Patricia Rouse, the co-founder of The Enterprise Foundation, now Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., died March 5 in Columbia, Md., of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  She was 85.

Rouse established the nonprofit in 1982 with her late husband, James Rouse, with the soaring goal of making sure every American has a decent, affordable home.

 “Enterprise is forever indebted to Patty, our visionary co-founder, for her unwavering commitment and the groundbreaking legacy she has left the affordable housing and community development industry,” said Terri Ludwig, president and CEO of Enterprise Community Partners, in a statement.

Rouse was a lifetime member of the Enterprise board of trustees and previously held board positions as vice president and secretary. She also served as secretary and a member of the board of directors of its for-profit subsidiary, Enterprise Community Investment, Inc.

“She has always embodied the heart and soul of Enterprise and will continue to be the foundation of our organization,” said Charlie Werhane, president and CEO of Enterprise Community Investment.

Enterprise was inspired by an encounter the Rouses had with three women from the Church of the Saviour in Washington, D.C. With no development or financial experience, the church members put down a nonrefundable deposit in 1972 to purchase the Ritz and Mozart apartment buildings in the Adams Morgan neighborhood. Their commitment won over James Rouse, a noted builder, and he helped them secure $625,000 to complete the transaction and $125,000 toward the rehabilitation.

Jubilee Housing was then formed in 1973, serving as the launch pad for the Rouses to start Enterprise, which has since raised and invested more than $11 billion in equity, grants, and loans to build or preserve nearly 300,000 affordable homes.

Patty Rouse’s work went far beyond Enterprise. In addition to being the first female commissioner of the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority, she was active with numerous industry organizations, including serving on the boards of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Jubilee Housing, and the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing.  She was the National Housing Conference’s Housing Person of the Year in 1998.

Rouse and her husband were inducted to Affordable Housing Finance’s Hall of Fame in 2010.

In honor of Patty, her family has asked that contributions be made to The Patty Rouse Fund to support Enterprise’s work with the poor. Donations can be directed to: The Patty Rouse Fund, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., 10227 Wincopin Circle, American City Building, Suite 500, Columbia, MD  21044-3400.