Revitalizing Urban Neighborhoods

If Kenneth Wade has his way, over the next few years he will have helped about 30,000 minorities with low and moderate incomes become new homeowners. This is one of the goals Wade has set since becoming executive director of Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp. last December. As Neighborhood Reinvestment’s chief executive, Wade, 53, supervises its multimillion-dollar grants programs and training activities in support of NeighborWorks, a nationwide network of affordable housing and community development organizations. Two hundred twenty-five locally based organizations are members of NeighborWorks, which in turn provides them with training and financial assistance.

Congress created Neighborhood Reinvestment 26 years ago to work with community organizations involved in neighborhood revitalization activities. Over the past 10 years, these organizations have helped more than 76,000 lower-income families purchase their first homes and helped more than 150,000 residents access funding needed for home repairs. Neighborhood Reinvestment provided $75 million in federal and private-sector support to NeighborWorks organizations last year.

“While there have been great strides that have occurred since 1978, there still is a lot of work that needs to be done and so I think to a certain extent we continue to enjoy the support of Congress in order to carry out that mission,” Wade says. And with homeownership rates for whites in the 70% bracket and African Americans and Latinos lagging just below the 50% mark, Wade believes that minorities are underserved and says he wants to contribute to closing the gap. “There’s no question that homeownership is a major way that wealth is created in this country for families, and so I think from a wealth creation perspective that it’s important,” he says.

Wade had served as Neighborhood Reinvestment’s director of national programs, initiatives, and research since 1998; for the prior eight years, he was the district director in New England managing activities in six states. Before joining Neighborhood Reinvestment, Wade spent more than 10 years with Boston’s United South End Settlements, where he last worked as deputy director of programs.