About the Center

About Joseph E. Corcoran

Joseph E. Corcoran grew up during the Depression in Dorchester, the youngest of eight children of Irish immigrants. He knew his family was poorer than the Brahmins who lived up on the hill, but loyalty to the community prevailed over any divisions. "Everyone looked out for each other, and that was my concept of what a neighborhood should be."

Joe did not forget his neighborhood. After the Korean War, he went to Boston College on the GI Bill®, "where I learned what St. Ignatius did to make the world a better place." In 1973, he founded the real estate development company Corcoran Jennison, which would build $2.5 billion in properties nationally. He made it his mission to bring people from different incomes together and provide social services for those of humble means. He ignored naysayers who doubted that market rate renters would live with poorer people. "I knew it would work because I lived it growing up."

Corcoran Jennison earned a national reputation by transforming a Boston neighborhood now known as Harbor Point from a crime-ridden housing project into a safe, vibrant mixed-income community that the residents are proud to call home. Joe blazed the trail for mixed-income developments by helping to enact state legislation, chairing the real estate registration board, and founding a nonprofit to revitalize distressed urban neighborhoods. "People don't grow up in poverty," he says, "they grow up in neighborhoods."

Joe was a great friend to Boston College, guiding the school's physical growth, serving as a trustee, and teaching a course in real estate development. With the center, many more can follow his path, blending a lucrative profession with a passion for giving back and energizing renewal in American cities. 

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.