The National Housing Institute supports the individuals and organizations that work to create healthy and thriving communities. NHI is at the intersection of theory, practice and policy in community development. We support the field through our quarterly magazine, Shelterforce, as well as through research, convenings, and our community development blog, Rooflines.
 

ROOFLINES

blogging beyond bricks & mortar
Congress Agrees: Collaborative, Comprehensive Care Needed For Rural Vets

Rural America has a strong history of protecting our country. In fact, as highlighted in a …

Posted by Eric Oberdorfer on 16 Apr 14

February 18  ·  Industry News »

Geoffrey Canada to Leave Harlem Children’s Zone

Geoffrey Cananda will step down from his role as chief executive of the Harlem Children’s Zone in June, the New York Times reported. more

February 11  ·  Industry News »

Cristina Jimenez Recognized in Forbes

Cristina Jimenez, managing director of United We Dream, was recognized in Forbes Magazine as one of the top 30 law and policy influencers under 30. more

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RESEARCH »

Toes in the Water

Nonprofit Community Development Real-Estate and Mortgage Brokerage Programs

NHI’s latest research report identifies state regulatory obstacles and assesses the future of a new direction in promoting homeownership

Web Exclusive »

Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation

We first met Darren Walker about 15 years ago while planning an issue on faith-based development. Darren was the chief operating officer of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, the storied community development arm of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City. We asked Darren to write an article that was not simply a cheerleader’s promotion of church-based CDCs, but a realistic assessment of the benefits and challenges to an institution embarking on that path.

Darren was optimistic and enthusiastic about the work he was doing at Abyssinian creating hundreds of units of affordable housing in Harlem. But he was pragmatic and realistic also. His article encouraged organizations to temper the enthusiasm necessary to even consider this work with a realistic analysis of an organization’s capacities and a clear-eyed examination of their assumptions about the rewards of creating a CDC.

Darren approached his work enthusiastically, I think, because he had visceral understanding of the challenges low-income folks had and the opportunities that were available to them with the right help. The kind of help that the stability of an affordable home could provide. His understanding came from personal experience that would inform his work wherever it took him, from law school to international finance, from a storefront afterschool program and Abyssinian to the Rockefeller and Ford foundations.

When we sat down with Darren on March 18 to conduct this interview, we were glad to see that enthusiasm, optimism, and pragmatism were as strong as ever as he starts his leadership of one of the world’s largest foundations.