Jim Chandler has announced his retirement from the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) after 40 years of service. He will close out his career in February.
As director of the state’s low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program for the past 18 years, Chandler has helped refine the program, including encouraging the use of green-building strategies.
He recently received the Visionary Award from EarthCraft Virginia in recognition of his leadership in sustainable housing. Under Chandler’s leadership, almost 14,000 apartments in the state have been EarthCraft certified, with 3,000 units under design and construction.
“We have had an emphasis on our green-building activities for a number of years,” he says. “We just had a study completed with Virginia Tech and Housing Virginia that indicates tax credit developments help save the tenants as much as 40% of what a typical apartment utility cost would be.”
That savings goes a long way for a low-income family that may be just a flat tire away from not being able to pay the rent, he says.
While Chandler has been firmly rooted in Virginia, his influence extends beyond the state. His longtime and steady presence has made him the dean of LIHTC allocators.
“As director of VHDA's LIHTC program, Jim is a visionary leader, always seeking out new and better ways to bring affordable housing to Virginia,” says Michael Novogradac, managing partner of Novogradac & Co., an accounting and advisory firm that works in the LIHTC field. “Jim's openness to different and creative means to marshal resources is central to his ability to help finance, build, and retain Virginia's affordable housing stock. He openly shares his ideas with others, allowing him and VHDA to lead the way for other state housing finance agencies.”
Chandler first joined VHDA when he was about 29 years old, starting as a construction cost analyst. The agency was looking for someone with knowledge of construction costs, and Chandler fit the bill with a degree in building construction and experience working at several contracting firms. He was charged with making sure VHDA’s construction loan amounts were in line with the work being done.
He then served as supervisor of construction inspections for many years before becoming a development loan officer, underwriting both construction and permanent loans. From there, he moved into the LIHTC arena. While working as a loan officer, he would help out on the tax credit side, underwriting the feasibility credit amount. That’s how he became familiar with housing tax credits.
He then became director of the LIHTC program in 1997. VHDA has about $19 million in annual LIHTC authority.
Chandler was instrumental in helping the agency win the National Council of State Housing Agencies’ first-ever “Going Green” Award in 2008, as well as helping Virginia receive Global Green USA’s top ranking for green building practices in the Southeast in 2013.
For Chandler, his job has provided its own rewards.
“It’s something that makes you feel good at the
end of the day,” he says. “You are helping to create housing that people