Forty-five years ago, Lorry Post responded to a need in Southeastern Pennsylvania— low-income communities were eager to rebuild and renew but had difficulty accessing the means to do so.
As he worked to ensure that the families and communities that needed Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds actually received them, Regional Housing Legal Services (RHLS) came to be.
Lorry hired two young attorneys, Mark Levin and Mark Schwartz, to work with communities across the five-county area.
Mark Levin credits Lorry’s sense of justice and his inspiring vision for how lawyers could help low-income communities as the reason that he joined RHLS and became involved in housing-related work.
Since the early 1970s, RHLS has assisted in the development and preservation of over 10,000 units of affordable housing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. RHLS attorneys have worked on policy matters on local, state, and national levels to protect low-income families and communities as well as to make additional resources available to improve their lives.
Even after his departure from RHLS, Lorry continued to work in legal aid and to advocate for low-income individuals. Over the span of his career as an attorney, he impacted thousands of lives in Pennsylvania and beyond.
Twenty years ago, Lorry wrote a letter regarding his role in founding RHLS in honor of the organization’s twenty-fifth anniversary:
When I founded RHLS some 25 years ago, in my wildest dreams I could not have imagined the progress and accomplishments that has been the history of this organization. Though I dreamed of a fully livable community for lower income families, I did not foresee what has been accomplished through the efforts of my successors at RHLS.My limited goal was to assure that low-income communities could take advantage of government and private programs to help in the rebuilding of their communities. In particular, CDBG was the major focus of my efforts.
Those efforts were aimed at assuring that the most disadvantaged families and communities in the five-county area were the primary targets for the dollars in this particular program, and that, among other activities, every single low-income homeowner who needed rehabilitation of his/her home would be given that opportunity. The program was highly successful in attaining that and other goals.
However, it was not until my departure from the program, and the two new leaders, Mark Schwartz and Mark Levin assumed the reins, that the program moved far beyond those limited goals. Now, I see the development of new housing, as well as rehabilitated housing, blooming everywhere in the area for habitation by low and moderate income families and senior citizens. I see complementary services, commercial, health and community activities and structures, all of which improve the quality of life for the residents of the area, blooming as well. Finally, I see full, vibrant communities blooming, giving the residents the opportunity to experience all of the benefits of the American dream.
I may have had the dream, but as a pragmatic person, it was more of a fantasy. I did not truly think that this dream could be fulfilled. Now, I am pleased beyond words that the leaders and staff and Board and volunteers of RHLS have brought this dream to fruition, beyond what I or anyone else could have expected. I applaud each and every one of you and will be always grateful.
Lorry, the staff and board of RHLS applaud and are grateful to you for your courage and humility.