Lindsey Haines joined Chicago-based Full Circle Communities right out of graduate school in 2011 as a project analyst. Haines hit the ground running, securing the nonprofit’s first 9% housing tax credit award in 2012. Since then, she has helped grow Full Circle’s pipeline, expertise, and team. She became senior vice president of real estate development in 2021, adding interdepartmental coordination with property management and resident services to her development oversight. Haines now leads a 12-person development team and has participated in the development or preservation of nearly 1,700 units in over 20 affordable housing properties.
Key contributions: "I think growing the organization but not for the sake of growth. We have increased the number of units, but each additional project that we build is even more intentional and even more mission-driven. We are adding units, but really in a purposeful way. As we gain expertise, we are pushing ourselves to use brand-new programs, resources that have never been used, or financing a commercial piece that benefits the community. It’s a dual thing between adding more affordable housing and being more creative and intentional in doing that."
Favorite project: "I have a favorite project type. We work in partnership on almost every development that we build. Part of our mission is to provide supportive services for our tenants—sometimes that means developing permanent supportive housing or doing family or senior housing with ancillary services. For me, it’s about partnering with another nonprofit and trying to convert their dream and their vision of what they oftentimes have been trying to do for five to 10 years, and make it actually happen. They can be the organization that is holding the mission and on the ground serving clients, and we can take the complicated real estate/tax credit piece off the table and let them focus on the things that they are good at. They take a long time, but those projects have always been really rewarding to me."
Most rewarding part of being in the industry: "I think it’s being able to deliver the tangible thing that is at the center of folks’ lives. I really like being involved in changing the built environment and creating that place that people call home."
Skill set: "At Full Circle, we have taken on a lot of difficult NIMBY battles. Though it can be a contentious space and I don’t always like being up on the stage in a public meeting, it is something that I’ve developed a skill set around. I’m proud to work at an organization that doesn’t shy away from a fight. I’m trying to teach some of our other staff about how you take that public comment and listen where you can but also recognize when people aren’t being constructive."
Advice for those entering the industry: "It’s important for folks new to the industry to understand the context in which they are working. There’s a long legacy of inequity in housing policy and creation in the United States, especially in cities like Chicago. You need to understand that backdrop in order to be thoughtful and mindful about what you’re doing and why."
Boards: Northwest Side Housing Center’s Community Development Corp.
Family: Her husband and two dogs.