To build and preserve more affordable housing and boost their businesses, AHF 50 developers and owners have made key moves over the past year. Here’s a roundup of what several leading firms have been doing.
Avanath Capital Management
With a focus on affordable and workforce housing, Avanath, No. 31 on the owners list furthered its mission of enhancing properties, maintaining their affordability, and serving residents in 2022. It closed on $1 billion in new acquisitions with more than 3,000 units and completed the initial closing of the Avanath Affordable Housing Renaissance Fund. The firm also partnered with Laurel Street Residential to form LSA Management, which manages over 1,500 affordable units in the Southeast.
Chelsea Investment Corp.
In 2022, the California-based developer, No. 17 on the developers list and No. 43 on the owners list, increased the number of homes available for occupancy by 35% over 2021 and had over 1,100 homes under construction. One decision the company made in 2022 to save time and costs was to proceed with modular building solutions for certain developments. “This method of construction is increasingly being used to build residential projects, and our modeling has shown that, in certain circumstances, prefabricated modules are a logical choice in terms of cost and timely completion of construction,” noted the firm.
Atlanta-based Columbia Residential, No. 49 on the developers list, achieved several accomplishments in 2022. Most notable was the addition of president Carmen Chubb, who served as chief of staff for former Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and as a former deputy commissioner at Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The firm also formed an in-house construction services company, Trinity Construction Services, to act as a renovation general contractor and to house its construction management operations. This expands the developer’s capacity and allows it to do more fee-for-service work.
Fairstead tops the list of firms completing affordable housing acquisitions in 2022 with nearly 9,000 units in 99 properties. It also comes in at No. 8 on the AHF 50 owners list as well as No. 3 on the list of firms completing substantial rehabs last year with 2,245 units in 10 properties. Last year marked a year of growth for New York-based Fairstead, with a presence in 28 states, the opening of two new corporate offices, and the launch of a venture capital initiative.
Gorman & Co.
Gorman & Co., based in Oregon, Wisconsin, continues to expand its geographic reach. In 2022, the No. 9 developer opened a new office in Portland, Oregon, to advance its mission in the Pacific Northwest, with plans to develop projects in Northern California, Oregon, and southern Washington.
Also notable last year is the deal closing of Kenosha Uptown Lofts, a 71-unit, new-construction development, in its home state. The buildings Gorman purchased in Kenosha had been destroyed as a result of the civil unrest in summer 2020 after the Jacob Blake shooting. The project also will include a branch of the Kenosha Public Library and a minority-owned grocery store.
The Irvine, California-based nonprofit’s primary focus in 2022 was on permanent supportive housing, seeking to meet the increased demand in housing needs due to the pandemic. As part of its efforts, funding was specifically allocated for helping the homeless population transition into housing, and transition-age youth housing was incorporated into its portfolio. Jamboree, No. 50 on the developers list, also continued to develop family housing last year.
Lincoln Avenue Capital
Lincoln Avenue Capital makes its debut on the AHF 50 developers list this year at No. 22. In addition to expanding its portfolio to 119 properties across 22 states, the firm, No. 11 on the owners list, broke ground on its first ground-up affordable housing community—InterQuest Ridge in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
In collaboration with the city of Colorado Springs and the Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center, the 240-unit development will reserve 20 units for veterans and their families in a city with one of the highest populations of veterans in the nation. This is just the start of ground-up development for Lincoln Avenue Capital, which has 19 additional projects in the pipeline.
The highest nonprofit on the AHF 50 developers list this year at No. 15, Mercy Housing started eight affordable housing developments with over 900 units in 2022. The nonprofit, also No. 5 on the owners list, completed and leased up seven new communities to nearly 1,000 households.
Last year, to support its ability to purchase land for affordable housing development quickly, primarily with a focus on high-opportunity communities in California, Mercy Housing created the $47 million California Land Acquisition Fund.
The Michaels Organization
The Michaels Organization retains its spot as the nation’s top affordable housing owner, with over 49,000 units as of Jan. 1. It also ranks 29th on the developers list. Already in 2023 the firm has made additional strides in growing its portfolio. A joint venture involving The Michaels Organization, the Urban Investment Group within Goldman Sachs Asset Management, and the Community Development Trust acquired 90 affordable housing developments with over 10,000 units from Harmony Housing in a $1.2 billion deal.
National Church Residences
The Columbus, Ohio-based nonprofit, No. 9 on the top owners list, achieved major milestones in its hometown in 2022. It held grand openings for Northland Gate and Bretton Woods, its first two developments in Columbus in over a decade, and broke ground on Gates Junction and Salem Village; all four are senior housing communities.
Another big milestone for National Church Residences will be the retirement of president and CEO Mark Ricketts at the end of June. Susan DiMickele, who has been senior vice president of senior living and senior services at the nonprofit, has been selected to fill the role.
The affordable housing developer, No. 6 on the developers list and No. 38 on the owners list, continues to see growth, with a roughly 50% increase in the number of new construction starts in 2022. As part of its work, Pennrose has a strong record working with health care partners. Last year, the developer opened Kinder IV in Woodlyn, Pennsylvania, with Mercy LIFE and Delaware County Housing Authority and started construction on McAuley Station, which is being developed in partnership with Saint Joseph’s Health System–Mercy Care, in Atlanta.
Pivotal Housing Partners
With the mission in mind, managing partners Brian McGeady and Michael Reichman rebranded their firm in 2022—going from MVAH Partners to Pivotal Housing Partners, which ranks at No. 20 on the developers list and No. 47 on the owners list.
The change to Pivotal Housing Partners also helps to distinguish the firm, which initially spun out of the affordable housing assets of Miller-Valentine Group. However, there’s no longer any affiliation.
The affordable housing owner and developer established three diversified business lines in 2022 to build on its success of providing high-quality affordable multifamily housing. It ranks No. 20 on the owners list.
The acquisition and redevelopment division will focus on at-risk project-based Section 8 communities and other strategic low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) redevelopment opportunities. The new construction division will focus on building out a national 4% LIHTC platform, and the essential housing team will prioritize the creation and preservation of affordable and workforce communities without relying on new LIHTC syndication.
Vitus leads the affordable housing companies completing substantial rehabs in 2022, with 2,870 units in 26 properties. In 2023, it anticipates rehabbing another eight properties with over 500 units. The firm acquired 17 affordable housing properties with nearly 1,200 units last year, landing it at No. 24 on the AHF 50 owners list. It plans to amass another seven projects with over 700 units in 2023. “As early tax credit projects reach the end of their federal compliance period, continued investment in these properties is necessary to ensure they remain a vital part of the nation’s affordable housing inventory to provide for those in need,” said managing director Stephen Whyte.