The New York City Housing Development Corporation and the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority have been selected by the ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing as the joint winners of the 2019 Robert C. Larson Housing Policy Leadership Award, which is an annual recognition of the innovative ways that the public sector is addressing the country’s affordable housing crisis.
The winners, selected by a jury of nationally renowned housing industry leaders, were announced today during ULI’s 2019 Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C. Terwilliger Center Founder and former ULI Chairman J. Ronald Terwilliger served as the jury chairman. “These policies demonstrate the hard work, creative thinking, and leadership that are necessary to provide affordable housing for those who so desperately need it,” Terwilliger said. “They are fine examples of what is achievable, and it is my hope that they inspire more creativity and more solutions in more of our communities.”
The New York City Housing Development Corporation was selected for its creative approach to deploying capital toward affordable housing. The Mitchell-Lama program, created in 1955, facilitated the construction of over 140,000 units spanning more than 300 developments. Due to the risk of expiring affordability requirements, the NYC Housing Development Corporation created the Mitchell-Lama Reinvestment Program. This program provides Mitchell-Lama rentals and co-ops with ultra-low-cost capital and waived financing fees to address maintenance needs, in exchange for keeping the 100 remaining Mitchell-Lama developments (consisting of more than 45,000 homes) at affordable housing rates.
The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority was recognized for its proactive actions in creating affordable housing before it becomes a problem in the city. The goal of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s Workforce Housing Program is to identify clusters of publicly owned land, bundle them, sell them at the highest possible sale price to the public sector while requiring developers to ensure that the properties are owner occupied, homeowners are income certified, and that resales are made at an affordable price point for up to 30 years, and create a credit enhancement program that matches a land and credit subsidy. The first workforce housing project went to settlement in 2015 and has led to 13 projects with 148 units of workforce housing, along with an additional 62 market-rate units in mixed-income projects.
The award recognizes exemplary state and local programs, policies, and practices that support the production, rehabilitation, or preservation of workforce and affordable housing. It was created in 2011 to honor the legacy of the late Robert C. Larson, a former Terwilliger Center advisory board member, former ULI Foundation chairman, and a longtime ULI trustee.
The Larson Award is part of the ULI Terwilliger Center’s housing awards program, which honors developments and programs that provide affordable, well-designed, and accessible housing choices for people with a mix of incomes, including families earning up to 120 percent of the area median income.
The program recognizes states and localities that undertake a broad range of policy and administrative initiatives to support housing affordability. This can take the form of regulatory or administrative changes such as allowing higher densities and waiving fees, or programs that provide grants or financing assistance. Policy programs are judged on several factors, including impact on the supply of workforce housing, comprehensiveness of the tools and programs employed, involvement of public/private partnerships, and the ability to leverage private and nonprofit funds, among other criteria.
In addition to Terwilliger, members of the 2019 Larson Award jury were as follows: Tamara Dudukovich, vice president and director of development, Catalyst Communities LLC; Alan George, executive vice president and chief investment officer, Equity Residential; Lisa Gordon, president and CEO, Atlanta Habitat for Humanity; Linda Mandolini, president, Eden Housing; and Margaret Wylde, chief executive officer, Pro Matura Group.