Matthew Rieger's Housing Trust Group has developed more than 4,000 units of multifamily housing since its inception, in the late 1990s. The Miami-based firm recently closed on $22.8 million in financing to build Courtside Family Apartments, which will provide housing to 84 local families earning no more than 60% of the area median income.
Courtside is one of several projects Rieger, president and CEO of Housing Trust Group and an attorney, is working on this year at the company co-founded by his father, Randy Rieger. AHF recently sat down with Matthew to learn more about the path to his firm's success.
How is your company changing?
It's important for us to always be diversified. We learned from the downturn that … you're much better off having various businesses. We've always tried to be focused on both affordable and market-rate multifamily housing. That's how we try to be diversified.
Is most of your business affordable?
For a period of time, it was mostly market rate. Now, I'd say it's probably about 80% affordable and 20% market rate.
How did the housing crash affect you?
The effects were probably very similar to what happened to almost every other company. That has to do with layoffs, downsizing. The good part is we were one of the companies that emerged out the other side. Everyone went through the downturn; not everyone emerged out the other side stronger than ever. That's the one thing I'm most proud of.
How did you do it?
There's a degree of luck involved. Outside of luck, it's determination. It's perseverance. It's hard work. It's not willing to take no for an answer. It's figuring out a way despite tough odds. I'm sure there were people who had better situations than I was in who threw in the towel. We were just not willing to do that.
Have you been using any interesting new financing programs?
There are two programs that helped us get a couple of new deals done. The first is the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. We participated in NSP II in Lake Worth, Fla., when we developed Pine Run Villas, 63 townhomes targeted to families. There's nothing like it in all of Palm Beach. To be able to provide tenants who are making 60% of the area median income and less with three- and four-bedroom townhomes wasn't easy, and it took a new program to make it happen.
I remember speaking to some of the tenants who had just moved into their homes. They had never had a brand-new refrigerator in their lives. They had never had a brand-new dishwasher—some had never had a dishwasher of any sort. To be able to provide that type of product to an income-restricted tenant is why we do this.
Other forms of development make more money, but no other form of development lets us have the combination of financial success and gratification from doing a very, very good thing for the citizens of the counties and cities we serve.
The other program [that has facilitated deals for us] is the combination of financing for Courtside Family Apartments, with its 4% tax credits, bonds from the Housing Finance Authority of Miami-Dade County, and surtax loan from the county. There's also a $7.5 million grant/loan from the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency. That was the key piece that made this all happen.
Name a favorite amenity or design feature at one of your projects.
Village Place in Fort Lauderdale. It was formerly a market-rate site with market-rate plans. We eventually acquired it and applied for 9% tax credits. We were fortunate enough to win in 2011, completing construction in 2014. The architecture there is so stunning. To have an affordable housing development focused on seniors that has ocean views is special.