WHEN ANDREA PAPANASTASSIOU was pursuing her undergraduate degrees in environmental studies and urban studies at Brown University in the early 1990s, she had an eye-opening experience while working on a research project in Providence, R.I., regarding lead-based paint in low-income communities.
She recognized the health and environmental issues of the paint on the residents, but also saw the social aspect of housing not being aff ordable and some landlords not caring about the residents. That sparked her passion and career in aff ordable housing. She went on to write her senior thesis on the impact of cooperative housing on members of the co-op community and then headed to Oakland, Calif., where she started at the Community & Economic Development Agency.
She earned her master's in urban planning at UCLA in 1998 and since then has worked for two of the San Francisco Bay Area's heavyweight nonprofit aff ordable housing developers—Eden Housing, Inc., and MidPen Housing Corp.
Since fall 2007, she has been the director of real estate development for Eden Housing, overseeing a pipeline of more than 1,800 units in 25 projects.
She talks passionately about past deals and current developments in the pipeline, laying out the sources and uses of financing off the top of her head.
Linda Mandolini, Eden Housing's executive director, calls Papanastassiou a “developer's developer” because she loves the deal side of the work.
“She's really tenacious,” Mandolini says. “The last couple of years have been really hard in the industry with a lot of deals chasing little financing. She has been so dogged in how to move our pipeline, how to get deals structured, how to get them fi- nanced, and they are starting to move. For me, she's incredibly valuable to us."
Papanastassiou was instrumental in Eden's acquisition and restructuring of two developments under construction in the Citizens Housing Corp. portfolio deal.
One of the projects, Fireside Apartments in Mill Valley, had completed construction after significant delays and cost increases, resulting in a more than $2 million financing gap. Mandolini says the project was so upside down that she didn't know how they were going to make it work. But Papanastassiou came back with a proposal.
“It was a true workout," Papanastassiou says. “It was really a testament of everyone wanting the project to survive and getting everyone around the table to agree. Everyone really stepped up and chipped in."
Even with all the deals Papanastassiou oversees, she has her eye to the future. “The world as we know it is shifting in California and nationally,” she says. “I want to be part of figuring out the next wave and the next model of how we deliver highend aff ordable housing in this industry."
She says Eden has some outstanding corporate goals, and with her experience and knowledge, she wants to figure out how to look at their systems and financing in a new and creative way.
Mandolini says Papanastassiou is the person to do it. “If anyone can figure out a new model, it will be her. I think she'll be at the front of that for us."
Papanastassiou also is active in the local housing policy community. She serves as co-president of Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County, a member of East Bay Housing Organizations, and a member of the Non-profit Housing Association of Northern California, in which she participates in policy issues, lobbying days, and meeting with local legislators.