Letter: Gods and generalizations

It would be fortunate if Ron Maxwell used the same level of accuracy and attention to detail that he attempts as a filmmaker in characterizing the mission and motivations of the nonprofit organizations which I am honored to lead [Letters, April 1].

Sadly, he did not.

His primary assertions — that Fauquier Housing Corporation and Rapidan Better Housing Corporations are “federally funded nonprofit organizations promoting the construction of taxpayer-subsidized housing” — are simply not true.

Rapidan Better Housing and Fauquier Housing, now collectively known as the Foothills Housing Coalition, have humbly served the local community for more than 40 years. Both organizations receive minimal support through the local governments in areas that we serve, as well as through private foundations and endowments.

The majority of the work we do involves the renovation or replacement of housing for existing homeowners with substandard living conditions, such as a lack of indoor plumbing. Each home has a mortgage based on the ability of the client to repay. There is no “promotion of taxpayer subsidized housing” and, in fact, the local tax base is increased by the renovation of this existing substandard housing.

This year both our organizations have been recognized as being among the “Top Ten Housing Rehabilitation Providers in the State of Virginia” by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Previous accolades include the Community Improvement Award from the Piedmont Environmental Council, an organization with which Mr. Maxwell was once intimately familiar.

This year FHC has also been awarded a grant to act as a model nonprofit in the application of Earthcraft building standards to all of our community work, standards designed to bring a 30 percent reduction in utility costs to clients.

Undoubtedly Mr. Maxwell drives regularly past homes in our community that have benefited from the goals of safe and affordable housing for which we strive. They exist in just about every village and town in our community.

Our staff works tirelessly to serve the community. Mr. Maxwell’s characterizations are uncalled for, unfounded, and if I do say so, completely uninformed.

Further, if I actually owned a white glove, this “government subsidized schemer” would take it off and use it in a manner Mr. Maxwell would well understand through his love of history.

For those in the community who wish to understand more fully what it is we really do, I invite you to take a look at our website, www.fhchousing.org, which was just redesigned by one of our severely underpaid but highly valued staffers, without the use of government subsidies of any kind.

Perhaps Mr. Maxwell would do well to heed the advice given to him in the New York Times’ 2003 review of one of his films: “It is only when ‘Gods and Generals’ holds its tongue that its virtues begin to emerge.”

Christopher Moyles
Executive Director
Fauquier Housing Organization
Rapidan Better Housing

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