Author Archive for: H.A.N.D.

Fellowship Square and Community Partners: Uniting for Impact at the Annual Summer Food Rally

July 2, 2024
July 2, 2024

 

Last month, StarKist, Feed the Children, and Cornerstones hosted their third annual StarKist-Feed The Children Summer Food Rally aimed at combating food insecurity in Northern Virginia. The event successfully provided 21,000 pounds of donated food to five local food pantries and affordable housing nonprofits that reach vulnerable individuals and families in the region. Initially, this event was geared towards supporting families with children who depend on free or reduced-price meals during the school year and face challenges accessing food over the summer break. However, this year’s rally was expanded to include older adults, recognizing the unique challenges of food insecurity they face, such as physical difficulties in grocery shopping, meal preparation, and the financial dilemma of choosing between medications and groceries.

Fellowship Square, a HAND member and affordable housing and services provider for vulnerable seniors in the Washington DC metro area, was one of the five partners of the Food Rally. This event was an enjoyable occasion for Fellowship Square’s 300+ residents at Hunters Woods Fellowship House in Reston, Va., many of whom live on a restricted fixed income of less than $10,000/year, as it received widespread support and supplies from the Food Rally.

Nationally, food insecurity is a challenge that over 5 million older adults courageously face every day. In Virginia alone, 7.5% of the more than 1.9+ million seniors strive to meet thier nutritional needs. Addressing food insecurity requires collaboration and partnership. For Fellowship Square, partnering with Feed the Children (who focus on the other side of the age range!) and StarKist (who focus on the other side of the age range!) was an excellent opportunity to improve the lives of older adults by providing them access to nutrient-rich foods, contributing to a healthier Fellowship Square community overall. For additional information, please read the news release

Five Minutes With Lauren Marcus

March 4, 2024
March 4, 2024
 
 
The HAND network is hard at work to address the growing housing affordability challenge across the Capital Region. Five Minutes With is a series highlighting these members and other stakeholders. This informal conversation delves into their recent projects, the affordable housing industry, and more. 
 
In this edition, we had the pleasure of chatting with Lauren Marcus, Partner at Tiber Hudson. Take a look at our dialogue below to discover Lauren’s journey in the industry, her work with institutional lenders, bond underwriters, developers, and municipal issuers, and insights on public speaking and the importance of mentorship.
 
 
HAND: Congratulations on your new role as Partner at Tiber Hudson! Can you tell us about your journey to this point, particularly your work with institutional lenders, bond underwriters, developers, and municipal issuers?
LM: I love talking about my journey to this point because, looking back on the spring of 2016, when I graduated from law school, I never thought I would be here. I graduated from GW Law without a job offer and a “B” grade point average, which seriously felt like the kiss of death. During that summer, I studied for the bar exam, and once the exam was over, I started my job search. I saw a posting for a fellowship position in the Official of the General Counsel at the DC Housing Authority (DCHA); I applied and was hired within two weeks! I really enjoyed my time at DCHA, and it was especially meaningful because I was given the opportunity to interact with so many residents. There is nothing more gratifying than helping someone put their voucher to work after being on a waitlist for 10+ years.

After about 18 months, I was ready to make the jump to the private sector. While working on an affordable housing deal (representing DCHA as the developer), I had my first interaction with Kent Neumann, a founding member of Tiber Hudson LLC. He explained a complex bond structure to the working group, which immediately caught my interest. After that meeting, my resume made its way to Kent (thanks to one of my amazing mentors), and the rest is history! This June, I’ll celebrate 6 years at Tiber Hudson. From day one, I was thrown into all of the action. At certain firms, younger associates aren’t given the opportunity to interact with major clients at meetings, conferences, etc. But at Tiber Hudson, the partners were intentional about building my confidence early on. We’re a boutique law firm, so associates are tasked with managing deals from start to finish early in their careers. That allowed me to start building key relationships with our underwriter, developer, and lender clients. I’ve gained their trust and respect over the last 6 years, and I attribute that to the latitude I was given to be so hands-on and independent during my early days at Tiber.

 
HAND: How did your previous role prepare you for this new position?
LM: Although my title is new, my day-to-day hasn’t changed. At Tiber Hudson, we close about 250 deals a year. In light of that volume, all of the attorneys take a very hands-on approach to our transactions. Whether it’s document drafting and negotiation, cash flow preparation, or obtaining a rating from a rating agency, we oversee it all. As I’ve progressed at the firm, I’ve taken on more client relationships and business-building opportunities. My prior position as a senior associate certainly helped me hone my skills in these areas. Now, as a partner, I have even more confidence in my abilities as a public finance attorney.
 
HAND: The announcement mentions that you have been a featured speaker at industry conferences. Could you share some insights or key takeaways from one of these speaking engagements?
LM: Answering this question makes me smile because I used to HATE public speaking! As I alluded to earlier, my partners have always been intentional about including me in every aspect of our business. With practice, I’ve become more confident in my abilities as a public speaker and subject matter expert. One of my main takeaways is that accepting these opportunities is an excellent way to promote your firm and your “brand” as an attorney/expert within the industry. I am always pleasantly surprised at the positive feedback I receive from industry folks when they’ve listened to one of my presentations. Public speaking has given me a greater appreciation of how speaking engagements drive business and distinguish Tiber Hudson from others in the industry.
 
HAND: Tiber Hudson is described as a leader in the affordable housing industry. What do you think sets the firm apart from others in the industry, and how do you see yourself contributing to its ongoing success?
LM: Tiber Hudson prides itself on being proactive—as opposed to reactive—when it comes to changing trends in the industry. Inside and outside of the firm, I feel so fortunate to work with an amazing group of thought leaders and innovators in this space. I never want to be the smartest person in the room, and I believe that good people and good energy attract the same. Having a mastery of bond finance is certainly important, but ultimately, I believe that being a good person goes a long way in attracting and maintaining client relationships. My work at Tiber Hudson has connected me with many talented individuals, many of whom have become great friends. The cultivation of genuine friendships in the industry is one way I hope to continue to add to the success of the firm.
 
HAND: Since it is this month is Women’s History Month, can you discuss any contributions or advancements made by s in the field of affordable housing that have inspired or influenced your work?
LM: I’m so happy that this question gives me a chance to shout out two amazing African American women in this industry: Alethia Nancoo, Partner in the Public & Infrastructure Finance practice group at Squire Patton Boggs and Anitra Androh, Partner in the Real Estate and Affordable Housing practice group at Polsinelli PC.  Alethia and Anitra have been mentoring me since the spring of 2018. Back then, I was doubtful about securing a job at a major law firm because I didn’t graduate at the top of my law school class. Both women have been so selfless in their mentorship, including reviewing my resume, connecting me with members of their network and even conducting mock job interviews! They’ve both created such big names for themselves in DC and around the country, despite facing adversity and unique challenges in their careers. I’ve certainly been a beneficiary of their dedication to supporting younger Black women in the field and as I progress in the industry, I hope to pay it forward and do the same.
 
HAND: What is your “why”? What keeps you motivated to continue your work in this space?
LM: My early days practicing at the DC Housing Authority laid an amazing foundation for my work in affordable housing. As a Legal Fellow and later Associate Attorney in the General Counsel’s office, I was often given the opportunity to work one-on-one with public housing residents. Public housing residents are some of the most vulnerable individuals in our city because for generations, many have been victims of economic disenfranchisement and gentrification that fails to incorporate their voices and values into the fabric of their revitalized communities. Working at DCHA really solidified my goal of building more equitable neighborhoods. It is the end-user of the housing product that I help to create that serves as my “why” each day.

 

HAND: What might you be doing if you weren’t working in this industry?
LM: If I wasn’t working in the industry, I would be living and working on an animal sanctuary. I LOVE animals, big and small. My husband and I foster dogs through the local Humane Rescue Alliance, and it brings me so much joy. With more free time and a larger space, I would foster and rehabilitate animals fulltime. The idea of an innocent animal suffering breaks my heart, so I’ll take as many animals as possible!

 

APAH Resident Services 2023: Residents Making the Most of Their Home

December 14, 2023
December 14, 2023

APAH’s Mission
APAH’s mission extends far beyond four walls and a roof. As a nonprofit developer, we address regional affordable housing needs by developing and preserving quality affordable apartments while providing programs and services to empower residents to make the most of their home. Real estate development is just the beginning of APAH’s work. In addition to housing stability, we prioritize economic mobility; health, wellness, and senior support; children, youth, and families; and community engagement through onsite programming across our properties. APAH recognizes that when a stable home is combined with effective services and programs, it can be life-changing.

Prioritizing Resident Voice
Since 2012, residents have been members of APAH’s board of directors, bringing their lived experience to the table to shape and enrich APAH’s priorities and strategic decision-making. Including APAH residents at the board level provides invaluable perspective as we develop innovative programming to meet residents’ varying needs. To add another platform to gather resident feedback as APAH’s portfolio of properties grows regionally, APAH’s Resident Advisory Council launched in 2022. Resident representatives from each of APAH’s 21 properties volunteer monthly by meeting with staff to help shape programming and priorities for APAH communities. In addition, onsite resident services staff build rapport with residents daily at each property and design programs to help address resident-identified challenges and barriers. Residents are surveyed by onsite coordinators upon move-in so that APAH can learn about each family’s or individual’s goals and dreams. By working hand in hand with residents, we understand who they are, what their needs are, and how to best support their journey.

Residents Making the Most of Their Home 
The lifeblood of APAH communities is the residents who call an APAH apartment “home.” Families cooking a meal, children finishing homework, seniors sharing a coffee, and neighbors learning about each other are what make APAH communities special. By elevating resident stories in APAH’s communication strategy, we highlight the joys and resilience of our neighbors. Programs such as the Latino College Access Club, now in its second cohort due to a partnership with the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network and admissions expert Lyons Sanchezconch, is getting students college-ready by lowering access barriers around tools like the FAFSA process. The Snowden’s Ridge Diamonds Dance Team is unleashing the creative spirit of young girls and teens under the leadership of APAH’s onsite coordinator, LaNia Dixon. APAH is supporting the older adult population in the region at its newest senior residences by providing wellness programming, transportation assistance, social connections, and much more.

APAH believes that everyone deserves a place to call home–a foundation to live their dreams, and we will continue to work to make the region more equitable, diverse, and inclusive.

We hope this latest video inspires the HAND community to prioritize using every creative tool we can to elevate residents’ voices. Doing so with dynamic storytelling that showcases the dignity of the families that call our properties home, will, we hope, help move the needle on the critical housing and funding needed to support residents in the region.  

 

Five Minutes With David Nisivoccia

December 13, 2023
December 13, 2023

David Nisivoccia

The HAND network is hard at work to address the growing housing affordability challenge across the Capital Region. Five Minutes With is a series highlighting these members and other stakeholders. This informal conversation delves into their recent projects, the affordable housing industry, and more. In this edition, we had the pleasure of chatting with David Nisivoccia, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Volunteers of America National Services. Take a look at our dialogue below.

HAND: Congratulations on your new role with Volunteers of America (VOA)! Tell us more about your background and your organization’s work.
David: I’m happy to be returning to the DMV, having grown up in Northern Virginia. I’ve spent most of my career working on behalf of public housing authorities, including Fairfax, San Antonio, and most recently serving as the Executive Director of the Denver Housing Authority. I’m just wrapping up my first 100 days in this position at VOA, and I’m already amazed at the breadth and depth of housing, healthcare and human services provided by the team. I’ve had the opportunity to travel across the country, visiting our programs and housing sites, and a key commonality across these communities is the consistent undersupply of affordable housing.

Founded in 1896, Volunteers of America is a national, faith-based nonprofit organization that serves more than 1.5 million people in 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. VOA National Services is a wholly owned affiliate and one of the nation’s largest nonprofit providers of quality affordable housing, with a portfolio of 13,000 units across 38 states and Puerto Rico, as well as senior healthcare facilities and other related community health programs.

HAND: Having worked all over the country, you certainly have seen the housing landscape in different markets. What are some of the trends you have noticed?
David: More than 20 million American renters today are burdened with housing costs. As a result, the average family is extremely sensitive to economic volatility and is even susceptible to homelessness should their household face acute financial challenges. This is especially true here in the District and the surrounding region. With significantly more of the average household’s income going toward housing, that means less money is available for transportation, groceries, healthcare, childcare, and especially savings that could protect folks in times of crisis. Affordable housing is one of the most significant societal challenges of our time – and we aren’t going to build our way out of it fast enough using traditional methods or doing business as usual.

HAND: What are some of the biggest challenges when it comes to building more affordable housing for those priced out of the current market?
David: The National Multifamily Housing Council estimates that 4.3 million new rental homes are needed by 2035 to meet the demand. The challenges are stark: rising interest rates and construction costs, tumultuous equity markets, strong opposition to densifying neighborhoods, limited soft funding and oversubscribed bond cap, an overwhelmed and under-resourced workforce. We must use every single tool in the toolbox, and invent new ones that address the challenge from both the supply and demand sides. We need both carrots and sticks … accelerated entitlements and expedited permitting; efficiently-designed housing; modular and manufactured housing solutions, and new capital stacks that can work well together. And we need new partnerships, and opportunities for mixed-use projects that leverage capital markets and affordable housing programs.

HAND: There certainly is no shortage of challenges facing our sector. What is Volunteers of America doing here in the Capital Region to increase the supply of supportive affordable housing?
David: In partnership with Hoffman & Associates, D.C. United, and the D.C. Government, Volunteers of America is thrilled to relocate our national headquarters into the emerging Buzzard Point neighborhood of Southwest D.C., where we will bring together more than 100 full-time employees, co-located with 110 units of deeply-affordable senior housing operated by Volunteers of America National Services. Of these units, 69 out of 110 units will be set aside for seniors earning 30 percent AMI or less, which we believe is the most critical tier of residents to house.

We are currently exploring strategies to implement best-in-class technology supports to help address social determinants of health. The building is designed to achieve LEED for Multifamily certification, and every single unit will be accessible, allowing residents to age in place and take advantage of built-in infrastructure as their mobility and health needs change. The project also will include market rate multifamily and retail. We are excited to expand our reach in the District of Columbia and bring our national expertise to support local initiatives in the city.

HAND: Why is it important for Volunteers of America to move from your current headquarters in Northern Virginia into the District of Columbia, at Buzzard Point?  
David: In a time of significant office vacancy and hybrid work, Volunteers of America will bring a commercial office presence to DC, as one of our greatest strengths as an organization is being “in-community,” leveraging relationships, trust and connections in the communities we serve. We recognize the value of human connection, as that is what we do every day with the people we serve. Co-locating our staff teams with affordable housing and services in the District is a reflection of our commitment to ensuring we are “in-community,” connected on a daily basis to the communities we live in, work in and have the pleasure to serve. We plan to continue our work as a public policy partner and thought leader in advocacy efforts around affordable housing, making our voices heard and ensuring policies work well for industry practitioners like yourselves.

I look forward to growing our presence in the DMV, and working with all of you to answer the call for meeting the region’s affordable housing needs.

 

Five Minutes With Emi Reyes

October 20, 2023
October 20, 2023

The HAND network is hard at work to address the growing housing affordability challenge across the Capital Region. Five Minutes With is a series highlighting these members and other stakeholders. This informal conversation delves into their recent projects, the affordable housing industry, and more. In this edition, we had the pleasure to chat with Emi Reyes, CEO of the Latino Economic Development Center and HAND Board Member. Take a look at our dialogue below to discover Emi’s commitment to community development, diverse experiences, and insights on cultivating more equitable communities in the area.

HAND: The HAND Team is excited to have you on the Board of Directors! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your past work experience?
ER: I am honored and thrilled to be a part of the HAND Team as a board member! My journey began in Washington DC, where I was born to Salvadoran immigrants. Their hard work and determination instilled in me a deep passion for entrepreneurship and community support. This drive has guided my career, culminating in my current role as the CEO of the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC).

During my time at Bennington College in Vermont, I co-founded our college’s inaugural student farm, an experience that sparked my interest in working with agricultural entrepreneurs, particularly in Central America. Following my studies, I spent five years with Chipotle Mexican Grill, where I gained valuable insights and experience while managing locations across the DMV area and Albany, NY.

In 2018, I embarked on a new chapter by joining LEDC as an intern in the small business lending department. This led me to the role of loan officer which provided me with invaluable experiences, shaping my understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities faced by small businesses. It’s been an incredible journey, and I’m eager to bring this rich blend of personal and professional experiences to the Board of Directors at HAND. I am committed to leveraging my background and passion to contribute to the growth and success of the organization and its mission.

HAND: Tell us about how you plan to use your experience to inform HAND’s Board of Directors and staff.
ER: Over the years, I have cultivated strategic leadership skills from my work at LEDC where we constantly navigate challenges, identify opportunities, and execute strategic initiatives to drive growth and impact in our community. Also, working with diverse stakeholders, including government entities, nonprofit organizations, and community members, has allowed me to understand how to effectively engage with various groups. I plan to employ this experience in order to create meaningful dialogue and collaboration among HAND’s stakeholders, ensuring that our initiatives align with the needs and aspirations of the communities we serve.

HAND: What are you most looking forward to over the coming months at HAND? Are there any projects that you are particularly excited about?
ER: I am very excited about the GenerationHAND program. I believe that we have such an amazing opportunity to help bring up the next generation of community development professionals and leaders. Being able to offer our GenerationHAND Braintrust Committee’s experience to the industry’s emerging leaders is something that I am excited and proud to be able to offer.

HAND: One of the initiatives you’ll play a key role in is our GenerationHAND Braintrust Committee. What is one piece of advice you would give to professionals who are just starting out in this industry?
ER: One big piece of advice I’d give to up-and-coming professionals would be to build a diverse network that offers an array of perspectives and knowledge in a specific industry. In my experience working in the non-profit and CDFI industry, one of the most important things is that collaboration is key. Whether that is with government agencies, local organizations, community leaders, small business owners, or community residents— it is important to be connected to different areas of your field. It doesn’t only help on a personal and professional level, but it also enhances the work of the organization you are working at.

HAND: What is your “why” for working in this industry?
ER: My “why” for being a part of this industry is connected to my strong ties with my neighborhood and my commitment to ensuring that all residents benefit from community development. Growing up in DC, I’ve witnessed the progress and growth, but I’ve also seen that it hasn’t reached everyone. Many long-time residents are struggling with rising costs and limited opportunities.

I believe that true community development involves fostering an environment where all individuals can prosper. By working in this industry, we assume a pivotal role in closing these disparities by offering accessible financial resources and services to marginalized communities, enabling them to actively engage in the positive transformation and development occurring within their surroundings.

Being a part of this sector allows me to collaborate with other local organizations, community leaders, and residents to identify their specific needs and offer financial assistance or counseling to ensure they get exactly what they need. This work not only supports individual success stories but also contributes to the overall resilience and vitality of the community.

HAND: What might you be doing if you weren’t working in this space?
ER: If I weren’t working in this space, I believe my passion for the food industry would still guide my path. Growing up in a family of restaurant owners profoundly influenced my appreciation for the intricacies of the food lifecycle, from cultivation to cooking. During my time in Vermont, I worked in a restaurant and immersed myself in the kitchen environment, which I found exhilarating due to its intensity and demand for quick thinking.

I envision myself exploring opportunities that align with my love for food and the challenges of the kitchen. Whether it’s venturing into culinary entrepreneurship, sustainable agriculture, or culinary arts education, I am drawn to spaces that allow me to channel my full brainpower towards finding innovative solutions and contributing to the food industry in meaningful ways.

Five Minutes With Ronette “Ronnie” Slamin

March 7, 2023
March 7, 2023

The HAND network is hard at work to address the growing housing affordability challenge across the Capital Region. Five Minutes With is a series highlighting these members and other stakeholders. This informal conversation delves into their recent projects, the affordable housing industry, and more. In this edition, we had a conversation with Ronette “Ronnie” Slamin, founder of Embolden Real Estate. Check out our dialogue below to learn about her development firm, what she believes women leaders of color in the real estate industry can do to move the needle in a different direction, and the importance of explaining the multiple levels of housing affordability.

HAND: Can you tell us about Embolden Real Estate and about how you landed in the real estate development industry?
RS: Embolden Real Estate is the company that I founded in 2021, a development firm with consulting services related to project management, entitlements, and community engagement. The name of my company came to me when I was reading a book on education, as I’ve always wanted to work at the intersection of housing and education to improve educational outcomes.

I landed in the industry of real estate by way of an undergrad professor Joseph E. Corcoran at Boston College, who was a successful developer and a pioneer of mixed-income housing. I had returned from a summer service trip to Jamaica and was interested in ways to improve the infrastructure in the remote town I volunteered in. Coincidentally I took his class and realized that real estate development was a great tool to address infrastructure issues such as roads, homes and schools.

HAND: What excites you about working in the real estate development industry?
RS: I am excited about how every day in real estate development is different and how many hats you must wear, from project management, financing, design, construction, property management and sometimes even a social worker. As a person who gets bored easily, I love that it’s always changing and keeps you on your toes. I also love that you can see the result of your hard work just by walking past projects you have completed. 

HAND:  Keeping in mind the history of racism and its impacts on housing, how can leaders of color or, more specifically, women leaders of color in the real estate industry move the needle in a different direction?
RS: The history of racism in the housing industry is a painful reality with deep-rooted impacts that continue to be felt today. I think as an industry, we can move the needle in the right direction by being intentional about creating diverse work cultures and pushing for affordable housing to be in high opportunities neighborhoods.

As a woman of color, I believe we need to be intentional about creating a welcoming space for women and people of color, and by doing so, we will create a welcoming space for all. Research shows that women usually take on more family and household responsibilities. As an industry, we can make an effort to support women by scheduling events at different times (not always in the evening), offering better benefits, and flex work from home. To support people of color in the industry, I think it first starts by increasing exposure to the field. The real estate field is an unknown industry to many, so I think we will start seeing more diversity by creating that exposure and awareness of the opportunities.

HAND: Do you believe there is a “secret sauce” to addressing housing affordability and creating more equitable communities in our region? If so, what do you think that is? What do you think is the most significant obstacle?
RS: I don’t think there’s a secret sauce, but I would say I think it requires creativity and collaboration. Housing affordability is a huge issue that will not be fixed overnight and requires different tools based on the deal. I think if we can work together we will be able to have a huge impact. I would consider the largest obstacle to be marketing and optics. I think the word affordable housing has just become such a loaded term, and with many definitions, we often do not realize that we may not be talking about the same thing. When you mention the word affordable housing, you can sometimes raise red flags where, even if many in the community would qualify for that affordable housing. So, I think marketing needs to explain the affordability levels, the quality, and the great positive outcomes that can come from affordable housing.

HAND: What is your “why”? What keeps you motivated to continue your work in this space?
RS: I stay motivated to work in affordable housing because of its impact on residents and communities. Knowing that you’re providing families a home, a place to create memories, a place to feel safe, and a place to grow is very rewarding and motivating.

HAND: What might you be doing if you weren’t working in this industry?
RS: I would probably be in the sports industry if I were not in real estate. I was working towards being a sports broadcaster or agent before taking that real estate development class in college.

Five Minutes With David Bowers & Paul Stanford

December 7, 2022
December 7, 2022


  David Bowers                      Paul Stanford 

To wrap up this year’s GenerationHAND mentorship program we interviewed one of our mentor-mentee pairings, David Bowers (Enterprise’s Vice President of the Mid-Atlantic Market and Senior Advisor of the Faith-Based Development Initiative) and Paul Stanford (Director of Grants Administration at the City of Baltimore Department of Housing & Community Development). During our conversation, Paul attributed a large part in obtaining his current role to David’s mentorship. David also highlighted the value of the insights he received from Paul, which led to interesting perspectives about approaches to life and work.

HAND: Paul, congratulations on your current role as Director of Grants Administration at the City of Baltimore DHCD! Can you tell us about your journey to this point and how your mentor, David Bowers, played a role in helping you to secure your current position?
PS: Thank you. My journey in the housing field started as an AmeriCorps Member with Habitat for Humanity of Michigan during college. The exposure I received seeing the positive impact Habitat for Humanity had on the community and families they helped become first-time homeowners gave me clear direction on the career field I wanted to pursue: housing. Specifically, affordable housing.

From there, I continued to expand my career and gained experience in different areas of housing, from housing counseling, foreclosure prevention, housing policy, program development, real estate development finance and managing large local rental housing and grant programs with different localities in Virginia, District of Columbia Government, and now the City of Baltimore.

My role as  is special because I play an important role in providing and managing millions of dollars in funding for housing and community development projects that will provide affordable housing and an economic impact on much-needed areas in Baltimore and manage a team of dedicated staff members. I now work in the city where I live and bought my first home. During the interview preparation stage for the position, I reached out to my mentor David Bowers for guidance and interview prep assistance. David previously served in a leadership role within Baltimore on its Affordable Housing Trust Fund Commission and would be a great asset in helping me prepare for my interview.

During our discussions, David provided me with expert-level training on one of the main grant programs I would be responsible for under the position and how to manage a team effectively. Having these discussions with David in preparation for the interview increased my confidence during the interview process, which eventually led to an offer and my acceptance as Director of Grants Administration.

HAND: David as the vice president and Mid-Atlantic market and senior advisor of the Faith-Based Development Initiative for Enterprise Community Partners, you lead a team that provides local developers access to financing and capacity building/technical assistance. Additionally, you are engaged with local coalitions advocating for increased resources for affordable housing and community development, among many other hats that you wear. Prior to joining Enterprise, you were a program manager for a single-family housing program at the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust, a financial and programs advisor at the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, and worked in the office of U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski. You have extensive experience in housing and community development, especially working in collaboration with public and private sector stakeholders in Baltimore and DC. Can you tell us how your mentors have assisted you along your journey? 
DB
Professional mentors have assisted me in my journey with several critical lessons. An early lesson was to be willing to stretch beyond my comfort zone to engage in an opportunity that would expand my horizons and provide me with strategic experience and exposure.  This is how I ended up doing appropriations work during my tenure working with former U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski.  I was hesitant to take advantage of the opportunity because I didn’t think of myself as “a numbers guy” but more of a policy guy.  One of my mentors in the office essentially told me to sit down, shut up, and listen.  She then schooled me on the power of the appropriations process and how valuable it would be for me to learn that process and be in those rooms.  It was some of the best advice I have ever received.  A second lesson I was taught by a mentor was to think three moves ahead.  At one point, I was about to leave the Senator’s office to take a job that would have doubled my pay.  My mentor told me it was a nice next step.  But has counseled me to think of how it would position me for the second and third move after that.  He and I would play chess at times.  He always beat me.  Part of the reason is that he could consistently think three to four moves ahead.  I decided to stay on board and get more experience doing appropriations work.  That was a better long-term professional move for me though it required a short-term sacrifice financially.  A third lesson a mentor taught me was to always understand what I am looking to get out of an employment experience because the employer/company always knows what they are looking to get out of the employee.  Whether it is the impact I want to have via my labor or what I want for my own professional growth and development – be clear on what is in it for me.  She helped me understand the importance this plays in setting the dynamic for interaction over issues including work responsibility, pay, time and title.

HAND: Paul, why do you believe your mentor-mentee relationship with David was fruitful? Specifically, what actions or mindset did you have as a mentee that helped lead to the success of your relationship?
PS
No knock to present or past mentors in the program, but I have the best mentor. I could not have asked for a better mentor. David took the GenerationHAND mentorship program seriously by ensuring we met bi-weekly, took notes, followed up on challenges I faced, and met the entire scheduled meeting times. I respected our mentor-mentee relationship by being available and on time for scheduled meetings and being prepared to have open conversations with David.

My mentor-mentee relationship with David began before the opportunity with Baltimore. With David being previously involved with the City of Baltimore and having expert-level knowledge on one of the grant programs, I would be responsible for making me believe our mentor-mentee relationship and my current position with the City of Baltimore was meant to be.

HAND: David, what is something you took away from this program that surprised you?
DB
A pleasant surprise for me in the experience as a GenerationHAND mentor was the insights I received from my mentee. During our conversations, there were interesting exchanges where I heard interesting perspectives about approaches to life and work from a different view. A variety of factors were likely at play – being from different generations and having different life experiences.  I was surprised at how our conversations really became comfortable two-way exchanges.

HAND: Paul, what would you say to mentors and mentees considering joining the GenerationHAND mentorship program? 
PS
For those considering joining the GenerationHAND mentorship program, I would say do it. Mentors and mentees can benefit from each other and potentially create a long-term mentor-mentee relationship. Communication and setting meeting expectations are key to a successful mentor-mentee relationship.

HAND: David, why did you want to be a mentor in this program, and what advice would you give to future GenerationHAND mentors? 
DB
I was willing to be a GenerationHAND mentor because I believe strongly in giving my time, talent, and treasure to benefit others. Part of that is from a sense of religious obligation. Part of it is from a sense of moral and cultural obligation. Others have poured into me, so I am compelled to pour into others. My hope is that my insights, questions and listening ear….that the time I spent with my mentor will play some part in helping him have an even more abundantly successful career.  I believe each generation should go further than the one before–building upon prior generations’ work and lessons.  For future GenerationHAND mentors, I would suggest to be available, be open, be honest and be you.

 

Five Minutes With John Hall

November 21, 2022
November 21, 2022

The HAND network is hard at work to address the growing housing affordability challenge across the Capital Region. Five Minutes With is a series highlighting these members and other stakeholders. This informal conversation delves into their recent projects, the affordable housing industry, and more. In this edition, we had a conversation with John Hall, Loudoun County’s new Director of Housing & Community Development. Check out our dialogue below to learn about his nearly 30-year career, what excites him about working in the DMV region again, and what he believes is a “secret sauce” to creating more equitable communities in our region!

HAND: Congratulations on your new role as Loudoun County’s new Director of Housing & Community Development! You have extensive experience in housing and community development – can you tell us about your journey to this point?
JH: Thank you very much!  I cannot believe I have been working nearly 30 years.  My journey has been so fulfilling.  I am grateful for having the privilege to work with so many great communities.  I started in the banking industry with commercial loan servicing and real estate loan administration in Dallas, Texas.  I pursued graduate studies in New York to focus on poverty alleviation activities such as workforce development and all other social welfare policies.  I never imagined integrating my banking experience.  In fact, in my first position after graduate school, my boss told me she hired me because of my banking experience, which is what I was trying to escape.  What I found over the years is that the banking experience provided me with an acute awareness of affirmative covenants, regulatory requirements, as well as commercial acquisition and development knowledge.

I leveraged this knowledge with workforce development to build neighborhood assets with a couple of community development corporations in Texas.  As a non-profit developer, I worked with elected officials, board members and communities to increase rooftops and generate economic activity.  My position in Lubbock, Texas afforded me the opportunity to work with everyone in order to effectuate components of John McKnight’s Asset Based Community Development model. 

From there, I initially arrived in the mid-Atlantic region working at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.  I endeavored to preserve affordable housing on a national level by working in the Mark-to-Market program with qualified non-profit organizations.  Wanting to be closer to the action, I became a field office director at HUD for the capital region and later for the Commonwealth of Virginia.  I left this role as I was appointed agency director for the District of Columbia’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).  We achieved a lot at DHCD with affordable housing production, but what I am most proud of is the interdepartmental collaboration that institutionalized permanent supportive housing using the agency’s annual consolidated Notice of Funding Availability.  Since then, I have gained more experience at the local level overseeing entitlement grants and public housing agencies.

HAND: You were once the director of DC’s Housing and Community Development Department. What excites you about working in the DMV region again?
JH: I am elated to return to the DMV.  There is no place that possesses the intellectual capital this region has.  I am among friends in the business and look forward to re-activating networks to do great things together that benefit the residents of Loudoun County and the whole region.

HAND: As director of a newly established independent department, what excites you about your leadership role in this new department? Do you foresee any challenges? Are there key takeaways from your experience thus far that you are bringing into your new position?
JH: I am excited about the commitment of Loudoun County’s elected officials to provide attainable housing for everyone.  The County’s Unmet Housing Needs Strategic Plan (https://www.loudoun.gov/5278/Unmet-Housing-Needs-Strategic-Plan) has 143 key action items for us to create the opportunity for victory throughout the county.  Implementing public policy is my forte, and I am overjoyed to join the team.

Housing and community development is hard everywhere. Immediate challenges will be adjusting to rising mortgage interest rates and inflation.  To mitigate this, we must optimize resources with strategic collaborations to produce results.

I have always maintained a strong focus on compliance.  That may go back to my banking days.  We want to spend money wisely and appropriately to reduce any chance of grantors requiring repayment.  I also know that we must be results driven in a relatively short timeframe. Having shovel-ready projects in the development pipeline is key to delivering for county residents.

HAND: According to our Housing Indicator Tool (HIT), 45 percent of renters in Loudoun County spend more than 30% of their income on paying rent. How do you see your role in helping to navigate this issue?
JH: Households should not be rent-burdened.  My objective is to triage this challenge in various ways.  One way is to examine transit-oriented development opportunities.  Metro’s Silver Line recently commenced service in the county.  I see this milestone as an effective way for households living near stations to bundle their housing and transportation costs to improve their quality of life.  Enhancing programming such as the Housing Choice Voucher Program is another mechanism to reduce rent burden.  Participants can leverage the voucher with the Family Self-Sufficiency Program to increase wages whereby the differential in the rent increase is matched by the program and set aside in an escrow account.  Often times participants earn enough for down payments to purchase a home while then using the voucher share toward a mortgage payment.  I would like to see more emphasis placed in this regard to increase homeownership, generate wealth and stabilize families.

HAND: Do you believe there is a “secret sauce” to addressing housing affordability and creating more equitable communities in our region? If so, what do you think that is? What do you think is the largest obstacle?
JH: I believe the secret sauce is collaborating partnerships, where all parties bring resources for a specified period of time.  I do believe, however, that despite competing priorities, we all get done what we want to get done.  We just have to identify partners with shared vision and commitment in making our communities stronger.

HAND: What is your “why”? What keeps you motivated to continue your work in this space?
JH: My upbringing emphasized for me to take care of people around me and not just family but neighbors and community.  So, I am motivated to be the voice for people who are not in the room and who may not know how to use available resources to improve daily living.

HAND: What might you be doing if you weren’t working in this industry?
JH: I would be teaching financial literacy to increase the number of people who break cycles of poverty. 

Help Arlington County Track How Their Broadband Stacks Up!

September 21, 2022
September 21, 2022
 

Arlington County launched a broadband study as part of its effort to make sure residents have affordable, reliable access to high-speed internet. Arlington County will track how they stack up with their digital eCheckup assessment. Please share widely among your network and, if applicable, with tenants at your property:

What the Inflation Reduction Act Could Mean for DC Residents and Businesses

September 21, 2022
September 21, 2022
 
Last month, President Biden signed the largest investment in climate infrastructure in U.S. history, the “Inflation Reduction Act”(IRA). IRA details many provisions centered around clean energy, and its’ goal is to have long-lasting, positive impacts on residents, businesses, and the environment. The White House launched CleanEnergy.gov to provide guidance on rebates and tax credits offered by the IRA. Below is an overview of what the law’s rebates and tax credits could mean for DC residents and business owners summarized from DCSEU’s more detailed analysis of the IRA’s effects in DC.
 
 
What could this mean for DC residents?
 
  • The 30% tax credit extension will make going solar even more attractive.
  • The addition of battery storage technology can help residents increase their home’s and the electricity grid’s resilience.
  • The increased cap on credits for making energy efficiency improvements in your home will encourage more investments on an annual basis. This provision will also allow for credits on home energy audits and electrical panel upgrades for residents to move toward electrification.
  • High-Efficiency Electric Home Rebate Act could help residents make infrastructure upgrades required to decarbonize and electrify their homes and makes it more affordable for residents making 80% to 150% of AMI. 
  • Home Energy Performance-Based Whole House Rebates will allow the opportunity for low-income residents to make crucial efficiency updates to their homes with less out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Energy Credit for Solar and Wind in Low-Income Communities could further encourage the development of community solar in low – to moderate income communities.
 

What could this mean for DC businesses?

  • Grants for State-Based Home Energy Efficiency Contractor Training could help the contracting community gain necessary training and certifications to meet market needs that will be accelerated by the IRA rebates and tax credits.