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President's Message: January 2019

By Priya Jayachandran


Happy New Year!

It's hard to believe that I joined National Housing Trust a year ago! Time flies when you're having fun and indeed I am. I am proud and motivated by our mission, by our team and by the impactful work we do across advocacy, lending, real estate development and sustainability.  

Our size and close teamwork allows us to be innovative and react quickly to real-time circumstances like the current federal government shutdown. Our policy team has highlighted the real threats to residents of project-based Section 8 properties from lack of funding. Already, due to expiring subsidy contracts, some owners have not received their federal rental subsidies for the months of December and January, and may have the right, depending on their state laws, to evict tenants. The assumption that many of them will not evict is a testament to the caliber of project-based Section 8 owners. Nonetheless, it's still a frightening and unnecessary risk to low-income families.

Our lending team has tried to mitigate the impact of the shutdown on mission-based affordable housing owners by offering a new interim cashflow loan. The new loan product provides capital at the lowest rate that covers our own costs, and NHT Lending will wait on repayment until the government reopens.  

Given the high-capacity and innovative skills of our team, I'm often asked what I do. It's a good question. I spend a lot of my time thinking and acting on how we position NHT for the future. The world in which we operate is constantly changing and we strive to stay true to our values and mission while also remaining responsive. This year, I'm looking forward to working with our board to launch a new strategic plan that helps to position us on the right trajectory for the future. Part of that plan will focus on a new funding strategy, which is another place I spend my time. 

Historically we have relied heavily on philanthropy to support most of our policy work. Funders recognize the value of our effort, efficiency, and innovation, and have supported our impact throughout the past 25 years. Now 30 years into our venture, we would like to self-fund more of our work. We will always seek partnership to help us innovate and fund new ventures, but some of the work that is at the core of our mission is long-term, and it’s difficult to show the short-term outcomes that many funders seek – like our policy advocacy on Capitol Hill. That work is important to us and the people we serve, and it makes sense that we create a fund to sustain it.  

We’ve started our new shift to self-funding by focusing on increasing the activity of our lending, real estate development and sustainability work. This year, I am working closely with those teams to develop business plans and goals that will increase our work in those respective markets. By doing more, we can have exponential impact; directly on the rapidly growing affordability crisis by creating and preserving more units, and indirectly by sustaining and strengthening our organization so we can continue to do the important work that protects the lowest income Americans.

We look forward to working with partners like you as we develop our plans and always welcome suggestions and input.  

Cheers to a healthy and productive 2019!