Three years ago, today, I lost a very important person in my life – my dad. However, it was not just I and my family who lost an important person; the world of housing, particularly the world of affordable housing, also lost an important person. My dad, Carl A. S. Coan, Jr., who worked up to his death at the age of 78 (and showing no signs of slowing down), devoted his professional, as well as his personal, life to the cause of housing, in particular the cause of ensuring that all people, regardless of their race, color, religion, etc., had access to housing that is affordable and decent, safe and sanitary.
He worked in both the public and private sector to try to further this goal. He generously gave of his time and his knowledge and, even if some did not agree with him, he was very well respected. Following his unexpected death, my dad was nominated for induction into the National Housing Hall of Fame. In connection with his nomination, we obtained several letters of recommendation. Here are some of the remarks made by some very well respected individuals:
“Carl not only believed strongly in the Declaration of National Housing Policy…he also lived it.” [Kevin P. Kelly, President, Leon N. Weiner & Associates, Inc.]
“Carl was clearly a ‘houser’ in the best sense…[h]e devoted his life to providing affordable housing and has been involved in many dimensions of implementing his love and passion for housing.” [Kent W. Colton, President, The Colton Housing Group]
“Carl’s intense personal commitment to the provision of decent, safe and sanitary housing for all Americans continues to inspire us in our work in the national housing policy sector.” [Joseph M. Ventrone, Vice President, and William J. Gilmartin, Senior Policy Advisor, National Association of REALTORS]
“It is hard for me to think of another lawyer and public servant who has had a more significant role in supporting the housing industry over the last 50 years. [He] was an outstanding advocate for affordable housing.” [Otto J. Hetzel, Esq.]
“[Carl] left his imprint on the major affordable housing programs of the last half century – Section 8, HOME, the tax credit, as well as Sections 235 and 236. The entire field would have been much different – for the worse – without Carl.” [Charles L. Edson, Nixon Peabody]
“[Carl] was widely respected for his knowledge, passion and commitment to affordable housing and his willingness to take on government bureaucracy when common sense was lacking (too often). Like a beacon, Carl paved the way for housing advocates like me and others and never failed to insist that facts matter.” [Denise B. Muha, Executive Director, National Leased Housing Association]
These remarks not only reflect my dad’s significant contribution to affordable housing; they also reflect a dedication and commitment to the ideal that we have a responsibility to ensure that all people have access to housing that is affordable, as well as decent, safe and sanitary. He also believed strongly in the notion that all people should be able to live wherever they choose.
As I reflect on my dad today, I realize how much I miss him. I also realize, though, it is important to keep his legacy alive and, perhaps, even more important, to continue his work. And that is what my brother and I, both partners in the firm my dad started in 1977, strive to do everyday.