart Harvey, who will stay on full time in his position as chairman. Koo will be the third person to lead the day-to-day operations of Enterprise, co-founded and initially run by Columbia developer James W. Rouse.
The group, formerly called the Enterprise Foundation, employs 475 people. It helps organizations in cities across the United States fund and build homes that low-income residents can afford.
Never an easy mission, such affordable-housing work has become increasingly difficult in recent years as federal funding lagged and home prices soared. But Enterprise has ramped up its loans, grants and other investments to $1 billion a year, helped by for-profit subsidiaries that plow money back into the effort.
Last month, it dedicated the 200,000th home it has helped to build or finance. One of its focus cities is Baltimore, where its projects have included redevelopment in Sandtown-Winchester.
Koo joined Enterprise in 2001, after serving as deputy executive director of the Seattle Housing Authority and the first executive director of Asian Americans for Equality in New York. The latter group's work includes affordable-housing development.
"She has unparalleled passion and commitment to what we're doing, and a great understanding of what low-income people go through in this country," said Harvey, who joined Enterprise in 1984 and took over from Rouse in 1993. Local directors of the group's various U.S. offices "started cheering" when they learned that she was next in line, he said.
Koo, a Seattle resident, was selected after a national search that began with a screened candidate pool of 17.
Koo was traveling yesterday and could not be reached for comment.
Harvey, 57, said he had asked the board to find a new CEO "while I'm still healthy and relatively young" to ensure an orderly transition. He hasn't set a date to step down as chairman but expects that he will remain with Enterprise at least through 2007.
"You'll see continuity in our drive towards size, scale, impact and sustainability of our efforts," he said.
Koo currently oversees Enterprise's operations in Washington state, Oregon, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas, as well as its Gulf Coast rebuilding initiative.
Enterprise has said that it will provide $200 million to support the development of more than 10,000 homes throughout the hurricane-devastated Gulf Coast.
"They've been a critical element of getting financing into urban areas for housing," said Barbara Miller, executive director of the Montana-based National Affordable Housing Network. "We think they're great."