By Shola Olatoye, Market Leader, New York
Enterprise is deeply saddened by the passing of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch. A leader, partner, champion and tireless advocate for New York, he loved this city and all its perfect imperfections.
Mayor Koch was elected at a time when New York City was burdened by significant fiscal and social woes. With his trademark style and governance approach, he restored confidence in the financial future of the city by making tough decisions and rallying residents and businesses to believe that there was indeed a future full of opportunities for New York City.
In his last term as mayor, Koch had turned the economic and budget challenges around and pledged to invest revenues from the budget surpluses in the rebuilding of New York neighborhoods. With the federal government pulling back significantly on its investment in affordable housing, Mayor Koch pledged that the city would step in with its own capital commitment. He worked with an incredibly talented housing and community planning staff to develop the Koch 10-Year Housing Plan, which committed over $5 billion of New York City capital funds to rebuilding housing throughout the five boroughs and providing homes and opportunities for 250,000 low-income, working and middle-income New Yorkers.
The Koch Housing Plan was the largest commitment to affordable housing in the country—larger than the combined commitment to housing made by the rest of the country's largest cities.
Enterprise worked closely with the Koch administration to help in carrying out its commitment to rebuilding housing and communities. In 1987, Jim Rouse, founder and then chairman and CEO of Enterprise, stood with Mayor Koch on the corner of 102nd Street and Second Avenue to announce our partnership with New York City: committing to work with the city and 17 community-based organizations to develop over 1,000 units of housing in the Bronx, Harlem, the Lower East Side and Brooklyn. Mayor Koch, in turn, committed to working with nonprofit organizations around the city to rebuild housing and communities. This announcement marked the beginning of Enterprise's work in New York, which, over the last 25 years, has resulted in the development of over 35,000 units of affordable housing and over $2 billion in investment through Enterprise.
The Koch 10-Year Housing Plan became a blueprint for the city's revitalization as well as a model for the rest of the country. When Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf and the city of New Orleans, Mayor Ed Koch and other former city representatives were asked to come to New Orleans and share their experience in leading the revitalization of New York neighborhoods. Mayor Koch spoke of leadership and the investment needed from all sectors, and promoted public, private and community partnerships to accomplish effective community and housing development.
Mayor Ed Koch and his housing plan gave hope to New Yorkers at a time it was most needed, saved the city and its neighborhoods, and was the basis for Enterprise's work in New York then and now. It served as a model for the nation of how a public policy can positively shape neighborhoods, create markets and rebuild communities. His legacy is etched in the very bricks of this great city and forever in our memory.