Pro bono work has been something of a second career for Javier F. Gutierrez, an attorney known throughout Los Angeles and Orange County for his dedication to the real estate industry and for his contributions to the community. “A lot of people won’t even take that phone call,” he says of requests for free help from attorneys. “And I will.”
He first chaired a ULI pro bono technical assistance panel that sought the best way to integrate a homeless shelter in a part of the county prone to NIMBYism. He used his aptitude for legal writing and research in a yearlong endeavor to produce a 68-page technical report for a rescue mission, creating a potential road map for the project. This led to his selection as a jury member for Breaking New Ground, an international design competition to address the urgent housing needs of farm and service worker families in a southern California valley.
He also was invited to join the board of American Family Housing (AFH), a nonprofit organization that provides housing for homeless and low-income people, and soon became chair of its real estate acquisition committee. “When someone says do you want to chair something, they’re basically saying, ‘Are you ready and committed to do the work?’” he says.
Under his leadership, AFH by year’s end will have completed four housing projects accounting for nearly 100 new beds for the homeless. The crown jewel is the soon-to-open Potters Lane, providing affordable apartments for veterans. The two-story building, made from steel shipping containers and designed by a local architect, includes 16 480-square-foot (45 sq m) apartments, an interior social area, and an attractive exterior courtyard. Move-in is scheduled only five months after construction began.