Richardson’s Pittsburgh neighborhood was in decline, partially due to redlining policies that prevented most banks from lending to her and her neighborhoods. At the time, in the 1960s, most cities tried to solve blight by demolishing neighborhoods, but Richardson knew that she and others were willing to fix their homes if they could get loans.
|Richardson and supporters in front of a home |
that would be rehabilitated instead of torn down
Richardson is credited with introducing a new model of community development, one that emphasized cross-sector partnership and ground-up solutions for struggling communities. During the 1970s and 1980s, Richardson remained a prominent figure by educating and inspiring community leaders throughout the country. She assisted them with establishing their own resident-led organizations, which led to the creation of what would be called the NeighborWorks America network. In 1978, Congress later institutionalized the network by establishing the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, now known as NeighborWorks America.
|Mural of Dorothy Richardson by artist at NeighborWorks |
affiliate Orlando Neighborhood Improvement Corporation
In 2012, NeighborWorks organizations served more than 11,000 African-American individuals with homeownership counseling, foreclosure counseling, refinancing, reverse mortgages, and rehab services. NeighborWorks organizations also served nearly 30,000 African American–headed rental households. Together, the NeighborWorks network helps residents to build stronger communities, achieve and maintain homeownership and support the creation and preservation of affordable rental homes.
In honor of Richardson’s life work, NeighborWorks America created the Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident Leadership in 1992. Each year, the award honors seven community leaders from around the country for their outstanding contributions to their communities. Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. in Pittsburgh, now known as NeighborWorks Western Pennsylvania, created the Dorothy Richardson Legacy Award in 2008 to recognize outstanding contributions by dedicated volunteers and long-serving board members.
To learn more about Dorothy Richardson and NeighborWorks America, watch this video: http://ow.ly/i4ssk
To learn more about the 2012 Dorothy Richardson Award winners, visit: nw.org/drawards