Supporters and advocates of affordable housing convened at NYC’s Pier Sixty on Tuesday, November 12th at the Enterprise Gotham City Gala to celebrate the work of the Enterprise Foundation and the community organizations that they support throughout the city. Enterprise Community Partners, committed to the goal of creating affordable homes for all New Yorkers so that every individual and family has a stable, sustainable, affordable place to call home, has been a major supporter of the work of University Neighborhood Housing Program (UNHP). They provide grant support for our Building Indicator Project (BIP) and sponsor the low income tax credits that make our affordable housing development work possible.
Jim Buckley, UNHP’s founding and current Executive Director, was the recipient of the Andrew Heiskell Community Renaissance Award in honor of his 35 years of work to improve the neighborhoods of the Northwest Bronx. The Enterprise Gotham City Gala energized all participants to continue their commitment to housing affordability. Shola Olatoye, Vice President of Enterprise New York, stressed that even as we celebrate so many successes in creating homes for low-income people, there are enough homeless children in NYC to fill both Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center. Golden Globe award winning actor and grandson of Enterprise founder Jim Rouse, Edward Norton garnered a round of applause when he stated that he is “an advocate of affordable housing who acts on the side.” He spoke eloquently about how a decent, affordable home was the basis for a good life. Andy Morris, a resident of affordable housing run by CAMBA, moved everyone with his testimony about what his apartment meant to him and the lifeline it offered during his health and financial struggles.
Jim, always the organizer, offered a call to action about the challenges facing people today, saying “right now, the door we came through to affordable education, affordable housing and good jobs is barely open for many New Yorkers. I don’t have the answer. But, I know that as we have time and time again, by working together we can find answers, and we can grow strong enough to not just keep the door of opportunity ajar, but to push it wide open.”
Jim started working in 1976 for the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition as a tenant and community organizer. Working with this dedicated group of community leaders and organizers shaped his commitment to ensuring that community members had a voice in what was going on in their buildings and neighborhoods. In 1989, Jim became the founding director of UNHP and the strong working relationships fostered through his previous reinvestment work established the basis for much of UNHP’s early lending work. UNHP’s mission is to create, preserve and improve affordable housing in the Northwest Bronx and New York City and to achieve that mission, Jim has organized a staff team that administers a loan fund, develops affordable housing, and provides technical assistance to community leaders and neighborhood groups. UNHP also serves Northwest Bronx residents through its Resource Center providing financial education, tax preparation, foreclosure prevention and home-buyer assistance.
Congratulations to Jim, Enterprise and our many partners that have made our successes over the past 30 years possible.