more than housing

The Baptist Town Cottage Project has outcomes that are immediately apparent: families have decent, safe places to live. To expand the impact this project has further, our project team has folded in empathy, skills training and design thinking. This has included the Ladies in the Landscape storm-water demonstration garden, employing neighborhood residents throughout construction, and creating carpentry and landscaping details based on the preferences of each home owner. Now, as the closings are being completed for each home, Cottage buyers are finding allies in the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB) and Planters Bank and Trust. To date, FHLB’s Home Equity Leverage Partnership (HELP) program has provided down-payment assistance grants to eight families. Read the article about this grant success on the PR Newswire.

My favorite part is this great picture of Brenda, and her story.

“She is finding her way back to something. She lived in Biloxi when Hurricane Katrina hit, and she was displaced from her home,” Ms. Roush-Elliott said. “The Baptist Town Cottages were designed for people in her situation, and despite many years and many miles traveled, she now owns a home designed to be a dignified place to live, affordable for her family, and resilient in the face of disaster.” (Excerpt from the article)

eleven families will open the door to their new home

As we wrap up construction of the first phase of the Baptist Town Cottage Project, Enterprise continues to support the work in a variety of ways. Most recently, it’s exciting to see a news release about the project, and to be cited by Michelle Whetten as contributing to the overall mission of Enterprise.

“At Enterprise, we are committed to ending housing insecurity within a generation, which means no more homelessness and no more families paying more than half of their income on housing. The Baptist Town cottages will help this community meet the need for affordable housing beginning with these 11 families,” said Michelle Whetten, Enterprise Community Partners Inc.’s Gulf Coast Market Leader. 

Read the full release here.

Below, utilities have been connected at the cottages, and the previously vacant lot is no longer dark.

IMG_0806 night

ladies in the landscape

In the Mississippi Delta, widespread use of pesticides and herbicides makes maintaining healthy waterways a particular concern. In order to combat polluted run-off from the Baptist Town Cottage site, the Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Economic Development Foundation (GLCEDF) applied to Enterprise Community Partners for a “neighborhood scale green” grant to support construction of a storm water management demonstration garden. We were awarded a $2,000 grant for this project, and partnered with Brantley Snipes Landscape Design to combine the GLCEDF’s knowledge of barriers to workforce entry, with Brantley’s knowledge of storm-water gardens.

The result is both process and product. Brantley designed and purchased all materials for the garden, the EDF advertised the training program, and over the course of three days Brantley provided training in landscape installation and maintenance techniques to a group of eight women who are currently seeking employment. The result is the functioning storm-water management garden pictured below.

By weaving together social, environmental, and economic factors, this small grant is having impacts at a variety of scales. The natural filtration provided by the garden improves the quality of water as it enters our waterways, decreases the use of concrete or pipes, and will be a beautiful natural space between the new homes in Baptist Town. For the women involved in the program, not only were they compensated for their participation, they are being connected to potential employers who are seeking people with the skills they obtained through this program.

The last step in the project is a brochure that will document our process and our storm-water garden. We look forward to sharing this information with other development projects in the Mississippi Delta, and hope that this pilot project grows into something bigger.

Building upon my last post, this project underscores the interwoven nature of social and environmental goals and outcomes. When we collaborate in unexpected ways is when we best leverage our knowledge and our resources.

rock, paper, people

(concrete, permits, homeowners)

Developing affordable housing is not easy. It’s a complex, political process that requires a team to realize at any scale. After years of effort from multiple project partners, the Baptist Town Cottage Project is making strides. With permits in hand, concrete is being poured for the first foundations today!

Perhaps more important than these visible steps, the project team hosted Fred Johnson of the New Orleans Neighborhood Development Foundation last week. Fred is a home ownership counseling expert who taught a class to future cottage owners on the “rights, privileges, and responsibilities” of home ownership. After many months of hard work, Fred’s enthusiasm and perspective reminded us all how excited we are about this opportunity for eleven families to move toward increased economic stability.  Many thanks to Enterprise Gulf Coast for sending us just the expert we needed.

want to be a public interest architect? here’s one path

The new class of Enterprise Rose Fellowship opportunities was recently announced. Six exciting positions in Boston, Oakland, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Slayton, MN will offer early career public interest designers opportunities to accelerate a career path in design leadership and community engagement.

More information is below, and the detailed work plans are available on Enterprise’s website.


Applications are now open for Rose Fellowships for 2015-2017. Apply by July 10th 2014!

Questions? Contact the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship office at (781) 235-2006 or

The highly competitive Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship develops the next generation of leaders in community- based design. Rose Fellows take part in a unique three-year experience offering unparalleled learning and networking opportunities. As integral members of their host organizations’ staff, fellows gain practical experience in site acquisition, site planning, architectural design, developing financial pro-formas, applying for financing and obtaining public approvals. Fellows also typically help their hosts improve standards and practices for design excellence, sustainability and community engagement. Rose Fellows also gain a national support system of colleagues who share their passion for public interest architecture and community development.

As full-time employees of their host organizations, fellows earn an annual stipend plus the standard insurance and benefits package provided by their host organization. The stipend for fellowships beginning in 2015 is $50,000.


May Fellowship opportunities posted
July 10 Fellowship application deadline 11:59 p.m. EST
September Finalists selected
October Interviews/Final decisions/Notifications
January 2015 2015-2017 Fellowships begin


17 heads are better than 1


From the first days of design school, the concept of perspective is introduced. Technically, we think about how to draw or model something so that it looks realistic, often at eye level. We also learn about the experience of gaining various perspectives within or around a building, and how those perspectives impact the inhabitant. Less design oriented, is the idea of perspective from the standpoint of the background with which a professional approaches a project. Through the Affordable Housing Design Leadership Institute, Enterprise Community Partners engages designers and developers in a unique opportunity to bridge the gaps between these professionally diverse perspectives as they relate to community development and affordable housing.

 The two and a half day conference began with presentations and discussion of two projects that provided a platform for the remainder of the conference. Robert Ivy, the Executive Vice President and CEO of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) led a panel featuring the developers and architects of two award winning projects: Chicago’s own La Casa, the Richard H. Driehaus Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design Winner; and Via Verde, the AIA/HUD Secretary’s Awards for Design Excellence in Affordable Housing Winner. The locations, challenges, financing, and joys of these projects were shared by the teams, and a theme that resonated throughout the conference became apparent: the human factor. The designs of both projects are rooted in the desires of residents, and the development teams were driving forces in realizing community stated goals. The collaborative processes pursued by both of these teams resulted in buildings that are not only applauded by the design community, but also respected by neighbors and cared for by residents. Both projects exemplified a James Rouse quote Sunny Fischer of the Driehaus Foundation shared, “Good design doesn’t cost, it pays.”

Building upon the opening night, the conference continued at the offices of Cannon Design. The agenda alternated between design team members discussing best practices that they have learned through experience, and development team members presenting projects in the schematic design phase. These development team presentations then became the basis of a round table format charette. While nuts and bolts often were the starting point of these charettes (dimensions of fire truck access and the differences between 4% and 9% housing tax credits), these concrete questions became jumping off points for broader, more probing topics. How can shared spaces encourage physical activity? How can assets and obstacles in the site plan be seen in a new way? Who will user groups be and what will they want?

Each year at AHDLI, development teams explore their work through the lens of the designer and vice versa, but the unique and pervasive theme of AHDLI 2013 was the importance placed upon the perspective of neither the designer nor the developer, but the resident.