July 21, 2024

Housing Finance Development

It's Your Housing Finance Development

ICF Real Estate Colloquium on Affordable Housing

On September 27, the ICF hosted the Real Estate Colloquium: Challenges & Progress towards Providing Affordable Housing in the U.S. This was a panel discussion with Ramon Jacobson ’98 MBA (Executive Director, LISC), Jolie Andler Milstein ’84 (President and CEO, NYSAFAH), and Peter Simons ’82 B.A., ’89 MBA (former CEO, HomeAid America). It was moderated and hosted by Professor Cameron LaPoint, Assistant Professor of Finance, Yale School of Management.

Despite the longstanding concept of the American Dream of a path to homeownership, the reality for countless individuals and families across the United States is an escalating struggle to find homes that are not only safe but also within their financial reach. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country had a shortage of housing units for sale or rent of 3.8 million, with the unavailability of affordable housing particularly pronounced for low-income and non-white renters. The ultimate consequence of this shortfall is that almost 600,000 Americans were chronically homeless in 2022.

The situation has become so dire that the White House announced its five-year Housing Supply Action Plan in May 2022 to unlock federal financing for affordable multifamily development and preservation, and encourage local governments to reform their zoning and land use policies to promote new residential construction.

In this lunch panel discussion, we brough together three experts who have spent their careers working on affordable housing provision from the perspectives of housing development, local policy, community advocacy, and real estate finance and loan underwriting. Our goal through this event was to dissect the origins of the current housing affordability crisis and outline a sustainable roadmap for local and national policymakers to tackle its root causes.

Ramon Jacobson Bio

Ramon Jacobson serves as Executive Director for LISC D.C., leading the Washington, D.C. office of a national community development finance institution that works with residents and local leadership to forge communities of opportunity.

Ramon joined LISC in 1998 after receiving his MBA from Yale SOM. He leads a team engaged in a broad range of work to build equity, opportunity, and community in the nation’s capital and across the D.C. region. He has managed more than $400 million in CDFI investments, loans, grants, and tax credit equity, that other financial institutions are hard pressed to make. These investments in affordable homeownership, rental housing, commercial properties, as well as community facilities helped to transform desperately disinvested neighborhoods two decades ago, and today help preserve economic diversity so that the people who survived the difficult decades can remain in the face of displacement and gentrification.

Ramon began his career working in the notorious, late 1980s New York City shelter system, developing programs to get single adults off the streets during a deadly cold snap. He helped grow and develop supportive and rural housing in the Twin Cities. He also has worked with health foundations where he studied preventable hospitalizations and the impact of primary care, as well as job training and anti-violence programs. He holds a B.A. from Harvard University and an MBA from the Yale School of Management. He serves on the board of the leading national nonprofit, Preservation of Affordable Housing in Boston, the E.L. Haynes Charter School Foundation in D.C., and the Wynburg Association in Maine. He was just honored this summer at the “Lit in D.C.” awards as a Legend by the Don’t Mute D.C. go-go music coalition.

Jolie Andler Milstein Bio

Jolie Andler Milstein is president and CEO of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH), the largest affordable housing trade group in the country, and serves as a housing expert and leading advocate for policies on matters that advance the industry. Through partnerships with agency, elected and corporate leaders, Jolie has helped transform NYSAFAH into the foremost voice on housing issues in both New York City and State.

Ms. Milstein is a strong proponent of supply-side solutions to solve the housing crisis and has helped drive successful public policy efforts and long-term financing efforts, like New York’s five-year housing plan. Her advocacy work was critical to maintaining funding levels for city and state housing programs and the establishment of the Council for Independent State Housing Associations (CISHA) in Washington, D.C.

Prior to her work at NYSAFAH, Ms. Milstein developed permanent supportive housing at Praxis Housing Initiatives, served as executive director of the Ulster County Development Corporation, and as senior director for economic development at the New York City Partnership. Jolie has extensive corporate experience as a commercial and residential investment banker at First Boston Corporation and as project architect at the architecture firm of Moore Ruble Yudell Architects.

Ms. Milstein is a licensed architect with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from University of California Berkeley, a master’s degree in architecture from the University of California Los Angeles, and a master’s degree of public and private management from Yale University. She is also adjunct faculty at the Fordham University Real Estate Institute.

Peter Simons Bio

Peter H. Simons recently retired after a 30-year career in the building and development industry, both in the private and non-profit sectors. He spent the final 7 of those years as CEO of HomeAid America (HAA), a leading national provider of housing for those experiencing homelessness. During his tenure as CEO, Mr. Simons led HomeAid’s growth across the country, adding 8 new chapters to bring the organization to 20 markets in 13 states. During this time, HAA completed 457 housing projects for non-profit service providers that assist the homeless across the nation, with a total value of $187 million. These projects have since served over 350,000 people facing homelessness.

Prior to joining HAA, Mr. Simons spent the previous 23 years as a private sector building industry executive, 13 years of which he spent with Beazer Homes, one of the nation’s ten largest homebuilders. In his last role with Beazer, Mr. Simons spent over 5 years as the Division President of the company’s Colorado operations. Prior to that, he served as SVP for Corporate Development for Beazer, overseeing all aspects of the company’s corporate expansion through merger and acquisition and new business development.  

Mr. Simons holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management and a B.A. from Yale University. He worked on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. for his first five years out of college, serving as Sr. Legislative Aide to Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii. In this role, Mr. Simons managed all legislative matters for the Senator in his areas of expertise, which included tax, commerce, transportation, and housing policy. He also served as the Senator’s aide on the Iran-Contra Committee in 1987.

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