THE NATIONAL HOUSING WAGE has grown to $15.78 an hour, reported the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) in its annual Out of Reach report. That’s more than three times the $5.15 federal minimum wage.

The housing wage is the hourly wage needed for someone to pay for a modest two-bedroom home and not spend more than 30% of income on rent.

The housing wage is up from $15.37 in 2004.

For the first time, the study found that there is no place in the country where a full-time minimum-wage worker can afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent (FMR).

The gap between what people earn and the cost of housing has severe consequences for low-income families, said Sheila Crowley, NLIHC president, explaining that when keeping a roof over your head becomes the top priority, people have to skimp elsewhere.

Crowley predicts that there will be more health-related problems this winter because many people will not be able to afford heat or electricity. Other consequences include families moving in together, with people living in garages and basements. “At the end of the day, they may end up in a shelter,” she said.

San Francisco, where the housing wage for a two-bedroom apartment is $29.54, is the nation’s most expensive city for renters.

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N.O. cops among homeless

EMBATTLED NEW ORLEANS police officers face another problem – housing.

A huge segment of the city’s police force, close to 80%, lost their homes when Hurricane Katrina swept through the city, confirmed Henri Wolbrette, chairman of the New Orleans Police Foundation.

Preliminary results of a survey found that approximately 700 officers were living on cruise ships that had been brought in to provide temporary housing, he said, adding that a few even reported living in cars.

Wolbrette said another aspect of the problem is that the vast majority of the officers’ families are living out of town, so they seldom see their loved ones.

The lack of housing raises big concerns that officers will leave the force to relocate. One move that the city has taken to ease the situation is to suspend for three years a requirement that officers live in Orleans Parish, according to Wolbrette. He said a large bond issue is also planned, with some of the money being committed to police officers.

Development site featured in movie

PEOPLE WHO HAVE seen the movie Rent got a good look at the site of a future mixed-use project in west Oakland, Calif.

Filmmakers used the Central Station location for a number of scenes in the movie musical, including an elaborate tango dream sequence, according to nonprofit developer Bridge Housing.

BUILD (Bridge Urban Infill Land Development), an affiliate of Bridge Housing, plans to develop a large residential and commercial project on the site. The redevelopment of an old train station is part of the plans.

BUILD partners negotiated to have local residents hired for the film shoot.


Carrington joins Reznick

Edwina Carrington will leave the top post at the Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs (TDHCA) to join the Reznick Group in April as a principal in its national affordable housing finance group. She will help establish and lead its first southwestern office in Austin, Texas, slated to open in early 2006.

At Reznick, Carrington will serve clients in a real estate advisory capacity with a special focus on transaction consulting in the affordable housing industry.

Since 2002, Carrington has served as executive director of TDHCA, where she oversees the administration of more than $500 million annually for affordable housing and community services.

She helped develop the state’s first qualified allocation plan and rules for the then-new low-income housing tax credit program.

In other news, Jonette Hahn was promoted to principal at Reznick’s National Affordable Housing Practice. She has been with the firm since 1996.

FHLBank of Pittsburgh elects Price

James Roy has retired as president and CEO from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, and will be succeeded by John Price.

Since 2001, Price had been senior adviser to the Institute of International Finance in Washington, D.C. During the Nixon administration, he succeeded Daniel Patrick Moynihan as special assistant to the president for urban affairs, working on welfare, health insurance and urban development.

Schneeman leads Greystone DUS

Greystone Servicing Corp., Inc., hired Sharon Schneeman as chief financial officer for its Fannie Mae Delegated Underwriting and Servicing platform.

Prior to joining the firm, she was director of agency servicing for Wachovia Bank, NA. She has 19 years of experience in the fields of real estate finance, accounting and servicing.

Tawa to head MMA Financial’s Affordable Debt Group

Christopher Tawa, former managing director in MMA Financial’s Affordable Debt Group in its Washington, D.C., office, has been promoted to senior vice president and head of the group. In his new role, Tawa will oversee all affordable debt origination at the company, including private placement bonds, agency-enhanced bonds, and construction and permanent financing for 9% low-income housing tax credit transactions.

Alex Viorst, former loan officer with Bank of America Community Development Bank in Washington, D.C., has joined MMA Financial in its D.C. office as managing director and lead debt originator in the mid-Atlantic and northeastern states, and in New York City and Chicago.

Keith Gloeckl, Mike Tozzi and Becker Bass, formerly based in MMA Financial’s Tampa, Fla., office, have left the company.

Prudential names new principal

Prudential Mortgage Capital Co. chose Jeffrey Allshouse to lead its Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-lending unit as a principal. He will oversee FHA commercial mortgage loan originations for Prudential Huntoon Paige’s southern region.

Before joining the firm, he was vice president of originations for Centennial Mortgage, Inc., in Atlanta. He has more than 20 years of experience in commercial real estate, including agency lending and bond and tax credit financing.


Bob Moss has the pulse of the affordable housing industry.

Senior vice president and director of origination at Boston Capital, a low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) syndicator, he’s one of the most active people in the field, serving on numerous industry boards and participating in countless events.

Affordable Housing Finance recently touched base with Moss.

Q How did you get into the housing biz?

A I started as a property manager in Portland, Maine, in 1985 and learned the biz from Joe Wishcamper, one of the greatest developers in affordable housing, and one of the smartest.

Q As someone who works in the tax credit market, what do see as the biggest challenge for the industry in 2006?

A Available land for multifamily development and land costs, construction costs and operating costs. All of these are a major concern for developers.

Q Share an innovative move that helped you on a recent deal.

A Helping a developer educate a community that was distrustful of a proposed LIHTC deal, showing our portfolio makeup and who the prospective residents would be; you have to add value to build and grow a relationship.

Q A cool touch at a recent development you financed?

A There are many instances of this – in all of our deals. The allocating agencies have done a great job of ensuring that the resulting housing is more than bricks and sticks. An example of this is deals we have done with The Sterling Group – Lance and Larry Swank – who have after-school latchkey programs for kids. I could go on and on and name many developers – NRP Group, Jim Silverwood, Noel Khalil, etc.

Q What do you do when you are not working?

A My day usually starts at 5 a.m. and ends at 10 p.m. I am working a lot, but once a year I take off to fly fish one of the most beautiful ponds in Maine for three to four days. Spending time with my daughter Abigail is my favorite thing to do.

Q If you were hosting a dinner party and could invite anyone, who would be on the guest list and why?

A Bob Dole and Robin Williams. It could be seriously funny.

Q What’s in store for your company in 2006?

A We continue to experience steady growth and have expanded both our core (LIHTC) business as well as our other growing multifamily divisions, including market-rate housing. I am concerned about tax-reform measures and possible negative effects on our business – we all should be concerned and ready to act.

Least affordable states

Housing wage for two-bedroom FMR in 10 states

Hawaii   $22.30

California    $22.09

Massachusetts    $21.88

New Jersey    $20.87

New York    $19.73

Maryland    $19.62

Connecticut    $19.30

Rhode Island    $18.42

New Hampshire    $17.58

Alaska    $17.40

Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition


“HUD has been missing in action from the moment the hurricanes struck the Gulf Coast, and by refusing to participate in a Congressional oversight hearing, HUD is compounding incompetence with arrogance.”

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., in December after Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Alphonso Jackson did not attend a subcommittee hearing.


“There was a genuine misunderstanding circulating that somehow this department refused to appear last Thursday and that there might be a need to coerce an appearance and testimony. That simply was not the case; we were trying to coordinate and finalize a date when we could testify. ... HUD has been working very closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to get housing assistance to those who have been displaced and uprooted by these hurricanes.”

HUD’s Brian Montgomery, Federal Housing Commissioner, appearing at a hearing about a week later.

Sierra Club reaches out to developers

Environmentalists and developers are usually about as compatible as cats and dogs. A move by the Sierra Club, however, may begin to change that relationship.

The Sierra Club, the nation’s largest environmental organization, has released a report called Building Better: A Guide To America’s Best New Development Projects. In the report, a dozen projects are cited for their good design.

They include the Fruitvale Transit Village developed by the Unity Council, a nonprofit that turned a giant parking lot in Oakland, Calif., into a mixed-use, transit-oriented development that includes affordable housing. Another is in Milwaukee, where the housing authority replaced old public housing with a new environmentally friendly project.

“We’re often known for opposing development,” said Eric Olson, director of Sierra Club’s Healthy Communities Campaign. “We feel there are definitely bad developments that contribute to sprawl, but we also support quality mixed-used infill development that contributes to more vibrant communities. We wanted to highlight that. We wanted to highlight what some developers are doing to do the right thing by reinvesting in our urban areas and older suburbs.”

Almost all of the projects cited, he said, have an affordable or moderately priced housing component.

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