Linc Housing’s president and chief operating officer Suny Lay Chang (left) and CEO Rebecca Clark.
Lisa Beth Anderson Linc Housing’s president and chief operating officer Suny Lay Chang (left) and CEO Rebecca Clark.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, nonprofit Linc Housing, based in Long Beach, California, continues to expand its reach and further its mission: to build communities and strengthen neighborhoods for people underserved by the marketplace.

The organization started in 1984 as the Corporate Fund for Housing, working in partnership with established developers and not doing its own deals. That direction shifted in the mid-2000s when it sold five properties and the board suggested building its own development capacity.

Suny Lay Chang, president and chief operating officer, joined Linc in 2007 and was responsible for implementing a growth strategy. Since then, Linc’s work and team has expanded, sending the nonprofit on an upward trajectory that has led to it becoming one of the region’s most productive and recognized developers.

Fast-forward just over 15 years, and Linc this year will mark 10,000 units that it has developed in 96 locations across California. In 2023, it opened 379 homes and started construction on 379 more, ranking No. 47 on the AHF 50 developers list. Linc’s pipeline is robust with plans to start 614 more homes this year.

However, the nonprofit goes beyond just providing housing.

“In addition to the real estate side, we have really grown our Intensive Case Management Services because our permanent supportive housing has grown exponentially,” says CEO Rebecca Clark, who took the helm of Linc in 2014.

The Intensive Case Management Services program began in 2019 as a pilot, and more properties have been added each year. All of its permanent supportive housing developments are now served by Linc employees, except for one, which is set to be picked up this year. According to the nonprofit, it has a 97% retention rate after one year for residents who live in these properties.

Linc also looks to have a deeper impact in the communities it serves.

“We consider the real estate to be a community resource regardless of where the property is located,” says Chang. “And, we take that approach through how we partner with existing organizations and how we connect into the community.”

At many of its properties, it creates ground-floor community facilities, such as food banks, child care centers, and workforce spaces, that are not just for residents but also for the local neighborhood population.

Linc has embarked on its 2024 to 2027 strategic plan and expects to continue its growth trajectory with help from some new innovations.

This year, it is seeking to apply to become a Community Development Financial Institution as a way to continue to increase its access to capital for itself as well as to create an additional business line. It also is preparing to get its own bond rating in the next year or so.

“We are really trying to evaluate capital opportunities and how to unlock existing resources that are new us,” says Chang. “Having those tools in our toolkit is important for us to be able to see how much we can leverage in order then to develop more.”

In addition, Linc is getting ready to take on its first modular development in downtown Los Angeles.

“We are constantly looking at ways to bend the cost curve,” Clark says, adding that she believes the industry is at a tipping point when it comes to modular. “There are well-capitalized modular companies out there now that are delivering amazing product, and the quality is incredible.”

Going forward, she says Linc has made a commitment that each future development will be evaluated to see if it makes sense to go modular.

“It’s really important to keep that innovation gene,” Clark explains. “We need to keep the edge to drive and innovate in a changing financing environment.”