HAND members are working everyday to create thriving communities throughout our region, in which everyone has access to affordable housing. In an effort to highlight these individuals and groups within our membership, HAND launched a digital interview series titled, “Five Minutes with” – an informal conversation with our members on why they are committed to their work, recent projects and more. In the latest edition, we caught up with Gerry Joseph and Paul Browne, who recently launched Joseph Browne Development Associates LLC. Keep reading for our conversation:
HAND: Why is affordable housing important to you?
JBDA: Both of us have spent the bulk of our careers working in the field of affordable housing in the non-profit sector. We believe that safe, decent and affordable housing is something that all Americans deserves but is illusive to most folks who need it. Moreover, we believe that the kind of affordable housing that is offered by HAND members is even more important because it comes with access to services and in high-opportunity areas.
HAND: Joseph Browne Development Associates is a joint venture between Joseph Development Inc. and Larkspur Development LLC – can you tell us how this came to be?
JBDA: Well, the business is organized as joint venture of two entities, but the work is done by two individuals who have been friends and colleagues for nearly 15 years. Gerry and Paul met when Gerry left The Community Builders in Massachusetts to join CPDC as its Director of Real Estate Development. Gerry left CPDC in 2010 to start Joseph Development Inc. JDI has had a steady book of business since then with occasional periods where the workload could have used an extra hand. Given our history and relationship, when Paul began thinking about starting his own consulting business, it felt very natural to envision a collaboration. Our respective skills and strengths complement one another very well.
HAND: What separates Joseph Browne Development Associates from other similar businesses?
JBDA: As two seasoned affordable housing developers who were steeped in the non-profit development culture, we have extensive direct experience with all kinds of affordable housing financing mechanisms, along with the judgment and tenacity necessary to get deals done. Together, we think we bring unmatched expertise and experience as people who have learned the industry as successful practitioners.
HAND: Have you run into any challenges so far? How did you and your team overcome them? What lesson(s) did you learn?
JBDA: Over our separate careers, we have encountered countless challenges (this is affordable housing, after all), but JBDA is so new that we have yet to run into any significant challenges. We have been in the industry long enough to know, however, that there are many hurdles in store for us. Right now we are concentrating on expanding our book of work to match our expanded capacity.
HAND: What are you and your colleagues most looking forward to over the coming months and years?
JBDA: Helping our peers and colleagues achieve their vision and, hopefully, a wider more universal recognition of the importance of our collective work in producing affordable housing relative to the health and stability of all communities.
HAND: What do you enjoy most about your work and why?
JBDA: We are both technical experts, and we get great satisfaction from finding solutions complicated problems. Ultimately, there is still nothing better in this business than getting to completion of a project and witnessing the joy and gratitude of a resident as they move into their new or renovated home.
HAND: What do you wish that you could change about our industry?
JBDA: While we earn our living knowing how to design and complete complicated financial transactions, we always say, there has to be an easier way to produce housing for people who need it! Overall our system for producing affordable housing needs much more resources and a much simpler financing and delivery structure. Easier said than done! One obvious issue is that financing tools discourage small scale development, which could more easily fit into existing, higher opportunity areas.
HAND: If you could describe your work in one word, what would it be?
JBDA: Discerning. (Paul’s word!); Tenacious (Gerry’s word!)