Affordable housing pioneer Herbert Collins has died at the age of 89.

Herbert Collins
Herbert Collins

Collins had been an instrumental figure in the affordable housing industry over many decades, co-founding Boston Capital with Jack Manning in 1974 and playing a key role in the creation of the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) during the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Collins, Manning, and other industry leaders also established the Housing Advisory Group (HAG) in 1993 to educate lawmakers about the housing tax credit.

“If not for Herb, I can comfortably say none of you would be here today,” David Gasson, vice president at Boston Capital and executive director of HAG, told attendees at the AHF Live Forum in Las Vegas. “We would not have an industry today without Herb being one of the leading architects of the LIHTC.”

Collins became involved in policy advocacy during the Reagan administration when the Office of Management and Budget proposed eliminating the Sec. 515 rural housing loan program, an active space for Boston Capital at the time. As the first leader of the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing, he worked to keep the program alive.

When Sens. Bob Dole and Bob Packwood began discussing ideas to rewrite the tax code, Collins, who had been an active member of the Republican Party, advocated for affordable housing.

“My whole approach was to be a resource for the Reagan administration and Congress,” he told Affordable Housing Finance in 2006. “[The leaders in Congress] did not fully appreciate or understand what attracted investors to affordable housing. I said we needed something to attract investors and suggested that the best way was still through the tax code.

Collins was among the inaugural group of AHF’s Affordable Housing Hall of Fame inductees in 2006 to celebrate the exemplary leadership at the beginning of the LIHTC program.