Bill Shelton: Help Us Advance Racial Equity in Virginia

Dear Friends,

I am truly excited to lend my support to the creation of the Robert J. Adams Fund for Racially Equitable Housing. I can think of no better way to honor our friend and colleague Bob Adams and his legacy in affordable housing. I hope you will join with me and HousingForward Virginia by contributing to the Robert J. Adams Fund for Racially Equitable Housing. Our goal is to raise $25,000 to support this important work.

I first had the pleasure of working with Bob when he came to the Department of Housing and Community Development as its first Deputy Director for Housing, where he was instrumental in launching several initiatives including the Virginia Housing Partnership Fund, (a precursor to the Virginia Housing Trust Fund), and the annual Governor’s Housing Conference. While Bob’s extensive knowledge of housing was instrumental in the growth of DHCD’s Housing Division, his humor and ability to work with diverse groups made him an effective coalition builder and advocate.

By the time I was appointed Director of DHCD, Bob had already moved on to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, where he headed their Low Income Housing Information Service. In this role, Bob educated the public and policymakers on housing needs and worked to develop national housing programs to meet those needs. NLIHC’S national membership provided experience working with an extensive network of state housing and homeless coalitions, enabling Bob to hone his skills in consensus building and collaboration.

It is impossible to overstate the significance of Bob’s almost 50-year career in the housing and community development industry. Through his engagement in both the public and private sectors, he has helped shape outcomes at the local, state and federal levels in almost every action that touches housing production and preservation–including land use and zoning, financial tools, housing accessibility and early, ground-breaking work on energy efficiency savings for low-income households. His experience and understanding of housing issues led him to implement solutions to some of our most challenging problems. His work with the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust and the Richmond Land Bank, which creates permanent affordable homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income households, is just one example.

In 2007, Bob founded Housing and Development Advisors. Their client list is a “Who’s Who” of organizations from the industry, including HousingForward Virginia.  In response to the history-making events of 2020, HousingForward—like many of us—made a commitment to address the issue of racial equity in housing. As executive director of HousingForward, Bob led the call on this work—to place priority on dismantling the disparities faced by families of color as well as improving access to quality affordable housing, wealth building, and better health for all our neighbors.

Bob’s resume tells an impressive story, augmented by the recognition he’s received from numerous local and national organizations. But all of these well-deserved accolades fail to capture the network of professional relationships he has made over the years or the rising leaders he has mentored. Throughout my career, like many of you, I sought out Bob’s advice and guidance as we worked together to improve affordable housing opportunities in the Commonwealth. Many of us directly benefited from Bob’s guidance and encouragement. He is looked to as a thought leader and innovator in many areas. Bob has been a key force in the growth and evolution of a vibrant affordable housing ecosystem in the Commonwealth. 

Together with Atlantic Union Bank, who has pledged a generous leadership gift, I hope you will join me today by donating to the Robert J. Adams Fund for Racially Equitable Housing.  By doing so, you will not only pay homage to Bob’s leadership and dedication, but also help pave the way for a better, stronger Virginia.


Bill Shelton
Former Director, Virginia DHCD

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