Michael Novogradac is one of the affordable housing industry’s top authorities. For more than 25 years, his accounting and advisory firm, Novogradac & Co., has worked with developers, syndicators, investors, and others involved in low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs). The housing program was a specialty, along with historic and energy tax credits, that caught Novogradac’s interest early on in his career.

“It was always an area that I looked at and said, ‘I can do well by doing good,’ ” he says. “I wanted to do both. I wanted a good career but to do it in a way that was helping others.”Although the LIHTC began as a short-term program with an uncertain future, Novogradac committed himself to becoming an expert, a move that would shape the rest of his career.

After working at the Arthur Andersen firm, he launched his own, San Francisco–based company, which would go on to focus on the housing credit and other community development initiatives.

The new firm began on one of the most indelible days—
Oct. 17, 1989—the day the Loma Prieta earthquake hit the area. After starting with just three people, the company has grown to 600 members in 24 offices.

Novogradac’s reach, however, extends far beyond his office walls. The academically inclined Novogradac brings a scholarly approach to the industry. He’s a key conduit of information about LIHTCs and other housing programs.

He’s the author of numerous articles and books, including his firm’s hefty Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Handbook, one of the first authoritative textbooks on the program. It first came out in 1990 and continues to be updated annually. Novogradac & Co. also produces manuals on the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC), LIHTC property management, and other key industry topics.

Since 2007, Novogradac has hosted a weekly podcast during which he updates listeners on legislation and explains technical changes to housing programs in an understandable way.

While Novogradac has established a major company specializing in community development tax incentives and his seminars help educate the industry, his biggest achievement may be his legislative advocacy on behalf of the LIHTC program, according to Rick Goldstein, a partner in the Nixon Peabody law firm.

Novogradac, 56, has been a strong presence on Capitol Hill, regularly visiting lawmakers to talk about how the housing program works and its value in local communities.

“Mike has established long-standing and deep relationships with many members of Congress, and they trust the advice that Mike gives them on issues affecting the housing credit,” says Goldstein.

In addition, Novogradac is involved in a number of industry organizations, including serving on the boards of the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition, the NMTC Coalition, and the Historic Tax Credit Coalition.

“The real achievement is all the affordable housing units that have gotten built or rehabilitated, all the community development projects that have been completed, all the historic properties that have been renovated and preserved, and all the renewable-energy developments that have been put in place,” says Novogradac.