Housing is asking a lot of its leaders these days. As leaders in the housing industry, you face challenges likely to be remembered one day as historic, and questions that have either no answer at all or an answer that is painful to the ears.

In the fall of 2010, the nation's economic recovery is halting and may be in need of more measures, more costly initiatives, to get it back on track. The nation's jobs picture looks bleak, with one in 10 able-bodied workers unable to find employment, and nearly two in 10 unable to earn incomes adequate to cover their families' needs. That's not even counting the souls who've slipped off the nation's employment radar, too despairing to even try to find work.

Meanwhile, the nation's housing finance system—a complex of public agencies, private-sector investors, foundations, and myriad other organizations—is in a state of profound dislocation as owners, sellers, developers, borrowers, renters, and dozens of others in the equation attempt to quantify the value of residential property and who then owes what to whom. People have lost and will lose their homes. People are displaced, both owners and renters.

The only thing that's getting clearer, it seems, is the daunting, perpetually spiraling tally of what will be owed, even as the means and motivations to pay off what we owe become cloudier. No predicament for any of housing's leaders has become more important to solve than recognizing what is out of one's control and determining what one can do that is within his or her control.

A two- or three-letter word may be all that's left to dig out of housing's yawning hole: Do. Act.

This is why it's so important for a group of housing's leaders to join us at AHF Live: The 2010 Affordable Housing Developers' Summit when we meet Nov. 3–5 at the Fairmont Millennium Park in Chicago.

About 400 of housing's leaders will be right there with us at the conference. What we've seen from the community repeatedly is that no matter how big the challenges and how hard the questions, they're there, accounted for. They're ready to learn from each other and tackle the problems. They step up.

In our keynote power panel, Bart Harvey, former chairman of Enterprise Community Partners; Richard Baron, chairman and CEO of McCormack Baron Salazar; and Jonathan F.P. Rose, president of Jonathan Rose Cos., will join me to provide the AHF Live audience a view of how the building blocks of a place, its people, its schools, its ways of making a living, and its means of staying safe and healthy interlock.

How critical, especially as the Department of Housing and Urban Development and others focus more attention on not just building good projects but creating sustainable neighborhoods. Housing finance tomorrow will increasingly value the building blocks of sustainability— socially, culturally, economically, and, of course, environmentally.

Housing is calling right now for leaders. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago.

John McManus is editorial director of AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE.