Jane Graf is the President and CEO of Mercy Housing based in Denver and operating nationally, one of the country’s largest nonprofit affordable housing organizations.
Jane’s work in affordable housing began early, as she founded the nonprofit Specialized Housing that built affordable housing for those with disabilities before she was 30. When her husband was relocated to San Francisco for his job, she began working for Catholic Charities, which eventually led to her joining Mercy Housing during a merger.
Jane credits Mercy Housing’s resilient structure to the Sisters of Mercy’s entrepreneurial approach and understanding that to do good work, you need to put money behind it and take risks.
25:40 “They built these institutional responses to need… They know how to not only start something but then really create an institution that can carry on the work way beyond their capability. And they’re really good at it… they’re completely fearless.”
She likens Mercy Housing to NPR, a national organization with local branches that are integral to the community. The real change and transformation happens on the local level because every community has different needs and resources.
Some of Jane’s important beliefs surrounding affordable housing include:
- Property management should be about people, not compliance.
- There is no single, one-size-fits-all model for delivering affordable housing.
- Stabilizing and supporting people and communities in need will help them get access to foundational necessities like education, healthcare, and good jobs.
Jane’s career and life advice are:
- Celebrate your mistakes because you learn way more from your mistakes than from what you did right.
- Spend your time allowing yourself to be pulled towards your strengths.