Posted on June 19, 2017 by Jorie Helms

The National Housing Hall of Fame recognizes people whose spirit, ingenuity and determination have changed the nation’s housing for the better, making America one of the best housed nations in the world.

This year’s Hall of Fame inductees have been instrumental in advancing housing opportunity for all Americans as our nation strives to achieve the goal set forth in the landmark Housing Act of 1949 of “a decent home in a suitable living environment for every American family.”

All have had a positive impact on the nation’s housing, and they have been instrumental in the long-term effort to ensure a positive and prosperous future for the housing industry. Our industry bestows no higher honor than induction into the National Housing Hall of Fame.

Carl A. S. Coan Jr.
Washington, D.C.

Carl A. S. Coan Jr. was a tireless advocate for the development and provision of housing for all Americans, especially low- and moderate-income families. Through his years of government service, his tenure at NAHB as a lobbyist, and his many years in private legal practice, Coan was a forceful champion for housing. He left his imprint on key affordable housing legislation enacted over the last five decades, most notably the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968. He also contributed his considerable knowledge and skill to the drafting of the Fair Housing Act.

Coan believed strongly in the cause of housing and the importance of providing decent, safe, sanitary and affordable housing to all people. Having devoted his life to furthering the cause of housing, he joins his father, Carl A. S. Coan Sr., in the National Housing Hall of Fame.

Robert R. Jones
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

As NAHB chairman in 2010, custom home builder Robert R. Jones led the home building industry in its struggle to survive the worst housing market in more than seven decades.

A long-time industry leader, Jones also played a key role in establishing U.S. legal precedent in 1988 for damage awards to home builders in copyright infringement litigation. Jones is known for working tirelessly for housing, for his belief in continuing education, for his dedication to philanthropy, and for serving as a mentor to many others in the home building industry.

During his long career in the home building industry, Jones chaired and participated in many association committees and task forces and held leadership roles at all levels of NAHB. This provided him with opportunities to be involved and give back to the industry — and members — because they have done so much for him.

Robert Nielsen
Reno, Nevada

A long-time advocate for affordable housing, Bob Nielsen was instrumental in the creation of the Nevada Low Income Housing Trust Fund. His Reno-based home building firm, Shelter Properties, concentrates on building affordable housing for families and senior citizens as well as conventional multifamily communities.

As NAHB’s 2011 Chairman, Nielsen helped guide the association through the prolonged effects of the housing market crisis. Nielsen has been appointed twice to serve on the board of directors of the San Francisco Federal Home Loan Bank and also served on the Fannie Mae National Advisory Council. He was one of the founders of the Affordable Housing Resource Council, which offers technical assistance to anyone with an interest in producing affordable housing. Long active in NAHB, Nielsen has held leadership positions at all levels of the association.

Arthur Rutenberg
Clearwater, Florida

Active in the home building industry for more than 60 years, Arthur Rutenberg played a key role in creating the U.S. Home Corporation, which was one of the nation’s largest home builders at the time.

Rutenberg was known for his innovative approach to home design and the use of technology to streamline both the home building and the home buying process. He is also credited with introducing the split-bedroom floor plan, which is now a staple of home design, particularly in Florida. The split design positions the kitchen at the center of the house with bedroom wings on the sides. It emphasizes long sight lines through the house to the outdoors.

An astute businessman, Rutenberg also pioneered franchising in the home building industry. At the time of his passing in 2017, there were 43 Rutenberg franchisees operating in eight states.

The National Housing Hall of Fame inductees were honored June 17 during the NAHB 2017 Midyear Board of Directors meeting. Learn more about the National Housing Center Awards.

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