With 31,418 units, Michaels Development Co. is the largest owner of affordable housing, and with 1,856 units started in 2006, The NRP Group is the top developer, according to a national survey by Affordable Housing Finance.

These two firms head AHF’s inaugural Top 50 lists, a ranking of affordable housing owners and developers. For the first time, readers can see how many units are owned and are under development by the leading companies.

“The AHF 50 not only shows the depth and activity level of affordable housing owners and developers today, but over the coming years, we hope it will serve as a valuable benchmark for the affordable housing industry,” said Christine Serlin, AHF’s executive editor.

As expected, some other heavyweights, including Volunteers of America, Mercy Housing, McCormack Baron Salazar, and Simpson Housing Solutions, made the list.

Some familiar names, however, are missing from the AHF 50. That’s because the results were compiled from a voluntary survey of developers and owners. “If your firm was not represented this year, we urge you to take part in the survey next year,” Serlin said.

It’s important to note that the AHF 50 focuses on low-income housing tax credit and tax-exempt bond developers who are general partners. Housing tax credit syndicators and investors are not included.

The firms that made the lists are impressive. The Top 50 owners hold 282,081 affordable housing units. The average number of units held by those on the list is 5,425. A dozen of the listed companies operate nationally.

Thirty-four are for-profit companies, and 18 are nonprofit organizations. Four nonprofits made the Top 10. A total of 52 firms are on the list because of ties.

The Top 50 developers’ list was based on the number of actual starts in 2006. In all, the firms in this group started 23,462 affordable housing units. Their average number of starts was 469 units. Ten of the companies operate nationally.

The list was made up of 38 for-profit companies and 12 nonprofits. Three nonprofit organizations cracked the Top 10 and six made the Top 20.

To top the developers’ list, The NRP Group, a national developer headquartered in Ohio, started more than 1,800 units and completed 1,650 units in 2006. It plans to do even more this year.

“We have the ability to act quickly,” said Alan Scott, managing member. “We have good systems in place and good people. People are everything in our business.”

The NRP Group is a full-service developer, general contractor, and property manager. The firm, which owned about 6,000 affordable units at the start of 2007, has developed affordable and market-rate developments as well as multifamily and single-family properties.

In compiling the lists, Affordable Housing Finance magazine heard from firms with decades of tradition and others just starting out. The lists include national companies and some focusing on improving a single neighborhood. Readers will hear more from these developers in the July issue, which will report on industrywide trends identified by the survey.