MHN Interview: CEO of CDT Discusses the State of Capital for Affordable Housing

By Jessica Fiur, News Editor – Multi-Housing News Magazine

New York—The Community Development Trust (CDT) recently was awarded $1.45 million from the Community Development Institutions Fund (CDIF) to preserve affordable housing. MHN talks to Joe Reilly, president and CEO of CDT about this award, as well as the state of capital for affordable housing across the country.

MHN: CDT was recently awarded $1.45 million for affordable housing. What does this mean for CDT?

Reilly: It’s the fourth award that we’ve received from the CDFI Fund. The total so far is about $4.7 million this year, and several of the years we’ve received the highest amount that was awarded to any of the recipients. This is a resource that would allow us to leverage private money and allow us to continue to buy a small balance of non-conforming multifamily loans—loans that might not fit into the main model—from CDFIs around the country, to help them provide liquidity. We buy those loans—some of them we hold, some of them we reposition, we syndicate some of them, we create mortgage-backed securities with some of them—but the key here is the opportunity on a national basis to provide liquidity to CDFIs that need to make more loans. They need to get some loans off their balance sheets, and we can buy those loans using these dollars from the CDFI Fund, leveraging those dollars with private dollars to create liquidity for them and hopefully generate the opportunity for more affordable housing debt to be originated.

MHN: How do you see the state of capital for affordable housing right now?

Reilly: I think that we’re certainly in a very challenging time, with regard to the resources that are available right now for affordable housing. The amounts available vary from state to state, and from region to region. Clearly many local municipalities are struggling, and the subsidies that they might have provided in the past are in some instances less readily available today than they might have been a few years ago. Though, in the field of affordable housing we’re working harder to gather the resources to make projects work.

MHN: What are some of the other challenges?

Reilly: In some instances the demand for low-income tax credits is less in some markets than in other markets, so in some very strong, high-profile markets—New York, Chicago, California—there is no shortage of investors for low-income housing tax credits. But those prices are a little bit less in some other markets. The challenges vary from market to market. In New York there’s probably more money available than in some of the smaller markets around the country.

MHN: What are some of the other projects you have coming up?

Reilly: We’re a hybrid REIT, so we own real estate as well as having loans on real estate. We own about 5,000 units of housing around the country and we have debt on 17,000 units of housing around the country—they’re all affordable. This year we have acquired two properties, and we have a commitment to buy a third. We should close in a month. We’re excited about those new acquisitions, and we’re confident they’re going to work well. Our role there is to invest in those properties and to facilitate the preservation of those properties as affordable housing, so we’re seeing some good opportunities on the equity investment side. We’re also seeing some opportunities to continue our work in loans from CDFIs from other sources. We’re working closely with Fannie Mae right now on a fairly large transaction, and we’re hoping we can bring that to a conclusion. That will probably happen in the next month or two. We’re proud of the work we do on a national basis, and we end up being in somewhat of a unique position here, to provide capital to CDFIs on the debt side, but also being available to invest in affordable housing at the same time.

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