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Detroit’s fight to provide more thriving communities

NHC Board of Governors member Steve O’Connor and I recently attended the Quicken Loans Consumer Affairs Advisory Council meeting in Detroit. Steve leads the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Consumer Affairs Advisory Council and is senior vice president for their Affordable Housing Initiatives. We got in early to tour Detroit’s most challenging neighborhoods and met some of the people on the front line of the fight to provide “an equal opportunity to live in quality, affordable housing in a thriving community.”

One of these leaders is Linda Smith, the Executive Director of U-SNAP-BAC. I first met Linda at her East Side office in 1996 when I led Fannie Mae’s Detroit Partnership Office. Recently, she was honored as part of the Detroit Revitalization Team at the 2018 Housing Visionary Awards Gala. On our tour she showed us the tremendous obstacles her neighbors face and the truly inspiring work they are doing. We saw cutting edge manufactured housing for urban infill, and low-cost quality homes built for people like Ms. Anita, who we ran into as she put Thanksgiving holiday decorations up in her front yard.

MBA’s Steve O’Connor (middle) with Linda Smith of U-SNAP-BAC (left), and Linda’s neighbor Ms. Anita (right).
Aerial view of Morningstar neighborhood by Google Maps – Manufactured infill on East Side of Detroit.


Here at the National Housing Conference, we are so grateful for the opportunity to serve our members across the country who engage in the hard work of developing and building affordable housing, as well as policy development and advocacy. Without our banking members none of this important work could be leveraged and millions of Americans would be without homes to rent or buy. Recently, Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase was featured on CBS 60 Minutes for his commitment to Detroit, and I just wrote an article in the Detroit News about the continuing commitment of Dan Gilbert, co-founder of Quicken Loans. Together they bring the debt and equity that fuels Detroit’s recovery. On the advocacy and civil rights front, Lisa Rice of the National Fair Housing Alliance is leading a multi-city Black Homeownership Initiative which she kicked off earlier this month. And developers like LISC, Enterprise Community Partners, the Housing Partnership Equity Trust, and Eden Housing, to name just a few, are building and innovating in every state of the nation.

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