HAND & Greystone Launch ‘Equity in Action: A Response to Ensure Access to Capital for Developers of Color’

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

Even in the midst of the growing housing affordability challenge, black and brown real estate developers are still facing the obstacle of accessing the capital needed to execute their plans to revitalize communities. HAND is pleased to announce that it has partnered with Greystone to launch Equity in Action, a debt and equity platform designed to increase opportunity for black and brown real estate developers who seek to create communities where all can thrive. Participating developers and investors will gain direct access to advisory and financing solutions for affordable housing construction, refinancing, recapitalization, and acquisition, including Greystone’s #1 ranked FHA lending platform.

Keeping with our commitment to center racial equity, HAND is intentional in embedding these values into our operations, creating solutions that drive just and equitable outcomes for communities of color. We know there is a vested interest in doing more of the same, and we strive to model for our members what it means to address the longstanding barriers that are woven into the very fabric of our society – benefiting a few at the expense of others.

The platform is open to current HAND members, and developers of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

Learn more about Equity in Action here.

You can access the full press release here.

VCDC Mission Elevation Program

March 24, 2021
March 24, 2021

 

It has been a challenging time for housing and community development nonprofits as demand for our work has increased, but resources have diminished. However, now more than ever, we know that a safe, affordable home is an important foundation for any individual or family – and our work must continue as our communities are relying on us. Here to help your nonprofit thrive is the Virginia Community Development Corporation (VCDC)’s Mission Elevation program. The year – long program brings together a cohort of like- minded organizations and provides access to custom mentoring & tools to help your nonprofit strategically face the top challenge impeding mission & impact in the communities you serve.

Learn more and apply today (applications are accepted on a rolling basis until a cohort is formed):

https://www.vibrantcommunities.us/resource/mission-elevation-program

 

Five Minutes with Scott Kline

March 18, 2021
March 18, 2021


Scott Kline (President & CEO)

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 the latest edition, we have a conversation with Stratis’ Scott Kline (President & CEO). Kline chatted with us about his extensive work experience in the housing and community development industry. He also highlighted the challenges he foresees for himself as he begins a new chapter of his career. Check out our dialogue below:

HAND: You have extensive experience in the housing/community development industry – can you tell us about your journey to this point?
SK: Sure!  My dad was a small developer down in southern Virginia. Growing up I frequently worked for him on weekends and over summers.  I really enjoyed the real estate development process – starting with nothing (new construction) or a mess (renovation) and transforming it into something new and beautiful.  With the combination of so many disciplines: architecture, construction, law, finance, asset management – it never got boring.  And the smell of construction!!!  When I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to work in the development business in the DC metropolitan area, which proved more difficult than expected.  I started working for a builder of new homes as an accountant, in hopes that I would be able to progress into actual development.  After two years, I realized that was a dead end.  From there I worked as an investment analyst for another large developer, until the Tax Reform Act of 1986 put them out of business and I was without a job.  It was then that I saw an advertisement for a position with responsibilities that included: negotiating for the acquisition of projects, developing scopes of work and financing plans, and project management.  It was for a “nonprofit” organization called AHC  formally known as Arlington Housing Corporation.  Candidly, I didn’t know what a nonprofit developer was, but the job sounded perfect.  The rest is history as they say.  I was hired by John Spencer, the founder of HAND, and I fell in love with mission-oriented real estate development.  I traveled to meetings with John when HAND was first established.  At that time, there was no annual meeting.  We met up with 5 or 6 nonprofits every few months, ate our brown bag lunches, and had informal discussions about the industry and our challenges.  HAND grew from there.  Eventually, when HAND achieved sufficient mass that an Executive Director was hired, I joined the Board and ultimately became the first President that was not John Spencer.  It was a tremendous experience. When John left AHC, I became the Director of Multifamily and coordinated all facets of real estate development, and oversaw asset management.

After eight years at AHC, I joined the National Housing Trust as Vice President. NHT was comprised of three of us at the time, and when I left after more than 23 years, there were 30 employees. Initially,  I worked on policy, development consulting, and assisted with running the organization.  In the year 2000, we started a separate affiliated 501(c)(3) corporation to develop and preserve affordable housing – NHT Communities formally known as NHT Enterprise Preservation Corporation. Added to my responsibilities was establishing and running NHT Communities. The work was similar to what I had done at AHC.  I gained the experience of developing affordable housing all over the country working with a variety of state and local governments. I’m proud of the accomplishments while I was there which included the preservation of more than 8,500 affordable units and incorporated $1 billion of financing.

Also at NHT, I established a separate affiliate energy company that focused on providing sustainable retrofits to existing affordable housing.  Most notably, we developed solar arrays which in total created 11,500 KW of electricity with financial benefits accruing to households of low- and moderate-income families and seniors.

HAND: Tell us about your newest chapter with Stratis. What excites you about your new firm? Do you foresee any challenges?
SK: For the first time in a long time, I’m not responsible for managing the organization, making payroll, and setting office policies that impact the lives of so many.  That’s a relief.  I’m excited about channeling that energy into more project work. I’m also excited about sharing my knowledge and ideas with others.  I’ve always enjoyed teaching. At the same time, I’m still learning.  There is nothing “cookie-cutter” about affordable housing development.  Every project is different and every developer has their own means, methods, and decision-making processes. I’m finding it fascinating to learn about new ways of approaching projects, different financing schemes, and different ways to run a development organization.

I do foresee challenges.  Mostly, I’m used to being the decision-maker.  As a consultant, I advise, providing the best counsel that I can.  But ultimately, decisions are made by my clients.  That takes some getting used to.

One thing I miss is the residents.  At AHC and NHT, I had a fair share of interactions with tenants.  That was informative and rewarding.  I don’t foresee having those kinds of relationships as a consultant.

HAND: What factor separates Stratis from other similar consulting firms?
SK: Me.  I have experience with a variety of financial executions.  In addition to low-income housing tax credits, tax-exempt bonds, multiple credit enhancements, and soft financing from state and local entities, I’ve worked on equity structures that do not involve tax credits, and utilized several HUD programs,  some of which allow for significant changes in rents.  Additionally, I’ve run an affordable housing development organization, so I’m familiar with the types of considerations and issues with which real estate developers are concerned.  In running that organization, I was responsible for all facets of the development, operations, and organizational management.  So regardless of my consulting assignment, I’m not approaching projects simply from the perspective of finance, and getting to a closing.  I’m conscious of other organizational considerations like predevelopment risk, sustainability, asset management, and resident services. 

HAND: What is one thing you wish you would have known at the beginning of your career?
SKThe business of creating affordable housing lacks the structure that is incorporated in some other careers.  For example, accountants receive ongoing training regarding their trade and to some extent, they do task A, then B, then C depending on the engagement.  While the complexity of the work certainly varies, there is some level of structure and predictable progression of the work.  Affordable housing development is anything but.  I’ve worked on projects that take 3 years from start to finish. I’ve worked on projects that take 12 years from start to finish.  Some involve intense local government participation, some involve virtually none.  Some involve intense resident participation, some involve none.  Some involve zoning issues and related processes which vary from one jurisdiction to another.   There isn’t a model or a template.  There isn’t a real estate development checklist that applies to every project.  I wish I had known at the beginning of my career that I would be teaching myself a process and that it would vary greatly from one project to another.  And further, that there is no one right way to do it.  If you provide the housing and turn a profit, you did it one of the right ways, and hopefully, you learn what you might have done differently that would have enhanced the outcome and maybe, just maybe, that knowledge will be beneficial on another project.

HAND: What do you think is the largest hurdle when it comes to creating and preserving affordable housing across our region?
SKBesides money?  More money.

HAND: What is your “why”? What keeps you motivated to continue your work in this space?
SKThe people we serve.  As noted above, I’ve had a fair amount of interaction over the years with the residents our industry serves —  families, elderly, supportive service recipients, homeless.  Their incomes have ranged from zero to low income to moderate-income to market rate.  I remember so many faces of low and very low-income residents as we celebrated their new homes.  The work is hard but at the end of the day, I’ve contributed to improving the quality of life for some individuals, and maybe even given them a platform to move up and create some wealth.

HAND: Do you believe there is a “secret sauce” to addressing housing affordability? If so, what do you think that is?
SK:Absolutely not.  As noted above, there’s not cookie cutter approach to this work.  Every project is different and there’s not one single model for developing and presering affordable housing.

HAND: If you weren’t working in this space, what might you be doing?
SKHonestly I have no idea.  It’s a question that I’ve pondered.  But I really can’t picture myself doing anything else but this. 

Five Minutes with SC&H Group

November 23, 2020
November 23, 2020

Ron Causey (CEO), Travis Daniel (Director)

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 the latest edition, we have a conversation with SC&H Group‘s Ron Causey (CEO) and Travis Daniel (Director). Causey & Daniel chat with us about the launch of the firm’s Affordable Housing Real Estate Service, which welcomed several team members from Hertzbach & Co. Check out our dialogue below:

HAND: A number of team members from Hertzbach & Co. have joined SC&H Group, launching an affordable housing real estate service at that firm. Can you share more details about this exciting move?
TD: Yes, we are very excited that our entire affordable housing real estate team joined SC&H Group. SC&H is a well-respected firm, and a great fit for our team and our clients – not only with respect to the diversity in services offered but also the company culture. The leadership of this group includes Andrea Hartman, Jeff Kleeman, Debbie Norris and me. Our group will be based in Sparks, MD.
RC: I’ll certainly echo Travis’ sentiments, and add that we are always looking toward the future, identifying new ways to expand our expertise to meet client needs, and reach new clients. In this case, it meant the opportunity to bring in many new team members that deepen our expertise in real estate and development tax issues and broaden our services to this industry. It was a no-brainer for us.

HAND: What is the affordable housing real estate team bring to the SC&H family? What can clients expect in the coming weeks and months?
TD: Our group encompasses a full-service team of tax, assurance and consulting professionals which focus on affordable housing. We have experience with all aspects of a project’s life cycle from pre-construction to exit strategies. We are very excited about the impact this will provide to bolster SC&H’s existing real estate capabilities. Our goal as a result of this transition was to continue to service our clients in the same manner but also expand our service offerings to our clients. With our move to SC&H Group we feel we will be able to meet this goal. Clients should expect to receive the same high level of service with the same group of professionals that have serviced their accounts for years.
RC: At SC&H, we are keenly focused on how we are serving our clients, colleagues, and communities. After spending time with Travis and the team and understanding their vision and values, we knew we were a perfect match. We are excited to welcome a new group of clients to the SC&H family that will continue to be led by a very talented group of professionals that is intimately in touch with their businesses and needs.

HAND: Can you tell us about your professional journey and how you landed in the affordable housing space?
TD: My professional experience started in the tax group at Hertzbach & Co. In that role I worked with many of the firm’s affordable housing clients. As our affordable housing client base grew it allowed me to spend 100% of my time in this space. I enjoyed the complexity of the industry and helping our developer clients meet this critical need.

HAND: What are you most looking forward to over the coming months?
TD: This transition was a long time in the making. I am looking forward to serving our clients from our new platform at SC&H Group and looking forward to expanding our group with several new team members. From a personal standpoint, I was at Hertzbach & Co. for 20 years and built many long-lasting friendships, and I hope to continue this relationship-building from my new home at SC&H. Thus far, everyone has been very welcoming and helpful. From day one, we knew we made the right choice.
RC: This was one of the most attractive parts of this opportunity for us – the ability to bring in folks that were just as passionate about their professional pursuits as their personal relationships. Throughout the process, and since the team has started, it has been clear they are good people who fit right into SC&H’s culture.

HAND: What is the most important takeaway(s) from your experience thus far that you’re bringing into your new role?
TD: I have learned that you can accomplish amazing things if you venture outside of your comfort zone. As a CPA we like our bubbles, but this transaction has helped me to get outside of that bubble. My goal is to continue with this mentality in my new role.
RC: There is no shortage of unique personalities and background at SC&H—it is part of what makes us special and enables us to challenge one another to do great work. We, too, like to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and it is always a positive when your colleagues are self-aware enough to recognize the importance of this.

HAND: What do you think is the largest hurdle when it comes to creating and preserving affordable housing across our region?
TD: The level of need.

HAND: Do you believe there is a “secret sauce” to addressing housing affordability? If so, what do you think that is?
TD: I am not personally sold on the “secret sauce” concept. From my vantage point I see a lot of people trying to address housing affordability in different ways. It seems every solution is somewhat unique.

HAND: If you weren’t working in this space, what might you be doing?
TD: If I wasn’t a CPA in this space, I would likely still be working in the industry but as a real estate developer.

 

Celebrate Veterans Day with Montgomery County

November 6, 2020
November 6, 2020
 
Remember our veterans on November 11th! Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH) serves veterans in both its emergency shelter and permanent supportive housing programs. You can honor Veterans Day by providing a financial donation, donating a meal, or by donating items that our veterans need.
 
The winter holidays are also approaching and MCCH is working to adjust its holiday gifts and meal donations for clients to ensure the safety of all. If you, your family, or an organized group would like to provide a meal to our shelter or one of our programs for any of the upcoming holidays, please reach out to: volunteer@mcch.net

Five Minutes with LaToya Thomas

October 23, 2020
October 23, 2020

The HAND network is working tirelessly 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 the latest edition, we chat with a new addition to our team, LaToya Thomas, HAND’s new Housing Indicator Tool Policy Director. Check out our conversation below, and you can learn more about the Housing Indicator Tool here.

HAND: You have extensive experience in the housing and community development industry – can you tell us about the journey you’ve taken to get to this point?
LT: Sure – it’s been a pretty colorful journey, to say the least.  First, for background, I’m trained as an urban planner with a focus in community planning, so that’s the lens under which I have approached my work in the various positions I’ve had over the past 15 years.

The bulk of my career has been spent working either in development or in architecture, and I worked primarily in project management, community engagement, business development, and marketing.  I also had the opportunity to work on projects that ranged from affordable and mixed-income housing to charter schools to public institutions, like libraries.  This background gave me a really unique perspective, as I was able to work on a mix of projects that were “community-serving” while also being able to sit on different sides of the table as these projects came to fruition and understand the many design, financial, and political considerations that are involved.

Now I am nearly 4 years into Brick & Story (sometimes I call it “The Lab”), as a way to blend my professional experience into a platform that can work creatively and in partnership the development community to bring the people we are serving into the conversation in a truly meaningful and intentional way.  Many say we focus on engagement and, while that’s true, we’re really focused on reconnecting people to the built environment and to the steps and processes that impact how the physical fabric of their community looks and feels – particularly because we know that some people have never had the opportunity to be part of the conversation around what happens in their community. 

HAND: Can you tell us about your latest role with HAND? What are you most looking forward to over the coming months?
LT: I am collaborating with the HAND team to support the regional rollout of the Housing Indicator Tool.  Much of my focus will be to provide education around the tool, design and implement activation events for the larger community to understand the tool, and facilitate policy discussions and help to influence policy decisions so that each jurisdiction is investing in appropriate resources and tools to meet their respective goals.

I am really looking forward to the regional dialogue and exchange that is possible and so badly needed around the issues of housing affordability.  I personally believe in the value of shared learning and collaboration when trying to solve problems like this, so I think the HIT presents an opportunity for all of to do so and helps us as a region guide our next steps.

HAND: What is the most important takeaway(s) from your experience thus far that you’re bringing into your new role?
LT: The importance of creative and collaborative partnerships rings loudest here; we often get stuck in our silos within the industry and forget the many different roles we each play in shaping communities, as well as the responsibilities that we have not only to each other as professionals, but also to the larger community of people out there who are impacted by the work we do and decisions we make.  We have a real opportunity to develop a true regional approach to addressing housing affordability at our doorstep if we are all willing to work together to understand what we each need to do to get there.

HAND: What do you think is the largest hurdle when it comes to creating and preserving affordable housing across our region?
LT: The lack of a coordinated regional approach is a major factor; our area is unique because int the District we are bordered by 2 states and 4 major counties, but depending on where you are, the real estate landscape can be like night and day.  Even the understanding of the need for housing affordability across multiple income levels is not consistent across the jurisdictions.  If the region can be thinking about housing collectively – not just from a production side, but also from a financing, subsidy, and policy standpoint – we might be able to tackle our affordability issues and see a bigger impact at the end of the day.

HAND: Do you believe there is a “secret sauce” to addressing housing affordability? If so, what do you think that is
LT: I’ll name one ingredient in the sauce that I think is key, which is the issue of depressed wages for those who are in need of quality housing the most.  We can’t have an honest conversation about addressing housing affordability if we aren’t prepared to talk about how to pay wages that allow people to move along the housing spectrum, whether that is moving from rental housing to homeownership or moving out of public housing and into an affordable rental or homeownership option.   Housing affordability is not just about providing a roof over someone’s head; it’s also about creating a stable foundation for someone to grow and thrive socially AND economically.

HAND: If you weren’t working in this space, what might you be doing?
LT: Owning and operating a bed-and-breakfast.  I’m all about 1) acquiring real estate and 2) creating cool, interesting, and intimate spaces where people can relax and have a meaningful, hospitable experience. 

Congratulations to the 2020 Todd A. Lee Scholarship Recipients!

September 29, 2020
September 29, 2020

Todd A. Lee, Former Executive Director and CEO of DC Housing Finance Agency

Congratulations are in order! DC Housing Finance Agency has announced three recipients of the 2020 Todd A. Lee Scholarship! 

The Todd A. Lee Scholarship commemorates Todd A. Lee, an outstanding District of Columbia legend, and honors his commitment to both affordable housing and education. Mr. Lee was the Executive Director and CEO of the Agency from 2016 to 2020. During his lifetime, his career focus was on innovation, infrastructure/process, and financing in real estate. He came to DCHFA because he wanted to have an impact in the city through the preservation and construction of affordable and workforce housing in the District ofColumbia. The scholarship benefits graduate students that aspire to be future contributors to the field of affordable housing. The scholarship was established in January 2020. More details on each of the recipients below:

Pictured left to right: Jason Harris, Lee Goldstein and
Khaleef Bradford

Jason A. Harris is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in real estate at Georgetown University. He completed his undergraduate degree at Howard University earning a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in Business Administration.

Lee Goldstein is pursuing his Master’s degree in Real Estate and Infrastructure from The Carey Business School at The Johns Hopkins University. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services and a Master of Public Administration, Urban Policy from the George Washington University.

Khaleef Bradford is currently attending the University of Maryland where he’s working toward his Master’s degree in Real Estate Development. He previously obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture with a minor in Real Estate Development from the University of Maryland.

Congratulations to all!

There’s Still Time! DOEE Offering No-Cost Benchmarking Data Verification

September 29, 2020
September 29, 2020

The Department of Energy and Environment is still accepting applications for its no-cost benchmarking data verification initiative! If you have a building over 50,000 square feet that is currently covered by the District’s benchmarking law, then you are eligible for free data verification. Data verification is a new benchmarking requirement established in the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018 and will need to be conducted by a third-party licensed professional in future reporting years. However, DOEE is offering a one-time no-cost data verification for your 2019 benchmarking data. With the upcoming Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS),having accurate and verified benchmarking data is especially crucial, as this data will be used to set the performance standards for the first BEPS cycle starting in 2021, as well as determine which properties fall above or below those standards.

If you are interested in receiving free data verification of your 2019 benchmarking data, you can access the application portal here. In order to receive data verification, you must completely fill out the application, answer all required questions, and provide all requested documents. If you would like to have more than one property verified, you will need to fill out an application for each unique property within the portal.

NVAHA to Honor 2020 Regional Housing Leaders and Celebrate its 15th Anniversary

September 9, 2020
September 9, 2020

 

Join the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance on September 17 to honor the 2020 Regional Housing Leaders and celebrate its 15th Anniversary! Working at the intersection of housing policy, advocacy and systems change over 15 years, NVAHA is the regional voice for housing in NoVA. Join housing colleagues, our sponsors, friends and honorees from across the region for this event that celebrates leadership, and the impact of partnerships and regionalism for more just, equitable communities.

Register here for this free, online event.

Task Force Brings District Together to Tackle Climate Change

August 12, 2020
August 12, 2020

From the Natural Resources Defense Council blog:

It should be no surprise that, as the capital of our nation and the seat of the country’s representatives in Congress, Washington, D.C., has taken the lead in convening a Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) Task Force that engages multiple, wide-ranging stakeholders in the environmental stewardship of their district.

While each city in the Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge has set forth its own plan for addressing climate change, Washington, D.C. is the first city in the country to establish a building energy performance standard for existing buildings. The last year was dedicated to actively involving those in the utility, affordable housing, residential and commercial building industries. In addition, feedback was collected from universities, green banks, governmental agencies, and many others, to collaborate on ways to support and implement the district’s new BEPS program, set to launch in 2021.

The BEPS program, created by the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) in response to the CleanEnergy DC Omnibus Amendment Act, is a key component in Mayor Muriel Bowser’s vision for a Sustainable DC: “In just one generation—20 years—the District of Columbia aims to be the healthiest, greenest, most livable city in the United States.” Key goals include a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2032; a 50 percent reduction in district-wide energy use by 2032; and 100 percent carbon neutrality by 2050.

The BEPS Task Force has pioneered a robust and extensive stakeholder collaboration process to achieve these goals. Since buildings are the source of 75 percent of the district’s greenhouse gas emissions and are responsible for much of the district’s energy use, engaging the commercial real estate development  and affordable housing industries, as well as hospitals and universities, is key.

Read the entire piece here.