Here's what Nora Lichtash has learned from 30 years of working in affordable housing - Generocity Philly

People

Oct. 12, 2016 11:55 am

Here’s what Nora Lichtash has learned from 30 years of working in affordable housing

The longtime ED helped found Women's Community Revitalization Project in 1986, and she has some advice for women working in community building and collaboration.

Nora Lichtash and local pastor Rev. Richard Harris at the Grace Townhomes ribbon cutting.

(Courtesy photo)

In 1986, 30 women who lived, worshipped or worked in the Kensington area sat together in the dingy basement of Lutheran Settlement House to learn how to start a business.

LSH had brought in a consultant to instruct the group on economic development. The women soon realized that their community’s biggest need was affordable housing, and advocacy nonprofit Women’s Community Revitalization Project was born.

“We realized that just from living our lives, doing our jobs, being moms, we had a lot of skills,” said founding member Nora Lichtash — skills that they believed could change their community for the better.

Lichtash is now WCRP’s executive director, and in its three-decade history, the organization has grown from a handful of volunteers to 17 staffers who have built 282 affordable housing units throughout the city, with a special focus on North Philadelphia and the River Wards, according to Lichtash.

nora-lichtash-group-groundbreaking

(Courtesy photo)

To counter the gentrification that’s been pushing its way north for the past 15 years, WCRP supports the leadership of those doing similar work. There’s strength in numbers, Lichtash said.

From our Partners

“Our organization really shifted over time from responding to barriers to really working with other organizations in coalition to identify what are the key barriers that are keeping us from what we need to do” to get this work done, she said. “It’s clear that one organization can’t [do that kind of work] on its own.”

This Friday, WCRP will celebrate its 30th anniversary and many wins — including recent ones such as its part in the establishment of Pennsylvania’s Community Justice Land Trust and September ribbon-cutting of its affordable Grace Townhomes development in Port Richmond.

In her reflection of the past three decades, Lichtash has two pieces of advice for women looking to organize for social change in their communities:

  1. Understand the numbers — “As women, we need to understand finance, whether it’s real estate finance or pushing for fair financial policy,” she said. That knowledge helps WCRP’s staff make good decisions as business owners, decode what the city is spending and who it affects, and recognize what fair policies look like.
  2. Strengthen your ranks — “Respecting the strength of women who have endured hard times and making space for them is so important,” Lichtash said. “Women have so much to add to this work. We want a seat around the table that controls the resources. We have a right to be there, too.”
Want more richly researched and deeply sourced community reporting?  Become a Generocity member for $10 per month -30-
LEAVE A COMMENT

From our Partners

How Temple’s Small Business Development Center is working to bridge the digital divide

Is the lack of affordable housing the next crisis?

Opinion: It’s time to permanently close Berks County’s immigrant detention center

SPONSORED

Generocity Philly

Village of the Arts seeks to deepen and scale its impact as it reflects on its legacy

Lower Gwynedd, PA

Mercy Volunteer Corps

Administrative Assistant

Apply Now
Philadelphia

The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage

Program Assistant, project funding area

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

Philabundance

Major Gift Officer

Apply Now

Festival in Manayunk focuses on films by and about women

At PAFA not only have women claimed space, they’re making history

3 takeaways from Melinda French Gates and MacKenzie Scott teaming up to fund women’s and girls’ causes

SPONSORED

Generocity Philly

On June 17, First Person Arts and EMOC launch a virtual event they hope will shatter misperceptions of men of color

Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia Youth Network, Inc

Senior Business Partnership Specialist

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia Youth Network, Inc

Human Resources Generalist

Apply Now
Manayunk, Philadelphia, PA

Starfinder Foundation

Development Assistant

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Generocity