In 1980s the communities of Roxbury and Dorchester were experiencing the systemic instabilities and disorganization endemic to United States urban communities. Redlining, insufficient resources for community revitalization, benign neglect from its elected officials, and soaring unemployment ravaged the Roxbury and North Dorchester communities. In Boston, conflicts and problems associated with school desegregation, high drop out rates and declining test scores in many of the schools were the products of complex factors. Among the city’s racial minorities, economic patterns, low skills and family instability produced deleterious consequences on individuals and families in the impacted target area. Quincy Geneva Housing Corporation (QGHC) was founded against this background. Incorporated in 1983 as a private non-profit grassroots organization, it was formed and governed by the low and moderate-income residents of the Grove Hall section of North Dorchester and North Roxbury. Grove Hall’s residents were among those considered by public officials as most-at-risk. QGHC was created to improve the quality of life of its targeted resident population.
The organization saw as its main purpose “creating affordable housing opportunities and providing programs that would raise the economic, educational, and social mobility for the residents” of Grove Hall. Specific goals included obtaining affordable housing, rehabilitating existing housing to a higher standard, establishing educational, economic, and occupational opportunities for the target area residents. Between the period of 1983 and 2003, QGHC developed and rehabilitated over 500 units; retaining 396 units of rental housing, including 101 assisted housing units, 94 HUD subsidized units and 56 limited equity cooperative units.
Determined to move beyond the work of construction to the even more pressing issues of community revitalization, QGHC established strong relationships with funders and supporters, City and State government agencies, local community-based organizations, housing, associations, youth development and resident services programs. QGHC leadership pursued funding to develop a work force development strategy that resulted in an employment training program and a HUD funded Drug Elimination Grant Program. By the late 1990s, a computer training program had been implemented as a bridge for Quincy-Geneva residents to move into computer skills development for increased job opportunities.
In 1994, these efforts were recognized nationally when QGHC was the recipient of a nomination for the Social Compact Award in Washington, D.C. for outstanding community investment partnerships with financial institutions. In 1996, 97, 98 and 1999, four years in a row, the board members, staff and the adolescent youth program participants of QGHC properties sponsored, hosted and won certificates of merit in the crime and drugs elimination area from the National Night Out and the Boston Police Department. By the end of the century, QGCH had grown from its small beginnings -- $250,000 annual operating budget -- to a $6.5 million (inclusive of Asset & Property Management) annual operating budget with 35 full time staff, ten active programs and projects providing training and employment opportunities for low income residents.
Beneath the surface glitter, there were dark undercurrents. In 2000 the organization experienced internal financial and leadership problems that seriously impacted its organizational structure and its organizational reputation. Financial improprieties had evolved, without Board notice, for a long time under an executive director who had led the organization for more than a decade. Grove Hall residents who questioned the organizational direction of QGHC went largely unheard. Finally, an annual financial audit discovered that the Board of Directors had been negligent in its fiscal oversight of the organization’s internal fiscal operations. Fiscal management systems were seriously flawed and the checks and balances maintaining accountability had eroded. Malfeasance identified resulted in the board of directors forcing the executive director to resign more, damaging, however, was the loss of confidence among stakeholders, funders and backers of the organization. What followed was a period of organizational instability where an interim board of directors conducted an extensive due diligence and pondered the ultimate fate of the organization. By 2003, the services and programs operated by Quincy Geneva Housing Corporation had been terminated in anticipation of merging the organization with another community development corporation. While the merger never occurred, the loss in programs had a serious impact on the organization’s ability to continue to provide much needed resident and other services in the targeted area. A new Board of Directors, selected and ratified by representatives of the Grove Hall community, was installed. In August 2004. Dr. Christopher Thompson was elected President and Chair of this newly formed board. Facing what appeared to be insurmountable challenges, this newly appointed all volunteer board of directors worked untiringly to resurrect QGHC from its crisis state