IHC Global mourns the loss of founder and emeritus chairman Peter Kimm
CHEVY CHASE, MD, June 24, 2019 – It is with great sorrow that IHC Global shares the news of the death of one of its Founders and Emeritus Board Chairman Peter Kimm, who died peacefully at his home on Saturday, March 30, 2019. He was 89.
On Saturday, June 22, 2019 a multitude of colleagues, friends and family joined a memorial gathering in Potomac, Maryland. Among them were many former staff members of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Housing and Urban Programs, of which Peter was the long serving Director. The Counselor to USAID, Christopher Milligan represented USAID at the gathering and spoke of the impact that Peter had in his distinguished career.
IHC Global will be forever grateful that following his 2002 retirement Peter Kimm brought his worldwide reputation and thought leadership in international urban development to play a critical role, together with Habitat for Humanity, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), in the creation of the International Housing Coalition (IHC). Peter was steadfast in his belief that a nonprofit organization bringing together like-minded people and organizations could, through expertise, advocacy and continually “pushing the envelope” for housing and decent living conditions for the global urban poor, would help end poverty and support democratic societies worldwide.
Peter served as the first Chair of the IHC Board of Directors. Although he stepped down as Board Chair in 2012, he continued to play an active role on the Board of Directors as Chairman Emeritus during the merger and until the time of his death. The IHC and the International Real Property Foundation (IRPF), an organization founded in 1992 and formerly known as the Eastern European Real Property Foundation, in which Peter also played an instrumental role, merged in 2017 to form IHC Global.
On the news of his passing, IHC Global President and CEO Judith Hermanson said, “Peter was more than an exceptional person, he is a legend in international housing and urban development. He had enormous impact through his work at USAID, which fundamentally shaped affordable, decent international housing and urban development approaches and practices. He continued that work at IHC Global and was a consistent source of wise counsel and support, always generous with his time, and insightful with his guidance. We will greatly miss his presence even as we endeavor to honor him and his legacy through IHC Global’s work and our unwavering belief that when people are able to have a safe and secure place to call home, people thrive, communities prosper and democratic societies are strengthened.”
Peter Kimm worked for 36 years at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), including as the Director of Housing and Urban Programs. At USAID, he was an influential thinker who pioneered many approaches to making affordable shelter more widely available for all, and to ensure that homeowners had clear titles to their land. Peter relentlessly pursued his mission to provide sustainable housing for the poor and revolutionized the construction of such homes in the developing world. He supported building national capacity to help urbanizing countries meet the enormous challenges of delivering housing and decent living conditions to their citizens.
He was committed to keeping prices low for new homeowners and was a hard negotiator with governments who wanted to build middle-class housing instead of more accessible, low-cost homes. He fostered self-reliance and blazed a trail that incorporated private sector roles in meeting housing demand, including ground-breaking work with the US National Association of Realtors (NAR) as the Iron Curtain came down in the 1990’s and the political and economic transition to democracy and market economics began.
Joe Hanauer, Chair of the IHC Global Board of Directors said, “Peter stood for all that’s good about caring and effective public service. He cared, did something about it, provided ideas, creativity, leadership and endless energy. I first encountered Peter in Moscow in 1991 as part of a small coalition he formed to work with Russia on housing reform. Therein began his continuing positive influence on the US real estate industry’s commitment to help countries in need improve standards of living through improvement of housing…I benefited greatly from his counsel as did the countries and causes he enabled and that the former IHC and the former IRPF served. Both of these organizations were a direct product of his creativity and leadership. We exist today as IHC Global because of Peter.”
His public service career began after hearing President Kennedy’s call to “ask what you can do for your country,” and he and his family embarked on a journey to pioneer sustainable financing and construction for affordable housing around the world. He took his family from New Jersey to Mexico, working with an organization similar to the Peace Corps as well as the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD), before beginning his decades-long career at USAID. He received many honors during the course of his impressive career, including the Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive Award, the most prestigious recognition that can be given to a member of the U.S. Senior Executive Service. He also was given the United Nations HABITAT Scroll of Honor Award, for 30 years of “outstanding service assisting developing nations worldwide. His practical, hands-on experience made him a great mentor and coach. In addition to having played a transformational role in the lives of millions in the developing world, Peter was very influential in the professional lives of many of those with whom he worked.
Peter Kimm graduated from the Cooper Union in New York City, and received his professional civil engineering license in New York State. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War from 1951-1953 during which time he received multiple awards as a Master Sergeant commanding a combat construction platoon.
His philanthropic work, in addition to his support for IHC Global, included involvement in the Poor People’s Campaign. He was an avid bicycler and athlete who later enjoyed his monthly “New Yorker” reading group with his friends and fellow cycling enthusiasts. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Grace Kimm, his children Mary and Christopher, 10 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren, as well as his brother Victor and family. He was pre-deceased by his son Peter.
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