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ansforming Communities 2018 ANNUAL REPORT ... 2 | Better Housing Coalition Better Homes.Better Communities.

Aug 28, 2020




  • 2 0 1 8 A N N U A L R E P O R T

    Years of Changi

    ng Lives &

    Transfo rming C

    ommun ities

  • 2 | Better Housing Coalition Better Homes. Better Communities. Better Lives. | 3

    30 YEARS AGO, gas sold for 96 cents a gallon. A loaf of bread was 61 cents and movie tickets were an expensive four dollars. There was no such thing as “craft beer” in Richmond; there were national brands, for example, Budweiser, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Miller.

    Banks like Signet, Central Fidelity, Crestar and Sovran dotted the cityscape. We bought gifts at Best Products, and clothes at Miller & Rhoads and Thalhimers. We shopped for groceries at Ukrop’s – but not on Sunday. We went to Circuit City for technology (and by the way, we did this shopping in person).

    Speaking of technology, there were no MacBooks, no iPads. The laptop weighed 14 pounds and cost almost $5,000 – out of reach for most consumers. Likewise, the cellular phone weighed almost two pounds and cost $2,500. For that price, it did one thing: call other people. So much has changed!

    One thing that hasn’t changed is the need for more affordable housing for families of modest means. BHC is honored to have played a part in building, maintaining, and advocating for this since our humble beginnings with three staff members 30 years ago. Since that time, we have grown to a staff of 75; served 15,000 residents; invested a total of $250 million in real estate developments across Greater Richmond; and now return $835,000 in real estate taxes every year to the local economy.

    We know our work is important because we see the results of our efforts. In 2018, 1,023 residents took part in our free resident services programs, aimed at better economic and physical security for our families. We’re happy to say that our proactive eviction prevention program resulted in a nearly 20% reduction in evictions over the previous year. This is good for family stabilization, as well as for business. Our educational and vocational services for youth and adults have resulted in more residents attending – and staying in – school; and getting higher-paying jobs. Our seniors are eating better and living longer due to their participation in our health and wellness programs.

    Fighting Poverty Brick by Brick We’re happy to say that our proactive eviction prevention program resulted in a nearly 20% reduction in evictions over the previous year.

    From left: President & CEO Greta Harris, co-founder Carter McDowell, and Board Chair R. Wheatley McDowell.

    R. Wheatley McDowell BHC BOARD CHAIR

    Greta J. Harris BHC PRESIDENT & CEO


    None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the help of our many service partners, our public, corporate and foundation funders, and individual donors and friends. Thank you.

    It’s important to take a look back, but not linger too long. We are nearing the end of a three-year strategic plan designed to strengthen staff and resources, and prepare us for growth. Now, we turn our gaze to the next five years, in which we focus on building our real estate portfolio through a combination of acquisition and new construction. With each new development comes more residents, and more opportunities to serve.

    As we look to the next 30 years, we’re excited about the possibilities, and our partners of tomorrow who will get us there. We hope you are too. Thank you so much for your support for and commitment to our work – you are making a huge difference in the lives of our fellow neighbors.



    30 Years Impact Report 4

    Celebrating Our Past 5

    2018 Impact Report 16

    BHC Financials 17

    Donor Recognition 18

    BHC Leadership 24

    About BHC 26

  • 4 | Better Housing Coalition Better Homes. Better Communities. Better Lives. | 5

    Celebrating Our Past Looking back at Better Housing Coalition’s development ‘firsts,’ as told by those who were there at the time


    rental communities

    (9 for seniors of modest means)

    single-family homes built and sold to first-time homebuyers

    in annual real estate taxes generated for the

    local economy

    short-term jobs created

    long-term jobs created

    high-quality, affordable rental units

    square feet of commercial property developed

    More than




    4,250 150



    residents served

    15,000 in real estate developments

    A total of nearly

    $250 million

    B e t t e r H o u s i n g C o a l i t i o n | I m p a c t R e p o r t

    Better Homes. Better Communities. Better Lives. | 5

  • 6 | Better Housing Coalition Better Homes. Better Communities. Better Lives. | 7

    Told by T.K. Somanath

    Better Housing Coalition President & CEO 1989 - 2013

    This was our first major development. It was an exciting day which I think the picture shows. These blocks were tough - the homes were run down, there was a lot of drug trafficking there. At the stoplight on that corner, people slowed down but didn’t stop because of the illegal activities. The neighbors were tired of the crime, and we worked hand in hand with them to plan the development.

    Carter (McDowell) and I organized the neighbors. (Pro Football Hall of Famer) Willie Lanier helped us a great deal. He grew up in that neighborhood and knew many of the residents. He knocked on doors with us. We received strong opposition from adjoining neighborhoods, because they were afraid of what we were doing. We were ultimately successful because we had such good support from the residents, Mayor Kenney, Senator Marsh and Councilman Richardson. The transformation of those blocks really became the catalyst for the revitalization of Cary Street, all the way to VCU.


    » Location: Fan District, Richmond

    » Description: 86 apartments, 8 homes, 6 blocks

    » Cost: $7.3 Million

    » Partners: City of Richmond, VHDA, DHCD, National Equity Fund, First Union Bank,

    F&M Bank, HUD, LISC

    Cary 2000

    “The transformation of those blocks really became the catalyst for revitalization of Cary Street, all the way to VCU.”


    My hope and vision for the future: For Richmond to be an inclusive and diverse city, offering opportunities for all residents at all ages to achieve greater economic capacity and health outcomes through access to safe and affordable housing, education, health care and transportation.

    Advice for future leaders: First, have a vision. Vision is important. Do the work from the bottom up. If you have strong grassroots support, you can overcome a lot of obstacles.

    Cary West Groundbreaking, 1991. From left: John Richey, BHC Board; BHC Co-founder Mary Tyler McClenahan; Jane Henderson, First Union Bank; Mayor Walter Kenney (hat in hand); Cary Street residents; Councilman Chuck Richardson; T.K. Somanath (BHC hat); Mr. Willis, Your Neighbors Civic Association.

  • 8 | Better Housing Coalition Better Homes. Better Communities. Better Lives. | 9

    Told by Mary Thompson

    Community Leader and Church Hill Resident

    That’s the Jefferson Mews ribbon cutting. It was BHC’s first major project in Church Hill. Before, there was a big, abandoned supermarket there, and older homes that have since been renovated.

    I was emcee that day. It was hot, and looked like it was going to rain. Everybody kept looking at the clouds. I told them, “Don’t worry, it is not going to rain on our parade” – and it didn’t!

    My desire for the future of the neighborhood: Continue to improve. We have laid a foundation to build upon. We brought a neighborhood with about 85% blight almost back to what it once was. Utilize what we’ve put in place and build on it. Do better.

    To the builders of tomorrow, I say: Don’t give up. Always dream of seeing something better than it is.

    Jefferson Mews

    “The last years of my life will be the best years of my life, because I get to live in a place like this.”

    – J E F F E R S O N M E W S R E S I D E N T


    Jefferson Mews ribbon cutting, 1996. From left: Rick Gentry, RRHA; George Latimer, National Equity Fund; Mayor Leonidas Young; Mary Thompson; Resident, Jefferson Mews; T.K. Somanath, then BHC’s President & CEO; BHC Co-founder Mary Tyler McClenahan; Greta Harris, LISC; Dale Cannady, SunTrust; John Richey, VHDA; Councilwoman Viola Baskerville; Mike Etienne, City of Richmond.

    Told by Greta Harris

    BHC President & CEO, 2013 - Present

    I was working for LISC at the time. It was super hot that day, everyone was sweating. We were in the parking lot of Jefferson Mews, which was the first and largest example of resident-led community revitalization north of Broad Street; and the kickoff of BHC’s 25-year love affair with the Church Hill community.

    The woman in the flowered dress was a resident of the development. She said, “The last years of my life will be the best years of my life, because I get to live in a place like this.” Her statement still resonates with me today.

    Hopes for the future: I’d like to see the ideals that America was founded on to be rea