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Hammering at Housing

Kudos for a private initiative that gets at a deep national problem - the shortage of affordable, decent housing for low-income Americans. Under the plan, drawn up by an alliance of four nonprofit organizations, 193,800 new housing units will be built over the next four years in communities across the US. The price tag: $13 billion.

That's small change by Uncle Sam's standards. But it's a huge commitment for these nonprofits. The groups involved bring broad experience to the project: the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Habitat for Humanity, the Enterprise Foundation, and the National Neighborworks Network. That experience includes building know-how, financial acumen, and an understanding of how to engage future residents in the undertaking.

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Paul Grogan, president of LISC, says the building initiative should prod government to rethink its own diminishing role in providing housing for the poor. LISC and other community-development nonprofits rely on such federal programs as the low-income housing tax credit. "It's time to stop kidding ourselves," Mr. Grogan said at a press conference unveiling the plan, "and finish the job of making affordable housing available to every American."

May this effort spawn others, private and public.

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