Our History

"We must do it all – decent housing in decent neighborhoods for everyone."
– Jim Rouse, Enterprise Co-Founder

Renowned developer and urban visionary Jim Rouse and his wife Patty co-founded Enterprise in 1982 with an ambitious vision of ending poverty in the U.S. They knew that realizing their vision would entail giving everyone the opportunity to live in a decent, affordable home.

More than three decades later, Enterprise remains the only U.S. housing organization with deep expertise in three areas critical to improving the affordable housing system: impact capital, innovative solutions on the ground and transformative public policy.

The story of Enterprise has important roots in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Three members of the Church of the Saviour, Terry Flood, Barbara Moore and Carolyn Banker, wanted to improve the quality of affordable housing in their neighborhood. With no development, financial or construction experience, they made a non-refundable deposit to purchase and transform the dilapidated Ritz and Mozart apartment buildings.

Jim found the women’s commitment and determination astonishing. As then-CEO of The Rouse Company, he helped them secure $625,000 to complete the purchase and $125,000 toward repairs. And so, Jubilee Housing, a local community organization, was born in 1973. Its impact inspired Jim and Patty to build an organization to seek out and partner with groups like Jubilee nationwide, helping them tap into resources and learn from each other.

To succeed, Jim and Patty knew the organization must function like none other – driven by mission, fueled by business discipline and sustained by philanthropic support. When it came time to name the organization, Jim thought of the spirit that had made our country great in the first place: the spirit of Enterprise.

 

Our Founders

jim-patty-rouse.jpg
Jim and Patty Rouse, inspired by a community-based group in Washington, D.C., founded Enterprise in 1982 to see that all low-income people have the opportunity for affordable housing and to move up and out of poverty.

James "Jim" W. Rouse

(April 26, 1914 - April 9, 1996)
Jim Rouse spent his adult life working with the American city—its problems and its opportunities—both as a developer and as a member of various public interest organizations.

In the 1960s, he focused on the development of Columbia, the planned community in Maryland. In the 1970s, The Rouse Company developed the festival marketplace concept and opened Faneuil Hall in Boston. Jim retired as CEO of The Rouse Company in 1979 and in 1982 he and wife Patty launched The Enterprise Foundation, now known as Enterprise.

He was a member of President Eisenhower's Task Force on Housing in 1953 and of President Reagan's Task Force on Private Sector Initiatives in 1982. In 1987, he became chairman of the National Housing Task Force, which made proposals to Congress in March 1988 for a new housing program. The report formed the basis for comprehensive housing legislation signed into law by President Bush in November 1990. Jim was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, by President Clinton in September 1995. He passed away at the age of 81 at his home in Columbia, Md.

Patricia "Patty" Rouse

Co-Founder (May 4, 1926 - March 5, 2012)
Patty co-founded Enterprise with her husband, Jim Rouse, in 1982. She served as vice president, as well as secretary of the boards of Enterprise Community Partners and Enterprise Community Investment. 

She also served on the board of Jubilee Housing, Inc. of Washington, D.C., and the National Low Income Housing Coalition. In 1998, Patty was named Housing Person of the Year by the National Housing Council and in 2008 received the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award, just two of many accolades, honors and appointments she received during the course of her life.