Two longtime developers who’ve built thousands of affordable homes, a woman who’s advocated for on behalf of federally subsidized housing, and a big city mayor who grew up in public housing. They’ve been difference makers in the world. For their lasting contributions, they are being inducted into Affordable Housing Finance’s Hall of Fame.
Jane Graf saw a need for affordable housing for people with intellectual disabilities and did something about it. She started a nonprofit and began developing the needed homes in Oregon. Graf eventually joined Mercy Housing, heading up the organization’s California division, where she led the development of innovative communities across the state. For the past five years, she’s been president and CEO of the entire Mercy Housing organization, one of the nation’s largest owners and most active developers of affordable housing.
As mayor of San Francisco, Ed Lee wasn’t afraid of housing issues. He grew up in public housing in Seattle and became a civil rights attorney. As mayor, he championed a number of bold initiatives, including efforts to rebuild distressed public housing projects and the passage of a $310 million general obligation bond for housing. He died in 2017, but his impact continues.
Denise Muha has been executive director of the National Leased Housing Association (NLHA) for more than three decades, working on national housing policy and advocating for programs on Capitol Hill. Muha and the NLHA have been key players in the development of landmark housing legislation that addressed the preservation of more than 1.5 million affordable housing units under Section 8 as well as legislation to facilitate the continued preservation of the Low Income Housing Preservation and Resident Homeownership Act portfolio.
Walter Webdale has led the Arlington, Va.-based AHC, a nonprofit that provides affordable housing throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, for the past 20 years. During his time at AHC, he has helped to expand the nonprofit’s affordable multifamily portfolio from 1,600 units at 13 properties to 8,000 at nearly 60 properties today. Before joining AHC, he served as the first director of the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development in Virginia for 25 years.
The 2019 honorees will be inducted into the Affordable Housing Hall of Fame at AHF Live, Nov. 18-20, in Chicago.