The National Low Income Housing Coalition held its 32nd Annual Leadership Awards Reception on April 29 in Washington, DC. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy was honored with the Edward W. Brooke, III Housing Leadership Award, and housing advocate and legal service attorney Charles Elsesser, Jr. received the Cushing Niles Dolbeare Lifetime Service Award.
The Edward W. Brooke, III Housing Leadership Award goes to an exemplary housing leader with a record of fighting for affordable housing. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has been a champion of preserving and increasing affordable housing in Connecticut and his commitment to housing is a model for the nation’s governors. Recognizing the importance of affordable housing, Governor Malloy proposed and signed into law a 10-year commitment of $300 million to preserve and upgrade deteriorated and vacant housing units.
Speaking on behalf of Governor Malloy was Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Daisy Franklin, NLIHC Board Member and Vice President of the Publicly-Assisted Housing Residents Network of Connecticut. Senator Blumenthal spoke of Governor Malloy’s passion and understanding of how important housing and the minimum wage were and shared how pleased he was to have worked with the Governor throughout his many years of public service in a number of roles. Ms. Franklin had nominated Governor Malloy for the award and presented it to him. She spoke about how proud she is to have a governor who fights for his constituents and how effective Governor Malloy has been in securing funding for affordable housing. In accepting his award, Governor Malloy gave a rousing speech about recognizing and understanding the impact that housing can have on people’s lives. He emphasized how housing and a living wage would lift thousands out of poverty.
The Cushing Niles Dolbeare Lifetime Service Award, named after NLIHC’s late founder, goes to an individual who has demonstrated an unyielding commitment to achieving safe, decent and affordable homes for low income people over a long period of time. The 2014 honoree, Charles Elsesser, Jr., is the Director of the Community Justice Project of Florida Legal Services and is an attorney working in civil rights and housing litigation and advocacy. Mr. Elsesser, a former board member of the NLIHC, is currently representing NLIHC and the Right to the City Alliance in litigation to secure funding for the National Housing Trust Fund.
Tony Romano, Organizing Director of the Right to the City Alliance, described Mr. Elsesser as a “master of his craft” and praised his ability to understand that a “lawsuit is just a tactic…it’s the organizing campaign and residents’ power that is the most important.” Mr. Romano highlighted Mr. Elsesser’s strong connection with residents and ability to give back with grace and humility. Jaimie Ross, President of the Florida Housing Coalition, presented Mr. Elsesser with the award and noted that “it may be a little early to be giving a lifetime achievement award to Chuck because he will undoubtedly be achieving even more in the years to come.” Mr. Elsesser gracefully accepted the award, saying that he was proud to be honored by the residents and low income housing advocates with whom he has worked side-by-side for so many years.
NLIHC Board Member Bill Faith emceed the event again this year. He thanked the members of the Host Committee and the many donors who made the event a successful fundraising event for NLIHC. Bank of America, which hosted the event for another year, was represented by Community Affairs Executive Brian Tracey who applauded NLIHC for its strong advocacy on behalf of low income people.
The Leadership Awards Reception is NLIHC’s only fundraising event. To see the list of 2014 donors, please go to http://nlihc.org/partners/donors/leadership or scroll down to the end of this issue of Memo, just before the list of NLIHC staff.