On November 16th, 2020, Women in Housing and Finance’s New York Chapter (WHF) hosted a virtual fall panel on an important topic for 2020 – Moving towards Racial Equity and Inclusion in your Organization and Beyond. Moderated by Brittany S. Hale, the founder, CEO, and Chief Culture Architect of BND Consulting Group, the panel featured prominent women in the affordable housing and community development sector and discussed how each speaker approached racial equity and inclusion within her organization – both externally, as part of her organization’s mission, and internally, as part of her organization’s culture. Over 130 participants registered for the program.
WHF Board Members, Danielle Ash (Duval & Stachenfeld LLP) and Tatiana Gutierrez (Nixon Peabody LLP), introduced the program – the proceeds of which were donated to Project REAP, a national organization which aims to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in the commercial real estate industry by providing training, networking and mentorship opportunities to minority professionals. Following a brief few words from Project REAP’s Chief Program Officer, Osayamen Asemota-Bartholomew, Ms. Hale introduced the panelists: (i) Lori Chatman, Senior VP of Enterprise Community Investment Inc., (ii) Elizabeth M. Harris, General Counsel of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Economic Development Corporation (UMEZ), and (iii) Kerry McLean, Vice President of Community Development, Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco). Each panelist described her current programming and respective organizational role. More detailed biographies for Ms. Hale and each panelist are included in the recorded presentation.
On October 26th, Women in Housing and Finance New York held our first event of the year, a zoom lunch and learn on the progress of NYCHA 2.0, or PACT which stands for Permanent Affordability Commitment Together.
In a sentence, the talk covered the financial and structural innovations in the restoration of 62,000 New York City housing units, presented by speakers Lovaeta Amoako and Jennifer Hiser of NYCHA, and Hannah Blitzer of NYCHDC. In context, NYCHA was created in 1935 to provide decent affordable housing for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers. It encompasses 170,000 units across 302 developments, and if it were a city unto itself it would be larger than Atlanta or Miami.
Most of the units have components that have far outlived their lifespan, and federal funding covers only a fraction of the costs of repair and maintenance. The PACT innovation is repairing the units and creating permanent housing through conversion of the units into the Section 8 program.
The PACT plan utilizes several financing innovations and has so far sent out 8 RFPI’s (requests for proposals of interest) or rounds, for bundles of apartment renovations. Financing has included the issuing of bonds, and debt through the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA programs among other innovations. Tax credits are not applicable. There is a requirement of 25% plus MWBE participation in the awarding of renovation contracts.
The zoom conversation covered the concerns of residents that any rights or responsibilities would significantly change. Leases and protections are being strengthened. One of many programs embedded is permanent training and employment of residents in the ongoing care of their developments. Another is the building of credit through rent payment. The hour “zoomed” by with a bounty of practical and inspiring information and closed with some B-roll of three handsome completed projects at Baychester, Twin Parks West, and Betances.
DUE TO THE TIMES WE FIND OURSELVES IN OUR PROGRAMMING AND ACCOMPANYING PRESENTATION DECKS ARE BEING PROVIDED for the first time ever VIA RECORDING:
By Karen Heller, VP Communications, WHF-NY
The seasons are literally and figuratively changing before our eyes and under our feet. The recent loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an emotional one that reminds us of how far women's rights have come in just a short time. To think, women couldn't get a credit card in their own name not that long ago? The loss of RBG and the vacancy she leaves on the Supreme Court reminds us how fragile hard-fought wins are, and the need for organizations like WHF to protect and reinforce a strong network of support for women.
The passing of giants in the civil rights movement, like John Lewis and Rev. Cordy Tindell “CT” Vivian, shows us the importance of the next generation taking the torch and continuing our country’s movement towards social justice.
The seasons and the times are changing and this is our season, my fellow WHF members and friends. We must do all we can to carry the bright flame for women’s rights, racial equity, and social justice.
Women in Housing and Finance’s season is also changing with the start of the 2020-2021 events calendar year and our 40th Anniversary. It's a season to look forward and to look back: For us to honor WHF's strong history and think about how WHF prepares itself for the next 40 years!
Our affordable, newsworthy and educational events will start in October including a membership vote on changes to WHF's Bylaws and Certificate of Incorporation - members can click here to register for this important event on October 13th. We need your votes!
We also have a virtual Brownbag event and our Fall Panel discussing race, equity and diversity coming up soon. And we're planning a big event for next year to celebrate WHF's 40th anniversary, so stay tuned for that as well. A full calendar of what to look forward to will be posted to this site for reference.
Thank you all for being a vital part of what we are accomplishing.
Jen Trepinski, WHF President
At the Annual Members' meeting in Spring of 2020, the membership of Women in Housing and Finance voted on changes and additions to the Board with the Board slate below. WHF is pleased to add four fantastic new Board Directors who start their first term in the 2020-2021 calendar year.
New Board Directors:
- Danielle Ash, Duval & & Stachenfeld LLP
- Emily Chen, National Equity Fund
- Pam Razo, Bronx Pro
- Jennifer Steinberg, West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing (WSFSSH)
- Amy Chandra, Vice President, Membership
Re-election of Officers to 2nd term:
- Karen Heller, Vice President, Communications
Re-election of Board Directors to 2nd term:
- Liz Bieber
- Julie Gonzales
- Mar Granados
- Tatiana Gutierrez
- JaVonna James
- Akiko Kie-Aboagye
- Kristin Nelson
- Katie Vail
A few Board Directors have also termed off and stepped down this year. We are so grateful to you all for your years of service and look forward to seeing you at upcoming WHF events:
- Claire Hilger, WSFSSH
- Samantha Magistro, Bronx Pro
- Jessica Neilan, BNY Mellon
- Tatiana Pena, Trinity Financial
The annual Women in Housing and Finance (WHF) Fall Panel on Tuesday, November 12th featured a lively conversation among executive level leaders on the use of private funds in affordable housing development and restoration flowing from social impact investment initiatives.
The all-star panel included Nana Akowuah, Investment Analyst at Enterprise Community Investment, Ada Arevalo, the VP of Fund Management at Avanath Capital Management, Eleni Delimpaltadaki, Chief Capital Markets Officer at National Community Reinvestment, Leigh Roumila, CEO at Basis Multifamily Capital, and Sasima Pongfuengfu, Director, Portfolio Management at Jonathan Rose Companies.
One of the keys to the conversation was the definition of social impact investment. The origin of the investment movement was cited as the United Nations’ “ESG” framework and principles. ESG stands for Environment, Social and Governance investment, and takes into account these factors as well as the bottom line. How the investments are rated using ESG principles is specific to investor and advisor goals. It was also defined as funds that are not generated by the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program.
Each panelist works for an organization with specific thriving programs for interested investors. Panelists affirmed that there is strong institutional and family office interest in affordable housing funds and individual properties due to their risk adjusted return due to insulation from boom and bust real estate cycles. They also cited the ongoing shift in intergenerational wealth to women and to Millennials who are prioritizing ESG considerations.
The two-hour sold out panel discussion was moderated by Tatiana Gutierrez, Partner at Nixon Peabody, and held at Nixon Peabody’s new law office in midtown. It was also generously sponsored by Bronx Pro Group, and organized by WHF-NY Board members Emily Kurtz of RiseBoro, and Samantha Magistro of Bronx Pro Group.
Following the discussion, attendees had the opportunity to network with each other and with the executive level speakers.
What we've been up to this summer!
The 2018 WHF-NY Annual Summer Tour: Thursday, July 19, 2018. The skies were blue, the temperature warm and clear with a light breeze – perfect for touring the first completed buildings of the Essex Crossing project starting at 175 Delancey Street. WHF members and guests saw this property, The Rollins building, and a couple of impressive foundations from the Rollins rooftop, as well as a visual presentation from L & M Development Director Isaac Henerson and L & M Project Manager Jayda Shanks.
The tour was organized by WHF-NY Board Members MyPhuong Chung and Tatiana Pena and was sold out. MyPhoung was involved in the site both as an architect, and as a member of the Community Board. The Community Board had regular meetings with the developer and contributed to neighborhood success including keeping the footprint of the commercial offerings small in size.
Some cool facts: There are a total of 9 sites that make up the project. It includes one million feet of commercial real estate – both office and retail. There are 560 affordable and 530 market rent apartment homes. Of those affordable there is a mix of income requirements, and it includes 100 senior units. There are also market rate and subsidized apartments available for ownership. It is projected to cost a total of $1.5 billion and the full construction process, when finished, is expected to span a decade. L&M has received numerous accolades for bringing in and managing a host of partners and subcontractors.
Retailers who have signed on include Target, Regal Cinemas, and Trader Joe's. The commercial mix also includes NYU Langone, and ICP- the International School of Photography, which is moving its school and museum to Essex Crossing.
Some very New York history – the tenements that made up this area were demolished in 1967 and the empty lots languished for nearly five decades. Among those who have new homes in the project are 30 families that were displaced when the buildings came down.
The Summer Tour is an annual sold-out event, giving WHF members an intimate tour of newly built or recently completed projects. Past tours include the Cornell Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island, a scenic tour of the new Governor’s Island improvements, and a walking tour of several new developments in the new BAM Cultural District in Brooklyn.
At the May 22nd Annual Meeting, the WHF members present and those who provided votes via email in advance, elected the following:
New board members:
- Liz Bieber, NYS Homes and Community Renewal
- Julie Gonzalez, Joy Construction
- Mar Granados, IBI Group
- Tatiana Gutierrez, Nixon Peabody
- Javonna James, APEX
- Akiko Kyei-Aboagye, Urban Architectural Initiatives
- Kristin Nelson, Dattner Architects
- Katie Vail, New Jersey Community Capital
- VP Communications – Karen Heller, Houlihan Lawrence Commercial Group
- VP Membership (new officer position created this year by a vote of the Board) – MyPhuong Chung, SHoP Architects
Re-elected board members for a second term:
- Amy Chandra, Forsyth Street Advisors
- Joanna Kandel, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development
- Jessica Neilan, Enterprise Community Partners
- Neala Martin, CREA
- Tatiana Pena, Trinity Financial
This year a number of officers and board members stepped down. We appreciate their years of service and will miss them!
- Anne Carson Blair, Two Trees
- Elaine Braithwaite, L&M
- Ashley Dills, United Fund Advisors
- Karen Hu, Hudson Companies
- Clare Newman, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation
- Rose Tilley, RXR
Also note this year the Board voted to give Alison Novak, Principal at Hudson Companies and recent WHF Board President, the honorable title of Vice Chair of the board of WHF. Alison joins an esteemed list of past board presidents for her tremendous contributions and impact to the organization and her ongoing service to WHF.
WHF is now accepting nominations for board membership for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 fiscal years. Both self-nominations and nominations by another WHF member are acceptable. Please send all board nominations, including resume of nominee, either directly to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or a current board member for consideration. Elections will take place at our upcoming Annual Members’ Dinner on May 22nd. You do not need to be present at the dinner to be eligible for consideration, but it’s a lovely event so if you can, please attend. The WHF board will send out the slate of board nominees for review by Monday, May 7th.
Board member roles & responsibilities:
- Board membership terms are two years, with a maximum of two terms
- Board members have the opportunity to be elected to an officer position
- Board meeting attendance
- Event attendance
- Member recruitment
- Planning events (one “large” or series of “small”)
- Fundraising – our events typically have sponsors to help cover costs
- Staying current on membership dues
- Member in good standing
- Actively professionally engaged in the field of housing finance and/or development for at least two years
- Confirmation of eligibility by a current board member