This is my final National Housing Trust President’s Message. As I hope you know by now, I’ll soon be stepping down and my successor, Priya Jayachandran, will take over. All good!
There is a Sufi saying that the secret to life satisfaction is patience, forbearance and generosity. True enough. But I would add ‘gratitude.’
More than 40 years have passed since I became a VISTA in Topeka, Kansas, organizing residents in newly built HUD Section 236 apartments. I truly loved it. I suppose one could say that I chose affordable housing. Honestly, it feels like affordable housing chose me.
After a stint as Legal Aid lawyer and housing official, I caught a lucky break. Simultaneously, Tom Bradley (who I was serving as City Housing Coordinator/Deputy Mayor ) decided not to seek another term as Mayor of Los Angeles and the position of the Executive Director of the National Housing Trust in DC became vacant. The NHT Board’s declaration that the Trust must “think” and “do,” synthesizing sound public policy with affordable housing development and lending, was enormously compelling.
Truthfully, our family thought we might be here in DC for no more than two years. But two became five and five became ten and, in a blink of an eye, nearly a quarter century passed. Now, I ride off and hand off to Priya Jayachandran, who I am confident will take the Trust to a new level.
In life, you hope to do something meaningful, work with intelligent, caring people and have fun. I had all that and more here at the Trust. I’m so very grateful to have been supported by a caring, passionate Board and an incredibly talented, skilled and fun-loving staff. I stand on their shoulders.
There are cynics who declare what we do is irrelevant. Promise me this: when someone says something like that to you, tell them to get the hell out of the way because you are busy trying to make a difference!
Everyone suggests you love your work. It occurs to me that if one loves what one does, it’s not work. It’s just love.