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Ten Years Later: An RV Tour Spawns the Transformative Impact of the Gulf Coast Housing Partnership
By Thomas Bledsoe, President and CEO, Housing Partnership Network
Ten years ago in October 2005, a determined group of Housing Partnership Network (HPN) members and staff commandeered an RV in Fort Myers, Florida to make the difficult journey to New Orleans. The city was still virtually inaccessible in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Our nationwide network had jumped into action after the storm with HPN members providing temporary shelter to thousands of evacuees in member-owned housing developments throughout the country. The goal of the RV reconnaissance trip was to meet with community and civic leaders as well as members in the region to determine if there was a way we could go beyond emergency assistance to play a more systemic and long-term role in the region’s redevelopment effort.
An Idea is Born
From these initial meetings, the strategy and leadership emerged to form the Gulf Coast Housing Partnership (GCHP). Our aim was to create an independent nonprofit—modeled after the best practices and learning of HPN members from around the country—to permanently fill the gap in the region for a high-capacity, mission-based developer capable of helping local partners rebuild after Katrina. Given the urgency of the situation, we had to move boldly and quickly. The membership and board discussed and approved the GCHP strategy at its December meeting, and the company was launched in January 2006.Read more