Bryan Butcher is at home at the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. (AHFC).
He returned to the agency as CEO in August after spending more than two years as commissioner of the state’s Department of Revenue. Butcher had previously spent eight years at AHFC as director of governmental relations and public affairs.
“I’m happy to be back,” he says. “I think the staff is, too. We’ve worked together for many years. Any time you lose an executive director who has been the head of an agency for 18 years it is going to be a substantial change for folks. I think this is about as seamless as you can ask for.”
Although Butcher is well familiar with the agency, he has been spending much of the last few months getting reacquainted with AHFC’s longstanding programs and learning about new ones, including the recently established subsidiary, Alaska Corporation for Affordable Housing (ACAH).
The new corporation was formed to partner with developers on affordable housing projects. ACAH’s mission will be to undertake the types of affordable housing and services that are not open to AHFC directly, but which supports AHFC’s mission of providing affordable housing and services.
Officials have plans for a project in Anchorage but have not yet selected a developer, according to Butcher
AHFC also has a new mortgage program that can help buyers with downpayment assistance, a service that hadn’t been available before.
Butcher replaced Dan Fauske, who led the agency for nearly two decades before recently stepping down to concentrate on the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. (AGDC). Affordable housing and pipelines may seem like an odd pair, but AGDC was formed as a subsidiary of the housing finance agency during the state 2010 legislative session. With its expertise in project oversight and state finance, AHFC was selected to lead the pipeline project team.
Asked about his overall plans for the housing agency, Butcher cites a desire to boost the mortgage side of its business. AHFC has been trying to find its niche–downpayment assistance would be one of them—to help fill voids in the state’s housing market.
AHFC also operates 1,628 public housing units and administers 4,020 housing vouchers in the state. “We have a situation very similar to every state in that for every voucher or public housing unit we have, we have many times more people on the waiting list,” Butcher says.
In the past year or two, AHFC has had to close its waiting lists in some communities because the demand is so great.
The agency also allocates low-income housing tax credits. Butcher and his team continue to look for ways to allocate housing credits in a state that three main urban areas—Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau—and many remote rural areas. “Trying to maximize our tax credit program while somehow dealing with the issues in rural Alaska is probably our biggest challenge,” he says.
The state makes its allocations in the prior year, so by the end of November it will have completed its 2014 cycle. AHFC’s 2014 allocation plan was the same as the 2013 plan, says Mark Romick, director of planning and program development.
The qualified allocation plan will be put back out for public comment for the 2015 cycle.