When Jared Cummer went to graduate school at the University of Delaware, he took an internship with the Wilmington Housing Authority after having previously worked in the for-profit real estate development arena. However, the Canadian native at the time didn’t know anything about affordable housing in the U.S.
“I learned a lot about the Department of Housing and Urban Development and affordable housing,” the 37-year-old says. “I have always been interested in real estate, and this was a good way to use that in a more community-driven approach. I knew I wanted to stay in the affordable housing realm.”
Cummer served at the Wilmington Housing Authority for five years, going from an intern to development associate, focusing on capital planning for the agency’s public housing inventory.
He and his wife made the move to Seattle in 2015, where he continued his public housing journey, joining the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) as an asset management program manager.
In that role, Cummer is credited with championing interdepartmental efforts as well as his technical expertise in planning and structuring some of the agency’s largest 4% low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) rehab programs. He since has become the director of asset management and finance, working on two of the agency’s largest bond issuances as well as supporting the financial structuring and closing of LIHTC-financed new construction developments related to the massive Yesler Terrace redevelopment.
“I like understanding what all the regulations and rules are and figuring out the most efficient ways to do the work and make sure we are doing it in the right way,” he says.
He also sees his department as the critical support provider for those working closely with the residents SHA serves. “Asset management is not a front-line department in the delivery of housing and the service of residents. We’re a support department,” he says. “While our customer is ultimately the extremely low- and low-income people in Seattle, it’s our housing operations group and maintenance that are the front line with the residents, and we’re there to support them, make their jobs easier, and provide expertise.”
Cummer has witnessed firsthand the impact his behind-the-scenes work has.
“I see affordable housing as an opportunity to help people stay in neighborhoods they could otherwise not afford to live in if left up to market forces, Seattle being one of these cities. The rapid income growth caused largely by tech in Seattle has led to a significant increase in housing costs, pushing people just making below the median income outside of the city,” he says. “People making minimum wage don’t have much hope finding housing in our city unless there are more affordable housing options. Housing to me is really an opportunity to help redistribute wealth and income to support those in our community who cannot afford it.”
When Cummer isn’t at work, he says you can find him fixing things around his house as well as fly-fishing.