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The Impact of Stability

Roberta Rubin '87 likes what she's doing.She just wants to do it 10 times faster.

As an attorney with The Community Builders (TCB), Rubin estimates that she's had a part in the development of more than 1,000 housing units in Boston and other cities. Based in Boston, TCB is one of the largest nonprofit urban developers in the United States, Roberta Rubinwith offices in 11 cities nationwide. It connects investors, banks, local, state, and federal governments, and community organizations to renew depressed and blighted urban neighborhoods and increase affordable housing.

"When we go to a site at the start, we often see rats, asbestos, lead paint, non-functioning heat. There's deterioration, crime. You don't know how anyone could live there," said Rubin. "But then, after we're done, you can just see how people are unbelievably excited to have a safe, decent, affordable home."

Rubin joined TCB in 1996, after spending nine years at Brown, Rudnick, Freed & Gesmer in Boston. She practiced real estate law and worked with community development corporations and nonprofits on a variety of special housing programs. It was perfect preparation for her move to TCB, which was sparked by the birth of her first child.

"I had to ask what was meaningful to me about my career while trying to balance career and family," she said. "I realized the piece of my practice that I valued most was involved with the community--the affordable housing process."

Now TCB's deputy general counsel, Rubin works with a team of TCB attorneys and a variety of housing programs to secure funding, address tax and contract issues, and keep projects on track. She has been working as a consultant to the Boston Housing Authority during a multiyear project to revitalize Orchard Park, a public housing development in Roxbury, Mass. Rubin proudly displays a picture of the final phase of the project, showing a row of brightly painted wood-framed houses on a site that was previously occupied by crumbling brick and concrete monoliths.

"It's been a real privilege to watch not only a piece of land change, but a whole neighborhood change," said Rubin. One woman, an Orchard Park resident since the 1940s, even told Rubin that she now has hope again for the first time in a long time.

Rubin, who works with a homeless shelter in her free time, says the change in people when they finally have safe, affordable housing is immediate and dramatic. "I've seen the impact of homelessness and the impact of stability. At one of our developments . . . a lot of the kids are now on the honor roll. It's really nice to see that impact on individuals and on the community. It's the best part of the job."

--Margie Kelley

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