Elizabeth Lassar (Betsy)
Policy Analyst, Housing Program
Elizabeth “Betsy” Lassar joined BPI for the second time in 2007 as a Policy Analyst, focusing on housing and community development. She worked as Staff Counsel from 1977-84. To confront the challenges of vacant and abandoned buildings caused by the foreclosure crisis, Betsy helped produce a toolkit for municipalities and a publication in conjunction with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus on vacant property ordinances as a strategy for confronting vacant building challenges. In the spring of 2021 – after more than 6 years of engaging with partner agencies and funders in planning and development – Betsy, along with Alexander Polikoff and other BPIers, helped launch an effort to demonstrate that family-centered services will help low-income families receiving federal Housing Choice Vouchers foster economic mobility by taking foundational steps toward financial security, homeownership, and wealth-building.. Betsy co-leads BPI’s work as a project manager during the implementation stage.
Betsy holds a JD from Northwestern University and a BA from the University of Michigan. She was elected to BPI’s Board of Directors in September 2007. Prior to returning to BPI, Betsy served on the City of Highland Park Housing Commission and later as the first Housing Planner for Highland Park, where she played a leading role in developing, securing City Council approval, and implementing the city’s Affordable Housing Plan, including – with technical assistance from BPI – the adoption of the first inclusionary zoning ordinance in Illinois. Betsy is a founder of Community Partners for Affordable Housing, where she now serves on the Advisory Board.
A commitment to work that seeks to address root causes of poverty and inequality and provide equal access to opportunity has driven Betsy’s volunteer and professional life, including leadership roles in Highland Park and Lake County organizations to promote affordable housing; co-authoring a book with Alexander Polikoff, A Brief History of the Subordination of African Americans in the U.S.: Of Handcuffs and Bootstraps (2020); and work at BPI to expand housing choice for low-income families.