It’s been a busy few months for Bart Harvey. Housing and community development organizations all across the country have been throwing banquets, luncheons, and other events to honor him for his long service as chairman of Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., and its for-profit subsidiary, Enterprise Community Investment, Inc.

Harvey retired from the leadership of Enterprise in March, ending a career that began in 1984 as a temporary position he took while on sabbatical from his real job as a Wall Street investment banker. When he took up James Rouse’s challenge to become an “investment banker to the poor,” Enterprise was little more than an experiment in how the private sector could help revitalize America’s cities. Today, Enterprise has a staff of about 500 and invests roughly $1 billion a year in housing and community development.

At 59, Harvey has built the organization to a point where insiders say it is wellpositioned for the future. He lives in the Roland Park section of Baltimore, only a few miles from Sandtown-Winchester, one of the distressed areas where Enterprise has focused on comprehensive revitalization since the early years. He lives with his wife, Janet Marie Smith, and his children, Bart IV, 14, Nellie Grace, 12, and Jack, 10

. Industry leaders greeted Harvey’s departure with praise for his leadership. “I have benefited from Bart Harvey’s knowledge and passion for affordable housing for many years. We will miss his effective and thoughtful advocacy,” said Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services.

“Bart Harvey has been one of the strongest and most effective voices in the affordable housing industry in the last 25 years. His leadership of Enterprise and his personal conviction that affordable housing is the foundation of building strong, healthy families and communities has been an inspiration to me and a gift to the nonprofit affordable industry,” said Sister Lillian Murphy, CEO of Mercy Housing.

“Bart combined a passionate commitment to Enterprise’s mission of decent affordable housing for the poor with a generous spirit. The combination made him a valuable part of the nonprofit housing community and a valued colleague. He’ll be missed,” said Patrick E. Clancy, president of The Community Builders.

Raymond A. Skinner, secretary of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, called Harvey “a living legend who has made enormous contributions to the fields of affordable housing and community revitalization in Maryland and across the nation.”

Skinner said Harvey “has a real passion for this work and has continuously come up with new and innovative ideas to uplift underserved communities. Under his leadership, Enterprise Community Investment has become the leading national intermediary supporting redevelopment of low- and moderate-income communities. His influence will be felt here in Maryland and all over this country for a long time to come.”

Harvey first walked in the door of what was then the Enterprise Foundation in 1984. He was working as managing director of corporate finance at Dean Witter Reynolds and took a sabbatical to work with Rouse for six months.

The Baltimore-based Rouse Co. invented the idea of the festival marketplace. But Rouse and his wife, Patricia, wanted to do more than build upscale shopping centers. They wanted to transform American cities in a way that would benefit people of all incomes, and they created the Enterprise Foundation to do just that.

In 1994, Rouse handed Harvey a bible and gavel and made him CEO. In 1996, Rouse died. Patricia Rouse remains on the board of both organizations.

Harvey played “a crucial role in the development and growth of the organization over many years. He brought a wonderful combination of talents to the task: brains, financial savvy, charismatic interpersonal skills, and an incredibly deep commitment to helping the millions of people living in poverty in this country,” said Jeffrey H. Donahue, president and CEO of Enterprise Community Investment.

“His commitment is underlined by the fact that those same skills that served him so well at Enterprise were easily marketable to land him jobs on Wall Street or elsewhere that some would say were more prestigious —and all of which had vastly better compensation. But, Bart never wavered. He knew what his life’s work would be,” Donahue said.

Donahue praised Harvey for building “an organization under him that could not only survive but prosper with him no longer here. So, while he will always be missed, the slate of employees now at Enterprise is, in my 10 years on the Enterprise Community Investment board and six more in management, the best it has ever been.”

Harvey has also taken a lead role in shaping federal housing policy. Along with Rouse, he worked diligently for enactment of the low-income housing tax credit in 1986. Under his leadership, Enterprise pioneered the successful use of the New Markets Tax Credit and became an early advocate and facilitator of green building methods for affordable housing.

In 2002, Harvey was appointed by Congress to the Millennial Housing Commission, which was created to analyze existing housing programs and make additional legislative and regulatory recommendations.

He was inducted into this magazine’s Affordable Housing Hall of Fame in 2006. He is also viewed as a potential candidate to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development when a new president is sworn in next January.

After two rounds of voting, readers of AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE magazine have expressed their preference for Harvey over other candidates for the job.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE put forth a lengthy list of candidates in the March issue and used online voting to narrow down the list. A shorter list was put forth more recently, and at press time, Harvey had received the most votes.