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Affordable Housing , Announcements , Community Development

Getting Schooled – the Connecticut Affordable Housing Academy

3 December 2013

Betsy Crum is the Executive Director of Connecticut Housing Coalition.

In 1965, the great Curtis Mayfield sang, "People get ready, there's a train a'comin." He could have been probably talking about affordable housing when he invited us to "just get on board." Our housing industry is gearing up to meet the challenge of the dramatic investments being made in creating and renovating affordable housing. 

In just a few short years, the state of Connecticut has pledged over a half a billion dollars in new financing for housing, including commitments that go well into the future.  Coming on the heels of the Great Recession, this historic commitment also promises to spur economic growth and community revitalization.  But at the same time, it challenges and stretches the capacity of the affordable housing industry.  While capital resources have grown ten-fold in two years, most developers have not been able to keep pace. 

The majority of nonprofit developers has operated for years without reliable and adequate public funding and has suffered a decrease or elimination of philanthropic support.  Most Public Housing Authorities have little experience with real estate development, and are struggling to manage their ever-shrinking operating funds.  As the funding “train” rolls down the tracks, many developers are looking to get aboard.

Enter the Connecticut Affordable Housing Academy.  The Connecticut Housing Coalition – with support from The Connecticut Department of Housing, Citi Community Development Foundation and the Melville Charitable Trust – recently launched a four-month customized training course for owners and developers of affordable housing. 

The Academy’s purpose is to expand developer capacity and create a pipeline of housing development and revitalization projects that meet the state’s goals for their funds.  It offers customized training in housing development and finance, technical assistance in project development, and predevelopment funding to jump-start deals.  The National Development Council (NDC) and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) are partnering with the Housing Coalition in this effort.

The Affordable Housing Academy is running from October through February and is working with 10 development teams.  All teams are working on developments that are as diverse as the housing needs of the state:  small, medium and large developments; urban, suburban, and rural settings; affordable and mixed income units; new construction, substantial rehabilitation and preservation of existing housing; family homes, supportive housing and senior apartments.  These projects will seek funding in 2014 and 2015, creating a pipeline of high quality, ready-to-proceed projects that will meet our state’s housing needs going forward.

So, “People, Get Ready” is now making way for “Be True to Your School,” and the Connecticut Affordable Housing Academy will be ready to graduate its first class at the end of February 2014.  We believe these projects will be among the best and the brightest and that the teams will be well-positioned and have the skills and experience to take on their next deal. 

Betsy Crum is the Executive Director of Connecticut Housing Coalition.

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