I GET to work early to complete a loan application for a project that will give 70 low-income families a homeownership opportunity. Today is the deadline and I will have to hand carry it the 45 miles to D.C. I have been waiting to get cash flow data from an accountant. He says it won't be ready.
I quickly write and figure, handing the typist a page at a time. A housing counselor appears with an elderly client whose septic system has failed. We go over the options for repair and I cal the Farmers Home Administration office in her county to inquire about a loan. The counselor will help her with the application.
Back to the proposal. The secretary has a call from someone who is being evicted -- what are their rights? The Farmers Home supervisor from another county calls. He wants a plat of the 70 lots and informs me that his engineer will inspect a construction defect for one of our clients on Wednesday.
The application is almost done. Another staff person has to discuss a strategy issue for a 21-unit rental project for large families.
I take the plat to the Farmers Home office. It is a good opportunity for lobbying to exclude our project from a proposed "redline" between rural and non-rural areas. I pick up a cost estimate to attach to the application and deliver it by 4. Then to George Washington to register for a course in urban planning.
I get home at 7:30 in time to relieve Phyllis from the lawn mower, spray the fruit trees, swing Anne, help Danny, John and Steve with their baths, read them a story, eat. Tuesday
Phyllis has to drive me to work on her way to take the kids to the dentist. The other car was "totaled" last week in a collision with a deer. We stop to pick up a counselor's monthly reports.
I call the Housing Authority about a joint homeownership project with a unique problem: a short-term money glut because of a spending deadline and a long-term money shortage. I return an urgent call from a real estate agent. He has arranged a meeting next week with elected officials, who have to decide an issue that will make or break a pending project. It is the same day I had planned to take off to go on a field trip with Danny's class. "How bad do you want the project?" the agent asks. I tell him I will be there.
I go to test a piece of land for a septic system where an elderly lady wants to build. The health department has turned the site down, but she wants to appeal because others around here have been able to build. A friend feels that the test would have passed "if my face was a different color." Nothing I can say about the vagaries of soil will change that feeling. We dig four 30-inch holes and fill them with water. Three look like they should pass.
The bank manager has visited me to discuss two pending development loans over lunch. One looks good, one has to have more input from the real estate experts.
The afternoon is spent on paperwork. The priority is a proposal for continued funding of a home repair program. A contractor, who has driven 25 miles, arrives for an appointment with a staff person who has left for the day. He has to be calmed down. I have almost finished the proposal when Phyllis picks me up to 6. Before he goes to bed I explain to Danny about the field trip. He says he understands. Wednesday
Tax returns for two of our three non-profit housing development corporations are due this week, but the bookkeeper has not been able to get to them. A well driller calls to say that our check has bounced. I discuss these problems with the bookkeeper and accounts manager. Time will be found to do the taxes today. After several calls we discover that the check had the wrong account number on it.
I go to the Soil Conservation office to discuss a swampy area in the 70-lot subdivision. Proper engineering measures can correct the problem. We discuss social aspects of the project: Will whites be willing to live in a project with 50 percent black residents? Racial fears and attitudes are still so virulent.
I pick up the feasibility study from the accountant. He gives me some advice: Successful builders are those who spend their time thinking, negotiating and inspecting. Less successful builders are those who spend their time building. I reflect on or approach to housing development as I drive to meet a builder who may joint-venture with us. We both read the feasibility report in silence. It appears to be a go situation but we discuss other "red flags" we must knock down.
Back at the office I wade into some paperwork until a developer arrives for an appointment. In order to make his project feasible, he wants some rental subsidy units that HUD is reserving for us. He offers the advantage of dispersing the subsidized units within a large project. Our priority is serving large families. He will try two four-bedroom units if we go in with him. The issues here will require much thought.
I call a staff member to discuss the agenda for a meeting with a community group that has water, sewer, revitalization and organizational problems. She mentions that she and her husband lent $2,000 today to a couple with eight children to prevent foreclosure.
I leave for my first class on land development planning with a copy of the feasibility study to deliver to our financing agency on the way. When I finally get home, it is 11. Thursday
A staff person reports on more percolation tests on the lot that was disapproved for building. I call the health department and ask them to retest it. Reluctantly, they agree. I read the regulations because I see a confrontation shaping up.
Another staff person reports on her meeting last night with three delinquent home buyers who have been referred for counseling. There is also a report on the community meeting last night. The residents are asserting themselves by taking their water and sewer problem to public officials and by having three truckloads of trash and six junk cars hauled away.
Another staff person has some asppointments in the community but can't buy gas. An advance from petty cash is not approved. I lend them my credit card.
An outreach worker calls to discuss fianl inspections on three houses. One new owner, who has waited and worked four years for this moment, is going to start moving immediately. I wish I could experience her excitement.
I call the Farmers Home office about four lots we want to build on. The street must be paved but the access road was built without having been paved. "That one got by us somehow. You will have to pave both roads."
I leave for a senior staff meeting at a restaurant. A newspaper person instructs us on preparing press releases. We are told to report on all services delivered to a county which refuses to budget any money to support our programs. At lunch there is a pessimism about social programs.
Back at the office I work on a survey report on water and sewer problems. An official calls to complain about a repair job we have worked on. We agreed to meet for a beer after work where we discuss our working relationship and our internal agency politics. I am late for dinner and, to make matters worse, I remembered there is a housing corporation meeting tonight.
Feeling guilty, I try to give everyone a little bit of time and please no one. I leave for the meeting pulling myself out of Annie's grip.
The meeting is with old friends who have suffered through a difficult 49-unit project. We need to rest before deciding on the future. We hold hands and pray. Violence and racism have no place here. It is the most special moment of the day. Friday
I start on monthly reports, one to HYD and one to our board of directors; 30 new families this month.
One of the Farmers Home supervisors comes in. Two of three mortgage loan applications we submitted last week have problems. One is over the income guidelines by $37, another by $300. I tell him we will work over them to see if the guidelines can be met.
He doesn't want to lend more than $45,000 for the house and lot. I tell him we need $46,000 to break even. He leaves the door open -- a little.
I and another staff person meet two legal aid attorneys for lunch. We drive to a nearby pond and sit on the grass to eat. We discuss policy issues and possible legal problems with our projects. I mention the case of an elderly client. We were about to place a mobile home on her lot when boundaries were challenged, leaving her with too small a parcel. They want to see her. I call the attorney who will close the bank development loan we discussed at lunch on Tuesday. The Sanitary Commission wants Community Action to agree to subsidize the operation of the water system, if necesary. The agency director is reluctant to make such an open-ended commitment.
I clear my desk to leave an hour early. As I am going a call comes from the financing agency. They have approved a loan for the 70-lot subdivision. Saturday
One of the housing corporations is having a dinner. Since Steve has come down with chicken pox, I am going alone. No minister comes so they ask me to do the invocation. The gospel singing creats a mood of joy and togetherness. "Pushing and Pulling," words from one of the songs, becomes the speaker's theme.
A young black woman asks to speak. She is a candidate for delegate to the Democratic convention. No black has ever been elected from this district. She urges involvement to keep "easing on down the road" to full equality. Sunday
It is a day for balancing a week that has been light on the family side. So there are three tea parties to attend, a two-mile hike that produces 19 beer cans and a bouquet of wild roses, a few games of catch, a round of soccer, a bike tire to be fixed, a shoe-shine kit to help make, a glass of lemonade with some neighbors. Finally, a precious moment to reflect: Where have I been? Where am I going?