Advocates no longer have to pull numbers out of a hat when it comes to convincing community leaders of the need for more affordable housing.

The National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA) completed a six-month- long project to survey affordable housing management firms nationwide. They were asked how many of the housing units in their portfolios are government subsidized or financed by low-income housing tax credits.

The results are found in the NAHMA Affordable 50, a list of the top 50 affordable housing management firms. AIMCO; Interstate Realty Management; Concord Management, Ltd.; Capstone Real Estate Services; and Winn Residential made up the top five. They are ranked according to the number of affordable housing units in their portfolio.

AIMCO leads the pack with 96,000 affordable units out of a portfolio of 191,951 units. That’s more than twice as many as Interstate Realty Management, which placed second with 38,032 affordable units out of a 39,312-unit portfolio.

Interstate, which manages properties nationwide, has one of the largest HOPE VI portfolios in the country, according to its president, E. James Henderson Jr. It is currently operating 24 HOPE VI properties with 20 more under contract, for a total of 6,296 units.

“We are involved with nearly every governmental subsidy, from Sec. 221(d)(3), Sec. 236, Sec. 221(d)(4), Sec. 8, HOPE VI to tax credits,” said Henderson. He expects to manage 1,000 more units by the end of the year.

James McGrath, NAHMA president and president of Merchantville, N.J.-based PRD Management, Inc., believes that the survey will be a great advocacy tool to help convince lawmakers and community leaders of the need for more affordable housing.

“We look at the supply now and where do we stand? A lot of numbers get thrown around,” said McGrath.

Most people in the affordable housing industry think that the supply of affordable housing is around two million units, but that number is overstated, he said. The problem is that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) counts affordable housing units financed by low-interest mortgage subsidies, project-based Sec. 8 assistance, HOME funds and tax credits separately.

In fact, many of these units are financed by more than one of these federal subsidies, said McGrath. “You could see the fog that’s being created. When one living unit has four or five of the subsidies, the deduction Congress makes when they look at the supply is that there are five units when really there’s only one.”

By surveying affordable housing managers every year, NAHMA could spot various trends. For example, some management firms are removing older affordable housing properties from their portfolios, and nobody is tracking that, said McGrath. HUD estimates that number at 33,000 properties, but there is no information on the number of units and how many are being removed each year.

“If we can see a trend and learn why the properties are being removed from the portfolio, then we can work with [the managers] and HUD to preserve them,” said McGrath. “The preservation of affordable housing is very important to us.”