As suggested by the name, this conference was filled with timely topics on affordable housing development and financing. The afternoon session was split into two tracks in order to address a wide variety of industry issues including the bond market outlook, year 15 deal strategies, and deferred developer fees.
Joining Ms. Flynann Janisse, Executive Director of Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation (Rainbow), on the panel was moderator Susan Wilson from Novogradac, Rolando Acosta of Ginsberg Jacobs, Ray Laundry of David-Penn Mortgage, and fellow repeat panelist Monica Sussman from Nixon Peabody. The panel’s title was “HUD Financing: What’s New” and was kicked off with a federal budget and legislative update from Monica Sussman. Ms. Janisse followed with comments on the importance of properly and fully utilizing the tools that HUD has given the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) industry to conduct business. Specifically, about the new pilot program, she said, “We need to preserve affordable housing and the LIHTC pilot program [as it] provides a new vehicle to test new ideas.”
Ms. Janisse’s preservation comments were echoed throughout the entire conference and in some cases were the focus of sessions. Panels titled “State Allocator’s Issues”, “Innovate and Creative Community Economic Development Project: A Case Study”, and “Debt Financing for Affordable Housing 2012” all stressed, not only the importance of preservation, but how nonprofits such as Rainbow play a critical role in this effort. In all of these sessions, attendees heard ideas and received guidance such as:
- Partnering with nonprofits is going to be a trend. The industry is going to see them become more active partners.
- Underwriters want social services providers involved in deals to help with marketability and sustainability.
- If developers chase points that only add cost, then they will see state agencies reject the proposal. Cost containment and responsible spending is key.
- The industry needs to do a better job framing the discussion, showing the cost savings by housing individuals and families in multifamily housing versus state-run institutions. This will shield the industry from having to combat political pressure for cost containment without sacrificing quality and livability.
In addition to these themes, presenters were quick to share resources for the LIHTC community. One tool of note is the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition which consists of a group of developers, syndicators, nonprofit groups, public agencies, and law firms assuring the continuance of the low-income housing tax credit programs. You can find more about the Coalition on their website.
Our thanks again to the entire Novogradac & Company team for including Rainbow in this year’s conference. All conference materials, attendee lists, and presentations are available online.