Photo credit via Twitter @ RD_Texas
First, it’s always great to gather with the most inspirational group of affordable housing people in the country – those who have committed to work in the mutual self-help housing program. Thanks for this great opportunity.
I addressed the last national conference nearly five years ago in San Antonio, making remarks about how those of us who work in the self-help program share a specific DNA, and how that critical gene informs our everyday actions.
This time I’m going to take a different tack; one that acknowledges our history but also takes stock of our present, and encourages us all to think about the future of the self-help program.
My organization Self-Help Enterprises has been at this for a long time. We just celebrated our 55th year as a nonprofit, but the earliest pilot projects began in 1963 in a little community of just over 1,000 residents called Goshen, California in Tulare County. I recently came across a study done by Richard Margolis, who was an early chronicler of mutual self-help housing, dated June 5, 1967. It was entitled “A Preliminary Look at the Impact of Self-Help Housing upon Participating Families”, and it sought to tabulate results of one of the first building groups in Goshen as the program was gaining traction nationally. In fact, he reported that there were nearly 50 organizations with self-help housing programs around the country during the time of the report.