Our members were asked to provide their insight and expertise on emerging trends for the upcoming new year in the affordable housing industry. They shared their knowledge on the topics of sustainability and green management, managing a mixed-finance property and what they see as the biggest trends for 2018.
Below are their abbreviated responses. For the full response, please click on the provided link.
The questions they were asked:
- What are the emerging trends in sustainability and green management?
- What are the secrets to success in managing a mixed-finance property?
- Look into your crystal ball, what will be the biggest trend in the affordable housing industry for 2018?
What are the emerging trends in sustainability and green management?
CSI Support & Development, Nancy Evans, SHCM, NAHP-e, general manager
Like other property managers, we made a big push several years ago to retrofit our properties with energy efficient systems. With staff turnover and the passing of time, we became concerned that we were not utilizing these systems properly. Our next step is to analyze their proper use, establish and document standards, and train staff to ensure we maintain these standards. We see this as the next trend in sustainability. … (Click here to read more)
Community Housing Partners Corporation, Scott Reithel, NAHP-e, CGPM, vice president. Kim Strahm, CHP communication partner, also contributed to this answer: One trend Community Housing Partners Corporation (CHP) is embracing and has implemented is the creation of green maintenance policies and procedures, which are clear, cohesive and easily accessible. We are doing so through the development and implementation of a web-based operations and maintenance portal. Once fully implemented, content will be delivered via a user-friendly, multimedia format, which is regularly updated and frequently utilized by staff. … (Click here to read more)
Community Housing Services, Phil Carroll, SHCM, NAHP-e, president: The key is a systematic continual rehab and upgrading of the property and its systems. LED lighting conversions and Energy Star upgrades should be in process or completed. Whether funded from operations or reserves everyone needs to be focused on the capital needs of the property and have knowledge of the plan. … (Click here to read more)
Northwest Real Estate Capital Corporation (NWRECC), Noel Gill, NAHP-e, SHCM, CPO, executive vice president: Some emerging trends in the west are going to solar energy and steel framing; these will help reduce job site waste and can be recycled. These opportunities can be further enhanced by partnering with modular builders. Landscape design that incorporates local indigenous plants and trees with the elimination of large lawns can dramatically reduce water consumption. Water cistern collection can also be used for toilet water to further reduce water and sewer bills. … (Click here to read more)
The Michaels Organization, Mark Morgan, chief operation officer: I do not believe the expectations of substantial savings in operating costs have been fully realized with many of the energy-saving “innovations” due to the complexity and maintenance requirements of many. I see a movement toward the less sexy but tried and true measures that have proven effective. Things like solar water preheaters, LED lighting, high-efficiency HVAC equipment and dual/low flush toilets and low flow aerators have proven over time to be money savers and easily maintained at affordable rent levels. … (Click here to read more)
Vesta Corporation, Chuck Moran, NAHP-e, executive vice president: Current emerging trends include installing vinyl flooring and getting away from carpet, and utilizing stormwater runoff for irrigation. Roof gardens are a great solution to developing “wasted” space. Most importantly, they can provide temperature control, but also food, ecological benefit for wildlife, and enhance the appearance of your community. Electric cars are far more affordable today than a decade ago. … Bike sharing racks on-site, along with ride-sharing pickup locations that easily allow drivers to find their customers, are seen as amenities to residents and contribute to our commitment to “green living”; with little financial or burdensome impact on our operations. … (Click here to read more)
Wallick Communities, Rowe Shockley, SHCM, NAHP-e, CGPM, senior vice president: When you think about affordable housing, you’re most likely not thinking about a state-of-the-art green design that appeals to people of all incomes. However, next generation developments are combating the negative image that surrounds affordable housing with high-quality designs that are healthy for both residents and the planet. As the world of sustainable business continues to mature, one emerging trend is to utilize more durable, environmentally friendly materials such as vinyl plank flooring, LED lighting and programmable thermostats. … (Click here to read more)
WinnDevelopment, Darien Crimmin, vice president of energy and sustainability: The affordable housing industry continues to embrace energy efficiency and sustainability best practices, including LEED, EnergyStar and Enterprise Green Communities certifications. Retrofitting inefficient systems is business as usual, LED lighting is now commonplace, and the industry’s adoption of utility benchmarking software makes it easier to track performance and prove savings. … (Click here to read more)
What are the secrets to success in managing a mixed-finance property?
||CSI Support & Development, Nancy Evans, SHCM, NAHP-e, general manager: The keys to success in managing a mixed-finance property are clear documentation of expectations and excellent communication. Clear expectations and documentation are critical because each source of financing will hold management to specific requirements and goals. … (Click here to read more)
Alco Management, Inc., Michael Johnson, SHCM, NAHP-e, executive vice president: Know your programs. It is important not for just the compliance department to know the applicable programs for a mixed-use financed property, but for the site staff to also know and understand the various programs. Communicate. You must be able to communicate the eligibility requirements to your applicants and residents. Understand your target market. Not only must you understand your target market, but you must direct your advertising to that market. Training. Site and compliance employees must understand the programs. A handoff bible from development should include all of the pertinent information regarding the financing and program requirements that the site needs to operate the property in compliance. … (Click here to read more)
LHP Management, Susan C. Howell, SHCM, senior vice president: Mixed-finance deals are difficult to piece together and challenging to manage. Early, comprehensive communication, adequate training, regular monitoring and staff collaboration may not be a secret formula, but can be an effective formula for success for managing mixed-finance properties. … (Click here to read more)
McCormack Baron Management Services, Timothy Zaleski, SHCM, NAHP-e, president: Successful management of mixed-income developments requires a management strategy that acknowledges the unique challenges facing the neighborhood and its residents. Managing mixed-income communities requires strong property management skills, knowledge of market conditions, and an understanding of public programs. Most importantly, we believe that all residents must be treated equally and with respect. Our staff understands the complexities of managing mixed-income housing, possesses the technical expertise to handle multilayered compliance issues, and offers the personal touch needed to work with residents of diverse backgrounds. We also manage our residential developments to market-rate standards, and work with residents and the larger community to address the nonhousing needs and issues that exist in the community. . … (Click here to read more)
S K Management Company, LLC, Christopher White, NAHP-e, executive director: We are currently managing seven COMBO projects. In all cases, we have established a mass recertification date where we do both the Section 8 and tax credit recertifications at the same time. This makes it much easier on the resident but does stress the on-site staff given all the required work. It would be easier if we could use EIV for the tax credit program, which makes a lot of sense but just does not seem to be getting the necessary approval. Usually keeping two sets of books gets one a free pass to prison, but not for HUD and the IRS COMBO projects. … (Click here to read more)
Seldin Company, Alicia Stoermer Clark, SHCM, chief executive officer/president: The industry is leaning heavily to mixed financing with both new construction and renovation/rehab work of existing sites. The ability to successfully manage these properties rests on a few key items: communication, organization and recognition. The properties are under tremendous regulatory oversight immediately so working with the ownership representative, syndicator/investor, and key management personnel early on is vital. Understanding the commitments made, timeline and impact in order to establish from the first day the appropriate procedures/policies and training. … (Click here to read more)
Solari Enterprises, Inc., Gianna Solari Richards, SHCM, NAHP-e, president: Take your time to read and understand each regulatory agreement and related documents. Create a format that easily captures compliance requirements and information. Using a software system is an added bonus, however keep in mind the software is only as good as the person who entered (and understood) the data. Do not rely on your memory, document, document, document. … (Click here to read more)
TELACU Residential Management, Inc., Jasmine Borrego, NAHP-e, CPO, president: Diversity: Mixed-finance properties bring low-income and higher-income households to live together in one building. Allocation of Units: Having various income levels of units supports communities with retail development and plays a critical part to ongoing processes of neighborhood change and gentrification. Proximity of Units: Having various set-aside units in a building all being designated as floating units allows households from various socioeconomic backgrounds to interact with each other. … (Click here to read more)
WinnResidential, Katrina Pavetto, FHC, senior director of compliance: One key to success in managing properties with multiple layers of financing is ensuring depth of knowledge in operations, specifically around the various requirements of each program, and how these requirements play into, or against, each other to ensure the correct rules are applied to each household. Site-level employees, from leasing consultants through property managers, need a full understanding of the practical application of each program, including not only which income limits and maximum allowable rents to use, but also the various inspection, audit and reporting requirements, as well as how to keep a property in compliance when a household goes over income. The supervisory team of senior or regional managers also should be well versed in the programs applicable to each property in their portfolio to resolve any issues as quickly and efficiently as possible. … (Click here to read more)
What will be the biggest trend in the affordable housing industry?
The Caleb Group, David Joyner, NAHP-e, director: …The biggest issue that we see impacting affordable housing presently is uncertainty in Washington and in particular, uncertainty around what is happening with tax reform. With the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program being the main vehicle for the production and preservation of affordable housing, what happens with tax reform will have a material impact. Presently, investors are waiting to see how tax rates will be changed, which will affect how they buy tax credits. In this period of uncertainty, credit pricing has been conservative resulting in lower proceeds for housing unit production and preservation, which in turn causes funding gaps that have to be filled in some form. What we see impacted primarily is the 4 percent preservation transactions; it’s more challenging to refinance and rehabilitate existing properties in need of larger scale capital improvements to preserve this housing. … (Click here to read more)
||CSI Support & Development, Nancy Evans, SHCM, NAHP-e, general manager: We anticipate several trends for 2018. With the continued and increased threat of funding cuts, developers will be forced to build with less funds. This means smaller unit size and less community space. We also expect to see more development in place-based sites where residents can walk to shopping and services are easily accessed. We expect to see the need for affordable housing for seniors to increase significantly with an increased focus on service-enriched housing to allow residents to age in place. We also anticipate that communities will increase their dependence on housing to solve social and economic issues that are not actually related to housing, such as the charging of impact fees or requiring the addition of public parking spaces. … (Click here to read more)
Dominium, Inc., Jack Sipes, senior vice president: Incredibly, that 2018 will continue in the same vein as 2017. We believe that access to and pricing of debt, investor interest and access to capital, and overall conditions will keep the remarkable housing run alive. Even if there is tax reform (we doubt anything meaningful gets done this year), we believe that some reform is already anticipated and accounted for and that the overall market health will absorb the changes and continue to operate at a high level. The best apartment market of our lifetimes continues into 2018. … (Click here to read more)
Boyd Management, Inc., Barbara (Babbie) Jaco, CPO, CPM, vice president: In 2018, we are hopeful to see repetitive, time-consuming regulations and requirements cut out from programs and for various agencies to work together to assist in simplification. We already received requests to submit our recommendations and this is a great sign of good things to come from an administration that wants to cut unnecessary work. … (Click here to read more)
Federation Housing, Inc., Eric Naftulin, NAHP-e, executive vice president: My crystal ball tells me that the biggest trend in affordable housing will be owners/management companies focusing on "Preservation." With all the uncertainty coming out the White House and with proposed cutbacks in funding across all affordable programs, federal and state—preservation is the only means of survival. So many existing management companies and developers are opting out of affordable housing all together or they are hunkering down and protecting their affordable assets as a means of survival. I am proud that the board of Federation Housing, Inc. sees the downward trend and has taken action across its portfolio to ensure that future generations will be able to benefit from affordable housing, which appears to be under almost constant attack. … (Click here to read more)
Park Properties Management Company, Alice Fletcher, CGPM, senior vice president: I predict that the affordable housing industry will start to provide enhanced training and retention opportunities to attract and keep talent that mirror the opportunities afforded by STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) industries. Because more schools have begun to focus on preparing students for STEM jobs, I predict that the skills gap will increase between general knowledge hands-on skilled workers and those educated and trained for STEM jobs. To bridge this gap, our industry will begin to see a greater shift in the traditional onboarding and training of talent happen in 2018. We will see more apprentice programs and partnerships to build workforce-training programs. I predict a need for greater emphasis on promoting careers in our industry to students as young as high school in order to solve the impeding skills crisis. … (Click here to read more)
PRD Management, Inc., James McGrath, SHCM, NAHP-e, chairman of the board: … Managers are "aging in place" along with their tenants. Therefore, "generational retirements" will put pressure on management firms for hiring and training new managers in the complexities of affordable housing. This will not be an easy task and puts new emphasis on the value of the AHMA’s and other training organizations to help these management firms meet their training needs. … (Click here to read more)
Wesley Housing Corporation of Memphis, Jim Nasso, NAHP-e, president & CEO: Finding creative finance options and operating procedures that drop operating expenses to allow for fewer or no subsidies but still be able to offer rents in the affordable range. Additionally figuring ways to deliver more services to residents without more funding. I would add that the creativity of financing options are going to require more partners that can work together under the tax credit programs, otherwise, developers will be disincentivized to enter into deals. … (Click here to read more)
WinnCompanies, William Wollinger, SHCM, NAHP-e, chief operating officer: Housing built for mixed-income residents is occupying a great deal of our attention. In addition to adding market-rate residents into an affordable community, many municipalities and regulatory entities are looking to house the workforce or middle-income residents who earn good salaries but are being priced out of the ownership and rental markets. The definition of workforce housing is quite broad and often is designed to meet specific local needs, since area median incomes differ by region. Because this user group is not program regulated, some level of eligibility requirements need to be defined and parameters need to be clearly agreed upon. This often results in certain residences being occupied by people who earn more income than the various affordable programs and not enough income to meet market-rent requirements. … (Click here to read more)