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Why HAND Chose to Place Racial Equity at the Center of Our Work

June 4, 2020
June 4, 2020

Without equivocation, HAND’s Board of Directors & Staff decries the manifestations of white supremacy and systemic racism upon which this country was founded and prevails today. Black lives matter. We say the names of our brothers and sisters whose lives were cut short in senseless brutality. We stand with their families in solidarity and affirm our commitment to remain dogged in our pursuit for justice.

Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. Philando Castile. Freddie Gray. Michael Brown. Korryn Gaines. Alton Sterling. Sandra Bland. Tamir Rice. Eric Garner. Shantel Davis. Trayvon Martin. Botham Jean. Their lives matter. Yet, there are countless others.

Prior to the ratification of the 14th Amendment, black lives were merely a fraction — an assigned value of three-fifths to be exact. Minimal progress has occurred to fully recognize and value black life. Four hundred years have passed, and black people are still fighting for their humanity, their freedom, their equality and now their survival. This country’s collective knee is still on the collective neck of black communities. All the while, a pandemic remains a lethal threat for people of color whose bodies have borne the burden of chronic disinvestment, active neglect, and continued insult resulting in toxic trauma and unrelenting stress and pain.

We remain committed to organizing you – our members, around an agenda focused on real paths toward a racially just and equitable region. We must rise to this moment. We must not be silent, rather boldly affirm our commitment to dismantle this vicious system of inequity.

HAND members last saw each other in person in March, when Dr. Ibram Kendi offered words for our racial equity cohort to reflect on. Today they seem to be more timely than ever:

“We have been taught that ignorance and hate lead to racist ideas, that lead to racist policies,” Kendi said. “If the fundamental problem is ignorance and hate, then your solutions are going to be focused on education, love and persuasion… The actual foundation of racism is not ignorance and hate, but self- interest, particularly economic and political and cultural. Self-interest drives racist policies that benefit that self-interest. When the policies are challenged because they produce inequalities, racist ideas spring up to justify those policies. Hate flows freely from there.”

Join us, HAND Members. Join us, as we rise up to meet this moment.

HAND Board of Directors & Staff

Let us rise to this moment.
Warning: some of the content below contains strong language which may be unsuitable for children.
  I just wanna live  
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Thoughts & Reflections from HAND Members, Ibram Kendi | Red Lines, White Papers, & Blue Prints: A Four-Part Learning Series Exploring the Dimensions of Racism and Strategies Towards Racial Equity

March 16, 2020
March 16, 2020


Many thanks to the cohort of 120 members & partners who joined us for the kickoff of Red Lines, White Papers, & Blue Prints: A Four-Part Learning Series Exploring the Dimensions of Racism and Strategies Towards Racial Equity in early March! Hosted at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Total Health, the first session laid the foundation for the series with the topic of Structural Racism. We were pleased to welcome New York Times Bestselling Author of How to Be An Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi, as the featured speaker. The powerful program delved into racism in its institutional and structural forms, and challenged cohort members to reflect on how racial equity can play a role in the work of affordable housing and community development.

We asked a few of our cohort members to share their initial reflections from the session:

  • Kahlil Gross, Senior Vice President–Director, City First Bank
  • Joanna Hoffschneider, Founder, Resolute Consulting LLC
  • John Spencer, CPA, HAND Founder & Senior Vice President, Victory Housing

More on what they had to say can be found below, followed by key moments from the speaker himself.

Thank you to our sponsors, Kaiser Permanente and Wells Fargo!


What struck you most about Mr. Kendi’s remarks? 
KG: His comment about needing to have hope in order to be a change agent is what has stuck with me the most. Our problems often look very bleak and overwhelming and it feels like people will never change enough to solve the problems we’re facing. Especially when you consider how long we’ve been dealing with them. What also struck me was his knowledge of how these issues present themselves globally. It reaffirms the common denominator I see in most effective change agents and that’s that they eventually approach these issues from a global perspective…or at least understand them from that perspective.

JH: Considering when our actions help an individual in need who may be oppressed by a racist power structure, versus when our actions actually work to change a racist power structure.  Acknowledging that while each of these actions are positive, they are not the same thing. We should not fool ourselves that individual help equates to systemic change.

JS: In some respects, Mr. Kendi’s remarks upset our affordable housing development paradigm by applying a different, and likely new, lens to the work we have been doing for years to preserve and create housing for low- and moderate-income families. While we all know the housing crisis has yet to be solved and is worse now facing new challenges in higher costs, reduced supply, gentrification and income equality, we also could take some pride in our successes along the way. Mr. Kendi’s remarks helped us understand we still have a long way to go and that instilling a racial equity lens in all that we do will truly help individuals, families and communities. To be an antiracist is to be an active participant in achieving racial equity.

If you had to describe how you felt leaving the program in one word, what would it be?  

KG: Cautiously-optimistic.

JH: Humbled.

JS: The most appropriate word for me would be “challenged.”  Though preserving and providing affordable housing is already demanding work, it is not enough to go work with the current processes and programs available.  Rather, you need to consider the outcomes of the housing and services you are providing, and if those outcomes are not equitable then you need to change those programs to truly achieve success.

Have you reflected on how structural racism impacts you in your career and other areas of your life? What are your initial observations?

KG: Absolutely.  It became obvious to me in grad school that the driving forces behind the community development industry is the white middle and upper-class establishment.  The solutions that come through the community development industry to address the problems in our neighborhoods don’t get funded or implemented until they understand the problem.  That means that the pace of progress, as it relates to most federal and philanthropic dollars, is always limited by their ability to view us as equal…needing the same systems, advantages and supports that they have.

JH: I’ve thought a lot about the twin concepts of individualization/generalization: When do we (I) observe a behavior by an individual (such as a homeowner) and see that behavior as representative of a group – most commonly a racial group?  When do I see an individual’s behavior as representing simply that individual? When do I benefit from these extrapolations myself?  When do I make them?  How do I hold myself accountable for the uncomfortable truth that I do make them?  And how can I challenge myself and others to see individual behaviors as just that?

JS: You definitely reflect on where you are in your life and that not everything you are or you have achieved is because of your own efforts. Whether it is the home and community you grew up in, the schools and educational opportunities you had, and the career ladder you followed, at some level you know that it was because of structural racism that was prevalent and perpetuated during those times in your life. I’m thankful that the area I’m from, the experiences I’ve had, and the career I chose, gave me opportunities to understand those disparities and try to do something about it.


Below are a few of Mr. Kendi’s noteworthy remarks:

On defining structural racism:

“When I think of structural racism, I think of the structure. What I think of is a set of collective policies – and really I define racism itself as a collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas.”

On the role of self interest in racist policies:

“We’ve been taught this narrative that institutions, individuals push policies because they’re ignorant and hateful – they hate Native people, they hate Asian people, they hate Black people or they’re just ignorant…so what we then need to do is teach them, is get them to start recognizing the human unity and love that persists…it sounds great, but the fact of the matter is what has always been behind structural racism has been self interest, has been economic self interest, has been political self interest, has been cultural self interest, and I think most Americans can understand that during the enslavement era people were enslaving people first and foremost to make money, and that by 1860 this small group of mega slave holders in the south who owned the vast majority of the four million Black people were the richest and most powerful group of people not in the United States, but in the world. Why were they engaged in this racial slavery? To make money – and they made lots of it…We’re still living in times of self interest…Back then it was literacy tests and grandfather clauses and poll taxes. Now it’s voter id laws, now it’s ‘let’s purge voters from voting rolls,’ now it’s ‘let’s cancel forms of early voting,’ now ‘let’s eliminate polling spots in Black and Latinx communities…'”

On the narrative of the American dream hurting Americans:

“…The narrative of the American dream itself, when it became extremely popular…that happened after World War II in the 1950s. What was happening in the 1950s in the sector? That is when you had the suburbanization of America. How did the suburbanization of America happen and who did it hurt? So when we look at for instance, the structure and the set of policies and then who benefitted from it – the actors who were not only critical in the expansion and the building of the suburbs, but the blockbusting of urban areas…the people who were benefitting the most were not black people who were forced, and Latinx people who were forced to stay in these urban centers…”



DC Comprehensive Plan Update

January 23, 2020
January 23, 2020

HAND Members & Stakeholders –

If you’ve been following along with our Regional Activations, you’ll know that the last quarter of 2019 was pretty eventful! In October, HAND, and its fellow members of the DC Housing Priorities Coalition, successfully advocated for key amendments that ensure affordable housing and the prevention of displacement are priorities of the DC Comprehensive (Comp) Plan. A recap can be found on our website.

As the primary document that guides what and where development occurs in the District for the next few decades, the DC Comp Plan has the power to stem the tide of economic and residential segregation. Mayor Bowser and the DC Office of Planning issued a draft Comprehensive Plan that, if approved, is a step in the right direction towards greater equity and opportunity.

Most recently, HAND sent a letter to the Office of Planning with comments to the last draft update. This letter emphasized HAND’s support of the amended Framework Element of the Comprehensive Plan as passed by the DC Council in October 2019, including its acknowledgement of the need for increased affordable housing and protections against displacement.

Learn more about the DC Comp Plan with this fact sheet.

HAND extends its gratitude to its Housing Priorities Coalition partners for their tireless efforts and commitment to advancing this critical document:

  • Enterprise Community Partners
  • DC Fiscal Policy Institute
  • Coalition for Non-Profit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED)
  • Somerset Development
  • Coalition for Smarter Growth
  • Greater Greater Washington
  • United Planning Organization
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)

We look forward to working with the above organizations as we continue to strive for a more equitable DC. Keep reading to hear from some of our coalition partners on the importance of the Comp Plan.

“The Comp Plan is DC’s foundational land use text. Revising it won’t change things overnight, or make housing more affordable, or more accessible, but without substantial changes to the Comp Plan—which determines the level of intensity of new development in DC, and where that new development goes—it’s impossible to redress some of the historic wrongs inherent in our land-use practices. The Comp Plan can increase the allowable density of the city, particularly in affluent, long-exclusive neighborhoods with robust amenities and services, which is necessary to increasing the amount of affordable housing built in those areas.”

– Alex Baca, Greater Greater Washington

“In October, the DC Council adopted into law a new Framework Element, or first chapter of the Comp Plan. This new element refocuses land use and development policy on affordable housing, preventing displacement of residents, and building a new racial and social equity lens into every aspect of the Comp Plan.”

– Cheryl Cort, Coalition for Smarter Growth

“The Comprehensive Plan sets a long-term vision for the physical growth and change of DC. It is critical that we update this foundational document to explicitly address the real-life issues District residents currently face: a severe lack of affordable housing, racial and economic segregation, and the displacement of lower-income residents. Now is the opportunity to make our priorities clear about how we want DC to develop and evolve in the years to come.”

– Adam Kent, DC LISC

“The Comprehensive Plan is DC’s guiding land use document, mandated by the 1973 Home Rule Act that gave the District a fully elected representative government. The Plan outlines an overall vision as well as specific policies to guide development in the city, and thus provides important direction about how and where the District will grow over time. If we can seize this opportunity and amend the Plan to set out a bold new vision for tackling our housing equity challenges as well as the climate crisis, it will create positive ripple effects across the region that will help to transform our housing and development policies for the 21st Century.”

-Patrick McAnaney, Somerset Development

“With so many struggling to make ends meet in an over-priced market in which they are underpaid, it is hard to choose the greatest priority between education, employment and housing. But at the end of the day, a stable home is the foundation of a stable life. Housing must be first, you can be educated and employed, but if your home is not affordable and decent, you will continuously struggle.”

-Katheryn Pierson, UPO


Members of
the DC Housing Priorities Coalition


HAND Members to Receive AHF 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards

September 24, 2018
September 24, 2018

Courtesy of Don Pearse Photography | West Turner Residences in Allentown, PA, by Pennrose Properties and Sacred Heart Hospital.

Congratulations are in order! Several HAND members have been named recipients of the 2018 Affordable Housing Finance Readers’ Choice Awards:

  • Pennrose Properties
  • The Community Builders
  • WinnCompanies
  • Somerset Development Co.
  • McCormack Baron Salazar
  • Preservation of Affordable Housing

According to Affordable Housing Finance, this year’s competition started with 153 entries, from which 36 finalists were selected. Newsletter and magazine subscribers then voted for the winners in each category plus an overall winner. An Editors’ Choice winner was also selected.

For a complete listing of winners and more details, check out this article.

Digital Classroom: Voter Registration | A Nonprofit’s Guide to Success!

September 13, 2018
September 13, 2018

Since the beginning of the Civil Rights movement, voter engagement efforts have played a vital role in our democratic process. Unfortunately, both low-income and minority citizens have historically been and remain underrepresented in the electoral process. In fact, only 33% of the low-income population in the U.S. is registered to vote. By encouraging residents in our communities to register to vote and ultimately cast their ballot, we can ensure that the voices of all are reflected in major public policy decisions.

In lieu of an in-person training, we’ve created a digital classroom, “Voter Registration | A Nonprofit’s Guide to Success” where members can download resources from Enterprise Community Partners, National Low Income Housing Coalition, the NAACP, Klein Hornig and Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) highlighting best practices to host voter registration drives within affordable housing communities. Thank you to our partners who were instrumental in organizing these resources, Virginia Housing Alliance and APAH!

Speakers include the following:

Melissa Bondi from Enterprise Community Partners, who will provide insights on engaging low-income communities to organize and engage in voter registration and GOTV efforts with highlights from a field case study.

Victoria Bouret of National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), who will provide an overview of NLIHC’s focus this year on mobilizing GOTV efforts within low-income communities.

Kim Phillip of the Arlington Chapter of the NAACP, who will provide an overview of the ways in which organizations can partner with their local NAACP affiliates to get low-income residents register, and active in voting. 

Jose Quinonez of Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH), who will share APAH’s experience as a landlord in actively facilitating and hosting GOTV engagement activities with low-income resident in their community.

Teresa Santalucia of Klein Hornig, who will provide legal expertise on what types of civic and advocacy related activities in which non-profits can engage.

Sim Wimbush of  Virginia Housing Alliance (Moderator)

Ready to get started? Keep reading for your course materials!

Course Materials

Additional Materials

Urban Institute features HAND’s Annual Meeting & Housing Expo

July 9, 2018
July 9, 2018

(left to right) Gustavo Velasquez of Urban Institute, Ernst Valery of SAA | EVI and Nicky Goren of Meyer Foundation discuss the causes and consequences of redlining at HAND’s Annual Meeting & Housing Expo.

On the heels of HAND’s Annual Meeting & Housing Expo, the team under the How Housing Matters Initiative at Urban Institute was inspired to author a piece reflecting on some of the policy changes that would be needed to address issues of housing discrimination and equity. An excerpt from the piece titled, “Rethink Housing and Community Development to Advance Racial Equity and Inclusion” is as follows:

In the US, descriptions of housing affordability challenges and differences in wealth, health, and education need to include a racial equity lens, or the picture is incomplete. Legally authorized and mandated housing discrimination through federal lending and investment policies laid the cornerstone of complex socio-spatial issues that historically segregated communities continue to face. Many of the inequities within and between neighborhoods, particularly in large metropolitan areas, trace their roots to redlining.

Such discriminatory lending practices have left a legacy of disinvestment predominately in black and brown communities. Although the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 sought to undo forced inequalities within neighborhoods by creating strong incentives for positive investment activity, the ramifications of housing segregation and economic exclusion will take additional policy attention to address…

…Meaningful and inclusive community revitalization can break down some of the barriers instituted through disinvestment and discrimination. This can be done through equitable development, but it requires intentional engagement and community input. Community development corporations (CDCs) and community land trusts (CLTs) have facilitated this engagement. While CDCs and CLTs usually have residents on their boards, CDC leadership often does not represent those they serve, which can leave residents feeling disengaged.

At the annual meeting of HAND, a membership organization for housing providers in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, Ernst Valery, founder and president of EVI Equity, addressed this challenge. He said, “We think so much about renovating the building, we need to also renovate the people.” EVI purchased Essex Village, an apartment complex in Henrico County, Virginia, that was far from providing its residents with a platform for success in life; according to Valery, it has been deemed the county’s worst apartment complex. EVI and the property manager CAPREIT quickly formed a tenants’ association to ensure that Essex Village residents were involved early in the planning process. Residents expressed excitement that the new owners wanted to hear their voices and to collaborate on creating lasting change in the housing development. When tenants are offered a seat at the table, they are eager to get involved, but developers need to provide the space to be heard.

You can read the article in full here.

Members-Only Portal

March 1, 2018
March 1, 2018


Ready to Access the Members-Only Portal?
We are pleased to welcome you to the Members-Only Portal of HAND’s website! The portal is an opportunity for HAND to not only streamline our processes, but most importantly enhance your member experience. We encourage you to take a look around, update your profile and connect with other HAND members. Moving forward, this will be your one-stop shop for exclusive member benefits like access to training materials, event registration and more.

Let’s get started!
When you log in, you can update your profile (it is searchable to help people find you), renew your dues, register for our next event and more! NOTE: If you are your organization’s Member Liaison, or “Key Contact,” you are essentially the manager of your organization’s profile. You have the authority to access your company’s profile, and add or remove staff members among other capabilities.

Adding colleagues to your organization’s profile
If you are an organization’s Key Contact (Member Liaison), you can add or remove “Linked Profiles” for other staff members. To manage these profiles simply follow these steps:

  • Log into the Members-Only Portal.
  • Click the “My Profile” link underneath your name tag.
  • Hover over the “My Profile” heading at the top of the screen.
  • Click “Your Organization.”
  • Click “Individual Profiles.”
  • At this point, you will be able to see all of the Linked Profiles for your organization. You can also change the designated Key Contact at any time (please email if you change the Key Contact).
  • Click “Create Linked Profile” to add a Linked Profile. All you need is the name and email to get started, and he or she can build out their profile once they log in for the first time. To remove a staff member, click “Unlink” next to their name.


Check out our FAQs document for more helpful information!

Contact HAND’s Membership Director, Courtney Battle at

Pathway to Purchase Home Buyers Assistance Program

July 11, 2017
July 11, 2017


If you are a first-time home buyer, you could be eligible for up to $10,000 in down payment and closing cost toward the purchase of your first home! The Pathway to Purchase Home Buyers Assistance Program is offered by Prince George’s County Department of Housing and Community Development. Check out more details here!

DCHFA Appoints Director of Multifamily Lending and Neighborhood Investments

October 14, 2016
October 14, 2016


The District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency’s (DCHFA) Executive Director Todd A. Lee recently named Christopher E. Donald, Director of Multifamily Lending and Neighborhood Investments (formerly the Public Finance department). Donald will oversee the day-to-day operations of the department, which financed 14 developments in Fiscal Year 2016, and will result in the production or preservation of 2,090 affordable units for D.C. residents.  “Christopher’s background in real estate finance and zeal for community building is the precise combination of skills and approach necessary to lead DCHFA’s multifamily division,” remarked Executive Director Lee on Donald’s hiring. To read the complete press release, click here.

Save the Date: 2016 Community Development Finance Conference

July 18, 2016
July 18, 2016

CityFirst Foundation