After nearly 25 years with the National Housing Trust (NHT), Michael Bodaken is stepping down as president.

Michael Bodaken
Rudy Matthews Michael Bodaken

Since joining the organization in 1993, he has led NHT’s growth into a major affordable housing organization. The national nonprofit is unique in its focus on housing preservation through public policy advocacy, real estate development, and lending.

“I was fortunate that this job came up because it suited my nature and skills and interests,” Bodaken says, noting that few organizations combine policy and practice like NHT has done over the years.

The National Housing Trust Enterprise Preservation Corp., a joint endeavor of NHT and Enterprise Community Partners, has preserved and improved 47 communities, comprising nearly 7,000 affordable homes in 14 states and Washington, D.C.

On the lending side, NHT has also made loans to help preserve 11,500 affordable apartments, and the organization is a policy leader in affordable housing and energy efficiency.

Under Bodaken’s leadership, the Trust won the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative & Effective Institutions in 2014.

“Michael is a long-standing visionary in the affordable housing field. His contributions have spanned decades, and his commitment to the cause of economic equity and justice are unwavering,” says Nancy O. Andrews, president and CEO of the Low Income Investment Fund. “He will be sorely missed but has always believed his job was to build and then pass the torch to others.”

Bodaken is irreplaceable, adds Eileen Fitzgerald, president and CEO of Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future.

“His deep commitment to affordable housing preservation, equity and sustainability is unparalleled,” she says. “Michael is such a creative thinker—always finding new approaches to increase preservation opportunities while also caring about residents. Michael has demonstrated tremendous leadership in sustainability, energy efficiency and green building. His policy and financing leadership has had such a positive impact across our entire field.”

Once a one-man shop, NHT has grown to 30 core staff members and about 80 property managers and resident services partners.

“I’m going to miss the daily back and forth of working among really smart people all the time,” Bodaken says. “I’m going to miss that … I love what I do.”

He hopes to find something new that will provide the same satisfaction in three key ways—doing good, working with smart people, and having fun.

Bodaken avoids the word “retiring” because he plans to remain active, including working on Energy Efficiency for All, a collaboration of NHT, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Energy Foundation that’s dedicated to tapping the benefits of energy efficiency for millions of low-income families.

He’s also interested in teaching and taking time to travel.

Prior to joining the Trust, Bodaken served as a deputy mayor in Los Angeles from 1989 to 1992. He also practiced public interest law for more than a decade, specializing in class action homeless litigation and tenants’ rights. He practiced at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley Neighborhood Legal Services. Bodaken was inducted in Affordable Housing Finance’s Hall of Fame in 2012.

He will likely leave NHT in the spring, but the timing will depend on the hiring of a new executive and the transition period.

“I’m very satisfied that now’s the right time,” he says. “Given the growth of the Trust since I’ve been here and the platform that we’ve created, I’m confident whoever succeeds me will take it to the next level.”

Editor's note: This version corrects an earlier mistake. Sara Johnson was NHT's first executive director, and Marilyn Melkonian was founder.