RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA.—The name National Community Renaissance (National CORE) may not be that familiar, but the people behind it are.
The organization was formed in 2006 when Southern California Housing and National Housing Development Corp. joined forces to create one large nonprofit. As a result, the new company owns more than 8,400 affordable housing units, with assets valued at close to $1 billion, and it is eager to do more. That places National CORE among the Top 10 owners and Top 20 developers of affordable housing, according to Affordable Housing Finance’s national survey.
The merger of the two housing development firms made perfect sense, according to CEO Jeffrey Burum, a homebuilder who founded SoCal Housing in 1992 and National Housing in 1999. SoCal Housing was starting to think about expanding beyond its traditional geographic boundaries, and National Housing had contacts across the country. Burum was a common denominator in both organizations, as were several board members.
Rebecca F. Clark, who was leading SoCal Housing, continues on as president of National CORE. While Burum brings his private homebuilder experience to the company, Clark provides an important governmental perspective, having worked in local governments in California, including the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission.
They have instituted market-rate business principles in a nonprofit setting, according to Burum. For example, National CORE has negotiated lines of credit with national lenders in advance, so it can move on deals quickly. The organization, which has 315 employees, also manages all of its properties and can serve as its own contractor on projects.
“The more fees we can keep in-house, the more deals we can do and the more low-income families we can aid,” Burum said.
The organization’s Heritage Pointe property in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., which was developed by SoCal Housing in 1996, is the first affordable housing development in the country to be built completely in-house by a nonprofit.
“We are deploying everything we can utilize,” Burum said. “We didn’t want to be driven project-by-project. We wanted to create enough cash flow to sustain ourselves into the future.”
In 2006, the firm delivered its first two new-construction inclusionary housing developments, the 114-unit Melrose Villas in San Marcos, Calif., and the 124-unit Vista Terraza in north San Diego. The company also started construction on a $37 million neighborhood revitalization project in Rialto, Calif., and secured its first federal Sec. 202 grant for an 85-unit seniors housing complex in Montclair, Calif.
Overall, the firm started five new low-income housing tax credit or tax-exempt bond deals with 498 units in 2006. It also completed six acquisitions last year.
National CORE will do even more in 2007, with expectations of growing by 1,000 or more units in 2007 through both new construction and acquisitions.
The organization has a national scope, but Southern California will continue to be a key market, and the firm is looking at deals in Texas and Florida.
“We’re just getting started,” Burum said.