TCA March 2023

March 2023 | Volume XXXV No. 3

P U B L I S H E D I N A S S O C I A T I O N W I T H T H E N A T I O N A L H O U S I N G & R E H A B I L I T A T I O N A S S O C I A T I O N

Cultivating Resident-Centered Communities


Amenities with an Impact A Lifeline for Mark-to-Market Properties Engaging Multifamily Owners

Flat 9 at Whittier, Boston, MA


Tax Credit Advisor | March 2023

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M A R C H 2 0 2 3

Also in this issue: 24 CASE STUDY:

Resident-Centered Housing 6 David A. Smith: The Guru Is In Home is where you choose 10 A Critical Need for Resident Services Building community while addressing stability by Pamela Martineau 14 A Common Goal Robust resident services are key to cohesive communities by Abram Mamet 18 Breaking Ground Chris Jones, CEO, Housing Opportunities Unlimited by Darryl Hicks

The Upper Post Flats of Minneapolis, MN Veterans given housing preference at historic Minnesota fort by Mark Fogarty

26 Funding for Green Upgrades and Preservation Engaging multifamily owners by Ravi Malhotra

Columns 3 Blueprint for March

Teamwork makes the dream work by Jessica Hoefer 4 Kaitlyn Snyder: Industry Insights Biden-Harris administration actions to protect renters misses the mark on supply 8 Legally Speaking A new rent increase opportunity will provide relief to mark-to-market portfolio by Nathanial Cushman and Richard Michael Price

CASE STUDY: Massachusetts Projects Cultivate Resident-Centered Communities Great resident services a must for

all managers by Mark Fogarty

Monthly Features 2 Story Architects 27 CohnReznick


Evolving market dynamics shine a light on resident services and amenities

28 NH&RA News 29 Member News 30 State Roundup 31 Bulletins

Flat 9 has a long roster of resident services.

News from Washington, DC and beyond


Tax Credit Advisor | March 2023

Tax Credit Advisor

Story Architects Nathaniel Cushman ( Legally Speaking , p. 8) is a partner in Nixon Peabody’s Affordable Housing & Real Estate group. He works with affordable housing clients across the country on regulatory and transactional matters involving multifamily affordable housing acquisition, ownership, development, financing, rehabilitation and preservation. Mark Fogarty ( Case Study: Massachusetts Projects Cultivate Resident-Centered Communities, p. 21, and Case Study: The Upper Post Flats of Minneapolis, MN, p. 24) has covered housing and mortgages for over 35 years. A former editor at National Mortgage News , he has written extensively about tax credits. He has also had pieces published in the Chicago Tribune and Miami Herald , among others. Darryl Hicks ( Breaking Ground, p.18) is the vice president, communications for the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association and a 22-year veteran of associations managed by Dworbell, Inc., the management company of NH&RA. Ravi Malhotra ( Funding for Green Upgrades and Preservation , p. 26) has 34 years of experience as a social entrepreneur and engineer. He has led award-winning R&D efforts and has success fully launched eight new social ventures. For the past 20 years, Ravi has been focused on providing turn-key solutions for the green retrofit of multifamily properties through ICAST, a leading national nonprofit that manages clean energy upgrades for multi family housing, including beneficial electrification and healthy home upgrades, and Triple Bottom Line Foundation, a CDFI that provides energy financing for affordable housing.

Abram Mamet ( A Common Goal, p. 14) is a freelance writer based in Washington, DC, whose work focuses primarily on the social histories of the community. He currently works as the assistant editor for CapitalBop . His other writing can be found there, as well as Solitary Watch and Truthout . Pamela Martineau ( A Critical Need for Resident Services, p. 10) is a freelance writer based in Portland, ME. She writes primarily about housing, local government, technology and education. She holds a BA in English from UC Berkeley and a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine. Richard Michael Price ( Legally Speaking , p. 8) is a partner in Nixon Peabody’s Affordable Housing & Real Estate group. He focuses on real estate finance and regulation, affordable and rural housing and community development, government contracts, administrative law and legislation. He assists for-profit and nonprofit businesses and government agencies. David A. Smith ( The Guru Is In , p. 6) is chairman of Recap Real Estate Advisors, a Boston-based real estate services firm that optimizes the value of clients’ financial assets in multifamily residential properties, particularly affordable housing. He also writes Recap’s free electronic periodical State of the Market, available by emailing Kaitlyn Snyder ( Industry Insights , p. 4) is managing director of National Housing & Rehabilitation Association. In addition to overseeing the policy work, Snyder manages the day-to-day operations of the association, coordinates the various councils and organizes event programming.


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B L U E P R I N T F OR MA R CH By Jessica Hoefer

Tax Credit Advisor March 2023 Vol. XXXV No. 3 ISSN 2324-6111

Publisher: Peter Bell NH&RA Managing Director: Kaitlyn Snyder Editor-in-Chief: Jessica Hoefer 202-939-1796 • Contributors: Darryl Hicks Mark Fogarty Nushin Huq Abram Mamet Pamela Martineau Advertising: Natalie Matter Bellis 717-580-8184 Copyright 2023 by Dworbell, Inc. Photocopying or other reproduction of any part of this publication without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. Subscriptions are $329 per year. Special rates are available for community-based nonprofit groups; call 202-939-1790.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

F or decades now, “it takes a village” has been part of the American vernacular. The complete phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” likely emanated from an African proverb meaning that the entire community must interact with the children for them to grow in a safe and healthy environment. However, some scholars believe it comes from Native Americans. Though its exact origins remain elusive, academics correctly point out that the proverb embodies the communal spirit of several African and Native American societies. While the original meaning is self-explanatory, these days its connotation is broader in scope, referring to many a situation where additional teamwork and support are warranted. Still, as an industry, we could learn something from the original proverb and the communal societies it derives from. It’s the idea that resident services and community amenities are needed to create and grow communities that support residents. Communities don’t come about by accident. They require commitment and teamwork. Builders/developers must be deliberate about incorporating services and amenities that generate a communal feeling by providing quality resources critical to healthy and equitable communities. Case in point. The Guru Is In , p. 6, and A Critical Need for Resident Services , p. 10, are reminders that while services and amenities are key to residents’ well-being, realistically those services cannot be provided if first housing is not built. It’s the act of addressing current needs while providing services that forges properties into communities. A Common Goal , (p. 14), cites a recent 2022 report finding that many organi zations rely on third-party providers to deliver resident services. Effectively creating its own village. One such provider includes relocation services, which we learn more about from Chris Jones, CEO of Housing Opportunities Unlimited, in Breaking Ground , p. 18. And in Case Study: Massachusetts Projects Cultivate Resident-Centered Commu nities , (p. 21), two projects by different developers strive for an ongoing connection between residents and services beyond the usual care programs. Current programs and amenities include calming aesthetics, food and trauma programs, vaccination clinics, computer training, access to technology, communal spaces and more. For these developers, it’s all about building stable housing, creating opportunities and providing a supportive community for residents. As Ellie Fanning, executive director of Portfolio Resident Services, says in A Common Goal , “…Where we’ve seen silos in the past…, we are now coming together as a more comprehensive, open-armed group and community to have these discussions about what we are going to do to fix it.” So, for those who ascribe to the, “it takes a village” model, it’s not just about developing housing. Rather the whole village (property owners, operators and service providers) must work together towards a common goal – safe and healthy housing. After all, that’s the affordable housing industry’s esprit de corps.

Address correspondence to: Circulation 1400 16th Street, NW, Suite 420 Washington, DC 20036 Tel 202-939-1790, Fax 202-265-4435 Editorial office at same address as above.

Editorial Advisory Board Dudley Benoit Alliant Capital

Scott Hoekman Enterprise Housing Credit Investments

Merrill Hoopengardner National Trust Community Investment Corp.

Allison King Tiber Hudson Heather Olson Berkadia

Andrea Ponsor Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future

Mark Shelburne Novogradac & Company LLP

Armand Tiberio CBRE Affordable Housing

Stockton Williams National Council of State Housing Agencies

Advertise Your Business! Tax Credit Advisor accepts advertising. For information or to place an order, contact Natalie Matter Bellis, Account Executive, 717-580-8184,

Regards, Jessica Hoefer Editor-in-Chief


Tax Credit Advisor | March 2023

KAITLYN SNYDER: Industry Insights

Biden-Harris Administration Actions to Protect Renters Misses the Mark on Supply

I n late January, after months of a two-track engagement process with tenant groups calling for nationwide rent control and industry groups calling for supply-side solutions, the Biden-Harris administration issued a press release, 1 Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights 2 and Resident Centered Housing Challenge. The blueprint references the Housing Supply Action Plan 3 and the shortfall of affordable housing but stops short of calling for increased supply to moderate rent increases.

The blueprint describes federal actions around five guiding renter protections: Safe, Quality, Accessible and Affordable Housing; Clear and Fair Leases; Education, Enforcement and Enhance ment of Renter Rights; The Right to Organize; and Eviction Prevention, Diversion and Relief. The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced it will identify the opportunities and chal lenges of adopting and enforcing tenant protections, including policies that limit egregious rent increases at properties with Enterprise-backed mortgages going forward. The blueprint cites a “17.2 percent increase in average rents that occurred in just one year between February 2021 and 2022,” according to Zillow. 4 Moratoriums on rent increases during the pandemic (be they government or company-imposed) play a big part in that 17.2 percent increase. After two years of not raising rents, the other shoe was bound to eventually drop in the form of a big one-time increase. Owners are also making up for the bad debt they accrued during the pandemic from not being able to evict for non-payment of rent. But the biggest factor of that 17.2 percent increase is inflation. Readers of this publication know all too well that the costs of developing and operating housing have gone up across the board impacting everything from building materials and labor to insurance and the cost of capital. Nuance is important here. Affordable housing rents are already restricted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as state housing finance agencies. National Housing & Rehabilitation Association will participate in the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s stakeholder process as it considers policies that limit rent increases at properties with Enterprise-backed mortgages going forward to ensure that any new policies consider the existing rent increase restrictions of affordable housing. Properties backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be subject to a 30-day notice to vacate for non-payment of rent and FHFA will publish an Enterprise Look-Up Tool. HUD will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking requiring that Public Housing Agencies and owners of project-based rental assistance properties provide no less than 30-day notice of lease termination due to nonpayment of rent. The blueprint also recommends local governments take the following actions: immediately seal eviction filings and only unseal them in the case of a decision against the tenant, provide right to counsel in eviction proceedings and prohibit the source of income discrimination. The Resident-Centered Housing Challenge highlights early commitments to enhance existing policies and develop new ones that promote fairness and transparency in the rental market. Those wishing to participate in the challenge should complete the Resident-Centered Housing Challenge survey 5 by April 28. NH&RA has been actively engaging with the Biden-Harris administration on these issues and will continue to do so as the outlined federal actions make their way through the regulatory process. If you’d like to be engaged in this work, please email to be added to the distribution list. Kaitlyn Snyder

1 2 3 4 5

4 Tax Credit Advisor | March 2023


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DAVID A. SMITH: The Guru is In

Home is Where You Choose A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. – George Carlin, “Stuff” 1 T hough the fear has receded, the disruption the pandemic wrought continues to roll through the built urban environment. While malls are dead, ing work styles that youngsters had embraced for years, led to employers’ sudden grudging acceptance of hy

parking’s gone touchless, offices are having an identity crisis, and all of them are envying multifamily. Suddenly fashionable, rental is reconfiguring its campus, its property, and its units, in a race to adapt to the post-pandemic, hybrid-work, hybrid-socialization lifestyle brought by ubiquitous broadband. People are spending more time at home and doing more things at home . Not so long ago, ‘amenities’ meant either design-mag finishes (granite countertops and use less dust-magnet ceiling fans before them) or public-space activities. Some large-ticket items (swimming pools, tennis courts), though seldom used and yet expensive to maintain, became de rigueur just ‘to keep up with the competition.’ Post-COVID, says Brett Pelletier of Kirk & Company, “People want amenities with big experiential impact. If you spend the majority of your waking hours in your apartment, it needs to be a place you enjoy being in.” If you didn’t have so much stuff, you wouldn’t need a house. Many households now expect to be renters for a decade or more. For Boomers, buying a home announced adulthood and ‘starting a family,’ and proved their best savings investment. Rental was an inferior tenure of necessity, preferably of short duration – something to be endured on the way to a brighter future. Yet the perpetually rising home prices that fueled Boomer wealth, NIMBY ism and smugness, proved unsustainable. The subprime debacle (itself a byproduct of national mania to own a home, any home) and its consequent multiyear national real estate hangover soured the following generations on home buying. With marriage and children often deferred, rental became not merely a way station but an open-ended mode of living. You start to get used to it, because, after all, you do have some of your stuff with you. In a more recent irony, the indisputable fact that work-from-home proved manageable during lockdowns, and the embarrassing reality of oldsters clumsily adopt

brid to remote work. Once this genie was out of the bottle, the apartment could be the workstation.

David A. Smith

It needed amenities, and that in turn is upending our notions of rental layouts. As Brett Pelletier puts it, “Sec ondary or tertiary markets where no product has been delivered in 30 years are seeing new deliveries fly off the shelves because the existing supply is antiquated: terrible layout for digital living, big inefficient layouts and no ame nities that anyone uses these days.” Now apartments need the digital accoutrements of hybrid work: fast reliable internet, a room that’s readily con figurable for a laptop docking station and a camera, with a professional or Instagrammable physical background and a door that closes for reasonable soundproof privacy. Low entry or exit cost is now also a tenure amenity. For empty nesters, an annual lease is often better than buying a second home. Brett Pelletier spotted this: “I just completed an assignment in Fort Myers where a developer is building luxury apartments,” he reported, “and underwrit ing half of the apartments for seniors, some of whom are working (remote) and summering ‘back home’ up north.” Greater flexibility, no down payment, no need to sell the highly appreciated home up north, and establish a second, smaller nest. That financial flexibility amenity makes sense. That’s all you need in life, a little place for your stuff. Amenities can be private, or they can be social, and people want both. Physical distancing under duress has permanently changed how we socialize. Much more than three years ago, we appreciate the appeal of co-occupying a working place with others whom we see casually but regularly. Not only is when and with whom now a conscious

1 5:15 of brilliance. 2 If your company hasn’t developed corporate communications etiquette among email, text, Slack and Zoom—topics, lingo and argot, communications frequency, response urgency—you’re heading for intra-company discord.

6 Tax Credit Advisor | March 2023

choice, but we also choose our socialization modality. 2 To bring the coffee shop onsite for casual neighborly hybrid weekday work, the next big innovation in multifamily amenity space will convert clubhouses or community rooms into a business or learning centers—printer, small meeting rooms with big screens and great video con ferencing, private booths for video conferences without headphones—supplemented by nearby munchies. Did you ever notice when you go to somebody else’s house, you never quite feel a hundred percent at home? You know why? No room for your stuff. Because everyone wants different amenities, configure public spaces as ‘amenity courts.’ People like to wander and choose – grocery stores, coffee shops, food courts, theaters and flea markets, all offer mentally absorbing strolls in casual proximity to others. The very diversity of items on offer, choices large and small, creates a natural opportunity for making connections of affinity. Pelletier offers an impressive list: “Roof deck with city views, open-air amphitheater,

24-hour fitness center, outdoor lounges with fire pits, grilling and al fresco dining, pet friendly, landscaped courtyards with outdoor seating, 24-hour package room, social spaces with complimentary Wi-Fi, community kitchen and dining, co-working spaces, game room, ButterflyMX intercom system, controlled access parking garage, groom room and bike storage. That’s market rate, of course, so the budget appetite is higher than in afford able product, but it’s not too far off.” Only the stuff you know you’re gonna need. Money, keys, comb, wallet, lighter, hanky, pen, smokes and change. The perception of choice is more important than the use of choice. To live happily, we need to believe that we are secure and that we have a choice. Choice also means variety and newness, so rotate the resident activi ties, the use of outdoor space and the vents. Freshness is an amenity too.

Well, only the stuff you hope you’re gonna need.


Tax Credit Advisor | March 2023

Legally Speaking

A New Rent Increase Opportunity will Provide Relief to Mark-to-Market Portfolio By Nathanial Cushman and Richard Michael Price T here is a subset of affordable housing multifamily apartment complexes referred to as Mark-to-Market (M2M). The defining feature of these properties is

quarter of both had rents below market and pro ceeded through Full M2M pro cessing. Projects at the time with

significant federal mortgage and rental assistance with strict financial limitations. These limitations have caused financial problems at many of the more than 2,000 apart ment complexes that went through full M2M mortgage and rent restructuring. The Biden administration has supported a solution to this problem, which was enacted into law, as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 (2023 Act). The 2023 Act was signed into law

Nathanial Cushman

Richard Michael Price

rents at or slightly above market could renew as a M2M “Lite” and likely would not have the same limitations as a project processed as a Full M2M. Also, there were several rounds of demonstration programs that could be subject

on December 30 and funds the govern ment for the balance of the 2023 federal fiscal year. This is a lifeline for many M2M properties that have significant physical and operational needs, and until now did not have a financially viable method to address those needs. M2M Program Background The M2M program was authorized in the Multifamily Assisted Housing Reform and Affordability Act of 1997 (MAHRA). To participate in the M2M program, a property would have both a Federal Housing Administration-insured loan and a project-based Section 8 Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Contract with above-market rents. A so-called “Full” restructuring involves both: (1) a renewal of the project’s HAP Contract, with rents reduced to market rents as determined within the M2M pro gram guidelines; and (2) restructuring of

to variations of these requirements. In a Full restructuring, the owner is obligated to enter into a 30-year Use Agreement with HUD (in some cases this Use Agreement could be up to 50 years), during which time annual rent increases on HAP contract units have been limited to increases only by the Operating Cost Adjustment Factor (OCAF). In many rental markets, these OCAF adjustments have not kept pace with market rents, and in many cases operating costs have accelerated faster than the M2M underwriting projections made at the time of restructuring. In many cases, these increased costs have outpaced project rents and strained or even exceeded project reserves. HUD published the Final Rule gov erning Mark-to-Market restructurings in March of 2000. Most Full M2M refinancing transactions date from the early 2000s. This means that most of the projects in the

The 2023 Act amends MAHRA to create a new Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments Contract renewal path for M2M properties. Rents on these HAP Contracts may be increased up to the lesser of a rent based on a budget of project needs or a rent equal to comparable unassisted market rent.

the project’s FHA-insured debt through an FHA-insured refinance loan and Department of Housing and Urban Development-held subordinate debt to allow. Interestingly, when the MAHRA statute was enacted, the presumption was about 10,000 such apartment complexes had rents above market. However, as those properties were processed many had rents below market, and many more had rents about equal to market. Only about a

portfolio subject to M2M Use Agreements were restruc tured 15 to 20 years ago and have rent increases limited to OCAF increases during that time. The best way to think about the M2M program is as a forced workout program—the owner did not default but MAHRA authorized HUD to act as if the project would default, as a way to reduce the Section 8 budget outlays for HUD, thereby saving the taxpayer money. As such,

8 Tax Credit Advisor | March 2023

and the National Leased Housing Association—have advocated for Congress to give HUD this critical tool to address these widespread needs. New Federal Legislation The 2023 Act amends MAHRA to create a new Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments Contract renewal path for M2M properties. Rents on these HAP contracts may be increased up to the lesser of a rent based on a budget of project needs or a rent equal to comparable unassisted market rent. The owner must demonstrate to HUD’s satisfaction either that income is insufficient to operate and maintain the project, or that the owner will take out new debt to fund necessary rehabilitation. The 2023 Act limits the opportunity for rent increases to once every ten years. Many M2M properties have approx imately ten or fewer years left on their initial 30-year M2M commitment, and those projects therefore will only benefit from this renewal option once. Owners and purchasers should be careful to maximize the benefit to the property

M2M was a rent and debt restructuring program, and not a rehabilitation program. There is no minimum requirement for a scope of rehabilitation work at a Full M2M restructuring closing, and most projects did not go through substantial rehabilitation at the time of the closing. The M2M underwriting process was intended to establish significant reserves and future annual reserve deposits for the next 20+ years, based on costs and pro jections at that time. Those initial projects often proved to be different from the actual needs of properties that arose over time. Many existing M2M projects entered the program as aging properties and still have not had a substantial rehab in decades. The HUD regulations allowed for increased rents through a budget-based approach, but HUD has not allowed that approach, going so far as to propose amending the regulations to remove the budget-based option in 2020. As a result, there are hundreds of properties with significant physical and operational needs across the existing portfolio. Two affordable housing trade associa tions—the Institute for Responsible Housing Preservation

Legally Speaking , continued on page 32


Tax Credit Advisor | March 2023

Re s i dent -Cente red Hous ing

A Critical Need for Resident Services Building Community While Addressing Stability By Pamela Martineau A t affordable housing communities across the nation, residents receive more than a safe place to live; they are provided resident services ranging pressure checks, vaccines and other screenings. At a community in Philadelphia, RSCs partnered with the Phil adelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. The school conducted a study on the Mediterranean Diet, bringing its students into senior communities to teach residents about the diet and healthy food choices. “Students are coming into our Park Towers site to

from wellness nurse visits to financial literacy courses to job search skills. The services are often as varied as the residents themselves. Tax Credit Advisor spoke with two leaders in resident services to learn best practices in the field, as well as how the delivery of services is changing. Both Washina Ford, vice president of resident services and community engage ment at Beacon Communities, LLC, and David Nargang, president of McCormack Baron Management, say that providing a broad range of services to residents in afford able communities is more critical now than ever. “These services are greatly needed,” says Nargang. “Having these services well-funded and available is vitally important to the success of our communities. Our commu nities are gauged by how well we provide services in order for our folks to thrive.” From Blood Pressure Checks to Cooking Classes The range of services offered at affordable housing communities is munity is unique. The core of our work revolves around housing stabilization and making sure our residents are stably housed.” Ford says ensuring stability requires looking at and addressing the barriers to stability. Barriers can be a lack of access to stable employment, food, technology or educa tion. In a senior community, it can be issues around health and wellness. Ford says her company’s resident services coordinators (RSCs) may work with partners in communi ties to address these issues, but Beacon employees often provide many services themselves. At many of Beacon’s senior-focused communities, nurses come in and conduct wellness clinics, providing blood Washina Ford broad and depends largely on the mix of residents, say Nargang and Ford. “It is no cookie-cutter approach,” Ford says of how Beacon determines which services to offer. “Each com

educate residents around healthy choices so they actually know how to make a meal and shop. It builds their con fidence,” says Ford. “Food security across the board is something we are looking at at all of our sites.” Beacon’s Ocean Shores community in Massachusetts did a New Year’s program around goal setting that focused seniors on making choices to get active and out of their apartments. The session also helped seniors look for volunteer opportunities. “Our goal is to make our seniors lively, more active and get out and about,” she says. Nargang says McCormack Baron

will often hold meetings with incom ing residents and neighbors to query them on what type of services should be provided. “In most instances, we are redevel oping in areas where residents come

David Nargang

back,” he says. “We also poll community leaders and public partners on what they want to see (offered). It depends on the needs of the area. There is never a one size fits all.” “When we go into the initial development stage, we bring everybody to the table, including service providers, to make sure we have adequate space and amenities to accommodate the services,” Nargang says. Nargang says that the residents’ needs can be finan cial planning, services for children, wellness checks for seniors, supportive services around COVID, and especially rent relief, which has become a vexing problem since the pandemic. “Over the last couple of years, we’ve interfaced with local governments, as well as state and federal agencies, to work so the rent needs are met in terms of our residents,” Nargang says.

10 Tax Credit Advisor | March 2023

Some affordable communities are tailored for people with special needs, Nargang adds. “We are one of the more aware providers of affordable housing regarding individuals with special needs. We have various tailored programs. In DC, we have North Capitol Commons for homeless veterans,” he says. McCormack Baron works with third-party partners to provide services through the Veterans Administration to make sure residents receive veterans’ benefits. In St. Louis, McCormack Baron operates a uniquely designed project for disabled residents. “Every unit is disabled accessible,” says Nargang. “We have other developers who come to visit the community to look at the design.” Different Models of Service Delivery Beacon and McCormack Baron deliver services to their residents using different models. Beacon provides most of its services directly through 65 resident services coordi nators (RSCs) and eight area resident services managers. Beacon trains its RSCs using training materials developed in-house and from industry leaders in the field, such as the New England Resident Services Coordinators (NERSC). The training focuses on effective program delivery, part nership development, care coordination, conflict resolution, resource building and other areas of impact. Many of the area resident service managers have backgrounds in social work, mental health and/or many years of experience being a resident service coordinator. “We have RSCs at 54 of our properties,” says Ford. “Some of our larger, more complex properties have multiple RSCs.” Beacon is a for-profit company, so it is not eligible for some of the grant monies or other state, local and federal monies available for select services at other non profit communities. Ford says funds for services come out of each community’s operating budgets, although in some communities Department of Housing and Urban Develop ment funds are used. McCormack Baron uses third parties to provide resi dents services, usually the company Urban Strategies or in some cases, the public partners on the project who say they prefer to provide the services. Nargang says he can’t recall an instance where they had to replace a third-party provider.

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Critical Need , continued on page 12

Tax Credit Advisor | March 2023 11

Re s i dent -Cente red Hous ing

Critical Need , continued from page 11

“We have such a close collaborative relationship with our third-party providers if there ever is a concern we can get to the table very quickly,” he says. “I have never seen an instance where someone dropped the ball.” “At all of our properties, we like to have frequent town hall meetings with residents to make sure they are getting what they need so we can adjust accordingly,” he adds. Nargang says most of the services pro

other residents on participation…it only takes a couple of residents to break down that barrier and then it is a fast-moving process.” Ford says COVID did not just impact residents’ partici pation in services, it impacted residents’ mental health. “COVID changed the landscape of resident services and as a result, it caused residents to experience emo

tional instability,” she says. “We started to see all kinds of mental health concerns and had to figure out what we needed to do to address it.” Ford says Beacon worked to identify local partners who could provide mental health support and care coordination. Role of Technology During the strictest lock-down periods of the pandemic, technology played a key role in resident services, Ford says. “Our goal was to link residents with services, whether it be through a laptop or tablet,” she says. Beacon worked with various partners to increase residents’ digital connectivity to health services. Keeping residents, espe cially seniors, linked with family and friends through their smartphones and tablets also

vided in McCormack Baron communities are mandated by a Qualified Allocation Plan, but the firm generally goes “above and beyond the QAP.” “This is why we are here. This is our mis sion as an organization,” he says of creating and maintaining vibrant, services-oriented communities. The QAP requires providing services for the entirety of the tax credit period, but Nargang says McCormack Baron typically goes beyond that period. Nargang adds that the services are often funded through public-private partnerships, using state or local government funding. Resident Participation Ford says COVID impacted residents’ participation levels in community service

Nargang stresses that the services provided to residents in affordable communities are key to their well-being. He cautions, however, that those services can’t be provided if the communities themselves aren’t built.

programs. Service providers are still working to bring participation levels back up, but they are improving. “After COVID, we had a hurdle to get past residents’ isolation,” explains Ford. “We had to increase the engage ment by going door to door and floor to floor to encourage residents to get out of their units and engage in fellow ship. We had to get residents to feel safe again. Now we are having more residents come back and participate in programming.” Nargang says the participation levels of residents vary widely among projects. In places of low participation, residents may not understand the specifics of the services. “There may be some skepticism around what exactly the services are,” he says. “Our third-party providers then work to gain our residents’ trust and give them informa tion. They show them the benefits of the services. Once we break down the barrier of the unknown for residents, it is amazing to see how they become advocates for the

was important. “We held workshops so residents could gain indepen dence on how to use their devices,” she says. Beacon also is using the federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to enroll residents in affordable internet and cable services. In McCormack Baron communities, service providers use technology to track participation levels in programs and register residents. Nargang stresses that the services provided to residents in affordable communities are key to their well-being. He cautions, however, that those services can’t be provided if the communities themselves aren’t built. This is increas ingly difficult amid escalating construction costs and other mitigating issues. “Hopefully, these issues will subside so we can get back to developing more projects that include services that are so desperately needed,” he says.

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Online Resources for Housing Market Analysts

N ational Council of Housing Market Analysts (NCHMA),

a subsidiary council within NH&RA, has developed a series of

white papers on pertinent topics. These are designed to help

improve the quality and consistency of market studies for

affordable housing projects and are available on

NCHMA White Papers: • Analysis of Age- and Income-Restricted Properties; • Best Practices for Rural Rental Housing Market Studies White Paper – Draft for Approval; • Calculating Market Rent; • Demand and Capture Rate Methodologies; • Factors to Consider in Market Analysis of a Preservation Property; • Introduction to Affordable Assisted Living Market Studies White Paper – Draft for Approval;

• Recommended Practices for Analyzing Turnover; • Recommended Practices for Determining Demand; • Recommended Practices for LIHTC Average Income Properties; • Selecting Comparable Properties; and • White Paper: Determining Market Area (Updated: June 2016 ).

For more information, visit council-housing-market-analysts/nchma-resources/.

National Council of Housing Market Analysts


Re s i dent -Cente red Hous ing

A Common Goal Robust Resident Services Are Key to Cohesive Communities By Abram Mamet R obust resident services within affordable housing developments are key to

transforming individual units and renters into a cohesive community. These services vary in type but are generally any formal program offered by an owner or operator of a housing development that goes beyond the building’s ‘brick and mortar’ necessities. “Resident services are essential,” Julianna Stuart, vice president of community impact at Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), tells Tax Credit Advisor . Such services ensure that “residents remain stably housed, can access new oppor

tunities to enrich their lives and can achieve financial independence.” Though they are intended to

impact residents, the benefits of well-considered programs and services very often flow back up stream toward property owners and operators. These returns can often be dramatic. For Julianna Stuart

example, one Midwestern service provider, CommonBond Communities, found in a 2018 review that their wide-ranging programs aimed broadly at eviction prevention returned $4 for every $1 spent. This financial and social lift was fairly evenly distributed amongst a broad array of stake holders, including residents, property investors, government and the wider community. Though resident services as a component of affordable housing

development have existed for decades, technological advancement in recent years has drastically reshaped how organizations and individual service providers deliver these vital resources to residents. For example, Stuart says that advances in remote connectivity have allowed POAH to scale their services, such as their Family Self Sufficiency program and financial coaching “much faster, dramatically reducing the amount of time to launch a new program and make it available to more residents. We think remote services are a great opportunity for certain programs, particularly to supplement in-person engagement.”

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Re s i dent -Cente red Hous ing

Challenges for Resident Services Today Though resident services have the potential for transformative impact, successfully deploying the types of life-changing programs that developers want and that residents need comes with many challenges. Chief among those challenges is the need to find funding for services. There are four ‘classic’ sources for this funding—organizations’ operating budgets, state and federal government dollars, nonprofit foundations and private donors—though other, more creative sources of funding exist and are available as well. Each of these, whether used alone or in tandem, can be inconsistent, and there is often an added cost of time and labor in fundraising and grant writing in order to cobble together a package that will successfully fund a desired program. The lack of federal funding for these programs has, over time, become the main inhibitor to the widespread adoption of resident services. One impactful 2022 study on resident services, “Resident Services Funding & Delivery Models Among Affordable Housing Nonprofits,” authored by Mel Miller of Harvard University’s Joint Cen ter for Housing Studies, concludes that “with limited and inconsistent sources available at the federal level, orga nizations have little guidance in figuring out whether and how to fund resident services.” Indeed, it is exceedingly difficult president and CEO of Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF), “it is a below-the-line expense.” Despite the myriad benefits of resident services, “we’re not appropriately valuing it in how we’re putting together financing stacks. We know it provides benefits to people and properties, and it’s not really being valued that way.” Such funding issues are compounded by a problematic trend affecting nearly every sector of America’s post COVID economy: staffing shortages and high turnover. These staffing issues have hit resident services programs particularly hard. “We have seen [a more] dramatic uptick in turnover and volume than we’ve ever had in our history in the last year and a half,” says Ellie Fanning, the executive director of Portfolio Resident Services. Andrea Ponsor to convince individual ownership groups to do the legwork to both secure funding and set up full resi dent services programs when there is no immediate incentive to do so. “Too often,” explains Andrea Ponsor,

“Our turnover rates and ratios went from being relatively manageable… to almost tripling.” Such turnover goes beyond simple wage increases and speaks to the unique needs that service coordi nators have within a demanding field,

Ellie Fanning

says Fanning. “Resident services is an industry as a whole that prides itself on being passionate and meeting the needs—whatever they are—of a whole community. And that can be quite a daunting task.” Beyond the funding issue, the field of resident services continues to deal with the sustained social impacts of COVID-19. Stuart, of POAH, explains that “the pandemic put enormous pressure on frontline staff, who continued to do their jobs while also helping residents navigate the ever-changing Coronavirus and its impact. It highlighted some gaps but also allowed us to get creative – for example,

A Common Goal , continued on page 16

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Re s i dent -Cente red Hous ing

are done in an effective, resident-centric manner. SAHF’s Ponsor says that CORES was initially created to help organizations, like Fannie Mae, identify housing operators who have “what it really takes to consistently build the capacity and commitment to resident services,” while also opening wider pathways for “dedicated funding streams getting to that scale and consistency.” Those funding streams came in the form of Fannie Mae’s Healthy Housing Rewards Program, whereby CORES-certified organizations become eligible for appealing loan-related pricing breaks for both building loans and preservation transactions, meant to, in the end, supplement the funding for resident services. As well, CORES Certification has now been adopted on Low Income Housing Tax Credit Qualified Allocation Plan applications in six states—Indiana, New Hampshire, Georgia, Maryland, Ohio and Virginia—further expanding avenues for resident services funding at a statewide level. Beyond serving as a checkmark for an increasing number of government funding sources, Ponsor says that CORES has become “a symbol to a wide range of

A Common Goal , continued from page 15

there are many tasks that used to fall on frontline staff that they simply could not take on considering everything they already had on their plate. So, we looked for things that we could centralize with our central office team and let frontline staff focus on building and maintaining strong relationships with residents.” Industry-Wide Solutions for Industry-Wide Problems In an industry that is used to confronting seemingly intractable issues, there are several solutions already being developed to try and place more resident services in affordable housing. One of the larger-scale solutions was the creation of the Certified Organization for Resident Engagement & Services (CORES) certification process. A program of SAHF created in connection with a partnership with the federal Fannie Mae loan organization, CORES puts prospective organizations through a robust set of qualifi cations in order to set a standard for how resident services

NH&RA Annual Meeting MARCH 6-9, 2023 Hyatt Regency Coconut Point • Bonita Springs, FL

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partners,” such as equity investors, tax credit investors and other lenders, “that you have a well-designed and consistently implemented system and way of thinking about and providing for services.” To wit: Stuart says that for POAH, CORES has been “a fantastic resource. The application process is a great exer cise in auditing the key elements of your resident services system. The CORES Resource Library and webinars have been a great tool for us as well, particularly on how to think about measuring impact in service-enriched housing.” Yet another solution, and one that has sprung up nearly hand-in-hand with the expansion of resident services, is the use of third-party companies either in whole or in part to take care of resident services programming within a development community. This has proved particularly popular, with Miller’s report finding that a majority of orga nizations rely on a third party in at least some capacity to deliver resident services, whether in whole or in part. Third-party organizations bring a degree of latitude and expertise where individual organizations might have blinders or inexperience with certain issues relating to resident services. “The reason a third-party organization that services many clients could be a benefit to owners is that sometimes you’re blinded if you only certify your own deals,” says Fanning, whose Portfolio Resident Services organization is one of the largest third-party service providers in the country. “By working with different owners, we would know and be privy to things that we need to sidestep or hurdle while working with different property needs across the country,” providing a broader perspective to ownership groups that might be more local or regionally based. Finally, something that has developed in more of a grassroots manner in the last ten years, is the increasing willingness of various independent organizations to come together and share knowledge. One example of this is Fanning’s organization, which has recently partnered with five other large third-party service providers to convene quarterly and collaborate about the many unique issues they are facing right now, and how to overcome them. This collaboration has “really brought together some of these key players… to help each other out, and get through this because we’ve got bigger metrics to achieve.” No matter whether it is today’s problem of employee retention or tomorrow’s problem of unknown scope and proportion, the meetings are critical, says Fanning. “Let’s get together and share resources, and open our books,

and bring leaders to the table who can prevent all of us from struggling with the same concept in our own homes, in our own entities, but be a resource to one another and explain this didn’t work for me, so don’t consider spend ing your resources on it.” Many other forms of this peer-oriented knowledge sharing exist—via organizations like NeighborWorks, the American Association of Service Coordinators and even SAHF itself—in order to bridge the gaps between com petitors with the common goal of service and community uplift. Each one is crucial to solving the problems that face resident service providers, and affordable housing more generally. As Fanning says, “Affordable housing is an industry in which people feel compelled, or called, or are people who have hearts of servants wanting to give back in some capacity to the world in which we live. And so where we’ve seen silos in the past…, we are now coming together as a more comprehensive, open-armed group and community to have these discussions about what we are going to do to fix it.”

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