Buses traveling the streets of Chicago are delivering a pointed message: We need the people who need affordable housing.

The advertisements, which feature images of a firefighter, police officer and nurse, were placed on the city buses by Housing Illinois, a coalition of more than 40 organizations working to increase the supply and acceptance of affordable housing throughout the area.

The latest effort follows two television commercials that the group ran in 2005.

For more information, visit www.housingillinois.org.

Working families losing ground

The American dream of owning a home is slipping further out of reach for many, according to a new study of homeownership trends.

The Center for Housing Policy, the research affiliate of the nonprofit advocacy organization National Housing Conference, found that low- to moderate-income working families with children are less likely to be homeowners now than they were in the late 1970s.

In 2003, the homeownership rate for upper-income families with children was 90.8% while the rate for their low- to moderate-income counterparts was significantly lower at 59.6%. Yet in 1978 about 62.5% of poor and moderate-income working families with kids owned homes, reported the center in Locked Out: Keys to Homeownership Elude Many Working Families With Children.

The study also found that despite expanded efforts to boost homeownership by the last three White House administrations, the gap between white and minority working families with children worsened between 1978 and 2003.

In 2003, about 44.6% of minority working families with children owned homes. That’s virtually unchanged from 1978. The homeownership rate among their white counterparts increased over the same period from 68.7% to 70.5%. For more information, visit www.nhc.org.

On the other hand, there have been some recent success stories. Several innovative housing programs and projects are detailed in a separate report released by Homes for Working Families, the Urban Land Institute and the Fannie Mae Foundation. The highlighted projects include Noji Gardens in Seattle, which used modular construction to reduce expenses, and Marshall Parkway in Marshall, Minn., which is an example of employer-assisted housing. Schwan’s Food Co., the largest employer in the city, was involved in financing the affordable housing development.

Solving America’s Shortage of Homes Working Families Can Afford: Fifteen Success Stories can be found at www.homesforworkingfamilies.org. It was also available at www.knowledgeplex.org.

New portrait of LIHTC projects emerges

Low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) production averaged about 1,350 projects and 95,000 units annually between 1995 and 2003, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s updated LIHTC database.

Some other interesting findings:

• The average LIHTC project placed in service during the study period had 71 units.

• Nearly two-thirds of the LIHTC projects placed in service between 1995 and 2003 were new construction, according to the report prepared by Abt Associates, Inc.

• About 29% of LIHTC properties that opened during the study period had a nonprofit sponsor – almost three times as many as the program requires.

For more information, visit www.huduser.org.

Most dangerous cities named

Camden, N.J., ranked as the most dangerous city in the U.S. for the second consecutive year, according to Morgan Quitno Press, a Kansas-based publishing and research company.

The rankings were determined by 2004 statistics that were released near the end of last year.

Located across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Camden had the highest violent crime, murder and robbery rates among cities of 75,000 or more people. The next most dangerous cities were Detroit; St. Louis; Flint, Mich.; and Richmond, Va.

At the other end of the crime scale, Newton, Mass., was ranked the safest city. It was followed by Clarkstown, N.Y.; Amherst, N.Y.; Mission Viejo, Calif.; and Brick Township, N.J.

The rankings are based on murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft.


Nan Roman is one of the leading voices on the issue of homelessness.

She’s been president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness in Washington, D.C., since 1999. The nonprofit is a public education, advocacy and capacity-building organization with more than 5,000 nonprofit and public-sector member agencies.

Affordable Housing Finance recently caught up with Roman to find out what’s happening on the homelessness front.

Q What don’t people know about homelessness?

A Most people think that families make up a small percentage of the homeless population. Actually, over the course of a year about 50% of homeless people in America are members of homeless families.

Q Give us a statistic to think about. 

A A small group of chronically homeless individuals – about 10% - uses almost 50% of the system’s resources. Chronically homeless people – who are homeless often and for long periods of time – also are frequently hospitalized and even incarcerated, usually for minor infractions such as sleeping outdoors. As a result, we end up spending a lot of public dollars on them without ever solving their homelessness problem – in effect, we pay to keep them homeless. These individuals would be much better and cost-effectively served by permanent supportive housing.

Q Is there a new strategy in reducing homelessness that is working?

A Housing First is gaining momentum around the country and is ending homelessness for both single adults and families. Housing First means providing homeless people with permanent housing as quickly as possible, without lengthy interim stays in shelter and transitional housing, and providing services in that housing. It shortens the length of time that families and individuals spend homeless and helps prevent them from becoming homeless again.

Q What are your favorite cities with respect to homelessness?

A My favorites are places where local groups and governments have collaborated with the goal of ending homelessness and have achieved measurable success. San Francisco; Columbus, Ohio; Hennepin County/Minneapolis, Minn.; and New York City have all seen measurable decreases in the number of homeless people by following the principles of planning, prevention, and Housing First described in the Alliance’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness. 

Q What’s an important issue to watch this year? 

A The federal budget is a critical issue to watch every year. This year, the president requested an increase of $209 million for homeless assistance programs, and Congress should fund that request while restoring cuts to other housing programs in the president’s budget. It will also be important to monitor the housing status of hurricane survivors as the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s temporary housing assistance comes to an end.

Q How did you become involved in the homelessness issue?

A In the late ’70s and early ’80s. I worked on something we called residential displacement. The argument was that if we kept losing affordable housing stock to condominium and co-op conversion, urban renewal and disinvestment, eventually there would be widespread homelessness. People said we were dead wrong; this nation would never tolerate such a thing. Sadly, they were the ones who were wrong. My work on homelessness is an extension of that effort.  

Q What’s the last book you read? 

A Why New Orleans Matters by Tom Piazza – the author’s fresh impressions of his evacuation from and return to New Orleans, and reflections on the spirit of the city.

Q What’s one thing that everyone can do to help the homeless? 

A The solution to homelessness is housing. Individuals can help to end homelessness by supporting the creation and preservation of affordable housing in their communities and educating elected officials on the importance of affordable housing.

For more information, visit www.naeh.org.


“We don’t need soap opera watchers right now.”

– New Orleans City Council President Oliver Thomas taking a stand that only people who intend to work should be allowed back into the public housing that was emptied after Hurricane Katrina.

“PHAs (public housing authorities) are not doing what they should be doing to purge their rolls and getting families off the program. … I know the caliber of the people running the housing authorities, and they are not doing their job.”

– Alphonso Jackson, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), during a recent House Financial Services Committee hearing. HUD later said he was referring only to a select group of PHAs, but angry housing authority executives were protesting the comments.


Fannie Mae promotes Knight

Fannie Mae promoted Linda Knight to executive vice president for capital markets. She was previously senior vice president and treasurer.

“[Knight’s] new role in our organization will direct our focus on active management and accountability, as we take the necessary steps to build the Fannie Mae we want to become, one that is worthy of our public purpose – to serve affordable housing,” said Peter Niculescu, executive vice president for capital markets.

Fannie Mae also appointed four senior vice presidents to the capital markets team: David Benson, Ramon de Castro, Andrew Bon Salle and William Quinn.

CharterMac names new CEO

CharterMac, a real estate finance company specializing in multifamily, named Marc Schnitzer CEO. He is also a managing trustee of the company.

Schnitzer replaced Stephen Ross, who served as CEO since last year. Ross will continue to serve as chairman of CharterMac.

In the past 20 years, Schnitzer helped CharterMac raise more than $7 billion in equity from Fortune 500 companies for investment in tax credit properties.

RBC appoints Corradino

RBC Capital Markets, the corporate and investment banking arm of RBC Financial Group, appointed Sebastian Corradino as president of Apollo Housing Capital.

Apollo, a low-income housing tax credit syndicator, was completely acquired by RBC this year. RBC previously owned 80% of Apollo.

Before the appointment, Corradino was executive vice president in Apollo’s acquisitions group.

Hahn to lead LADP

Former Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn was appointed CEO of Los Angeles Development Partners, L.P. (LADP), a commingled real estate fund that will provide equity for the construction and redevelopment of various property types.

Hahn will focus on transit-oriented projects and affordable housing. LADP’s general partner is CS Capital Management, Inc., an affiliate of Chadwick, Saylor & Co., Inc. (CSC), a national real estate investment and banking firm.

Enochs joins Alexander & Edwards

Liz Enochs joined Alexander & Edwards Publishing, Inc., as a senior editor, where she will take on editing duties for both Affordable Housing Finance and Apartment Finance Today magazines. She also will be responsible for the tax-exempt bond coverage. She was previously a senior editor at Red Herring magazine in Belmont, Calif.

Enochs has been a journalist for 15 years, with eight of those in financial journalism, including stints as a municipal finance reporter for a newsletter owned by The Bond Buyer, a municipal finance newspaper, and at Bloomberg News as an economics and Federal Reserve reporter. She began her career in Zimbabwe, where she worked as a staff reporter for Horizon, an independent newsmagazine.