When I started to work at AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE in January 2001, I knew nothing of the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC).
But over the past decade, I've learned a lot about this successful housing program from the individuals, developments, and technical guidance that fill the pages of the magazine as well as from meeting different people from the industry and listening to them speak at the magazine's annual conference.
The one thing I learned pretty quickly wasn't about the LIHTC program per se, but about the industry as a whole.
The people who produce low-income housing—the developers and owners, accountants, lawyers, architects, syndicators, investors, lenders, property managers, state housing finance agency officials, etc.—all are part of a community dedicated and passionate about the work they do and the people they serve.
For this issue of AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE, I had the pleasure of talking with several industry leaders as well as residents about what the program means to them as part of our 25th anniversary coverage. And their words painted the picture of how instrumental this program is.
As to the sense of community, Ronne Thielen, managing director at Centerline Capital Group, says she feels fortunate to be working alongside some of the “smartest in the business” and learning new things each day.
Working on both the private and public sides of the industry, she says she has made lifelong friends who want to help people for the long term.
Developer and owner Michael Costa, president and CEO of Highridge Costa Housing Partners, says one thing he doesn't see in other real estate circles is the openness of the LIHTC industry players at all different levels sharing their best practices.
“No one is trying to outmaneuver or get one up on someone,” Costa says. “There's an overall sense that we're doing something really good here."
Personally, Costa says he gets the most joy from the grand openings of each of the properties because it's a chance to thank the people involved as well as an opportunity to witness the residents celebrating their new homes.
“Residents will come up to me and tell me their background, and I'll get the most genuine thanks,” he says.
Orlando Cabrera, CEO of nonprofit developer National CORE, has worn many different hats in his career, including as head of the Florida Housing Finance Corp. and as assistant secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“I cannot tell you in adequate terms the number of people who have come to me and have thanked me,” he says.
But the one comment that is testament to the LIHTC program and the community comes from a lovely, chatty senior, Lueida Lowe, who lives at National CORE's San Marino Apartments in Montclair, Calif. She says, “I'll give the San Marino Apartments and the staff an A+ because they are truly wonderful."