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Unprecedented Commitment to Community Renewal

Commitment to Community Renewal

Washington, D.C. - March 13, 1997 - Leaders of four of the nation’s major nonprofit providers and supporters of affordable housing today pledged to create $13 billion worth of housing over the next four years and transform neighborhoods and lives in struggling communities nationwide. They also challenged Congress and the nation to match their commitment.

For the first time, Habitat for Humanity International, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), The Enterprise Foundation and the National NeighborWorks® Network have joined together in an unprecedented commitment that recognizes both the quiet revolution that has restored communities once thought beyond repair, and the 10.5 million families still in need of quality shelter. This investment will create nearly 200,000 affordable homes and apartments in urban, suburban and rural communities nationwide and will generate tens of thousands of new jobs.

“We know the potential that exists in our society to make it possible for every person to have a decent place to live,” Habitat founder and president Millard Fuller said at a press conference at the National Press Club announcing the commitment. “We experience the potential every day. It is in hundreds of thousands of volunteers who work on Habitat homes; it is in the Habitat homeowner partners who continue to participate long after they complete their sweat equity; it is in the local community Habitat partners – churches and other religious organizations, businesses, city and county leaders and civic groups; and it is in the state, regional and national groups – corporations, foundations, labor unions and other organizations. We are challenging them to contribute more than ever before.”

“While the challenge is enormous, one need only look at New York’s South Bronx, Cleveland’s Hough, Marshall Heights here in Washington, Sandtown/Winchester in Baltimore or Chicago’s Near West Side to know that restoration is possible,” said LISC president Paul S. Grogan. “Each of these communities, declared dead or dying a decade ago, is coming back. And the elements of continued success are within our reach – citizen initiative, private investment and a helping hand, not a handout, from government.”

Habitat, LISC, Enterprise and NeighborWorks®, the nation’s leaders in community development, work in 1,940 communities nationwide, and over the past four years have developed 136,600 affordable houses and apartments worth $8.9 billion.

“The unprecedented financial commitment announced today is possible in large part because of corporate America’s growing participation as partners – along with philanthropic organizations, government at all levels, national support organizations and community-based nonprofit developers – in the effort to revitalize communities nationwide,” said Bart Harvey, chairman and CEO of The Enterprise Foundation. “Finding innovative ways to stretch scarce public dollars is no simple task, but Enterprise and the more than 700 local nonprofits it serves are using those resources to generate real, lasting changes in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across America.”

The $13 billion commitment is projected to generate 193,800 affordable homes and apartments in 2,475 communities. The housing will range from multi-family rental rehabilitation to new construction for-sale single-family homes, and willbe developed in rural farm towns and dense urban inner cities.

These four organizations are inviting individuals, corporate leaders, philanthropic institutions and others to continue and expand their support of affordable housing. They also called upon Congress to preserve and expand programs that have stimulated private investment. Such programs include the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, Community Development Block Grants, the Community Reinvestment Act, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Rural Homeownership, HOME and the Housing Opportunity Program.

“Community-based development is truly a grassroots movement of the people,” Fuller said. “It is not government, although government is important. It is the partnerships with the public, private and nonprofit sectors working together that has brought us this far. I am convinced that these committed partners will now respond to new opportunities and that we must do even more than ever at this juncture. I am convinced we must and we will together answer the challenge. We celebrate what we have done thus far; we commit to even greater efforts in the months and years ahead.”