New Developments: One for the Road

4 min read

Unless I’ve miscounted, I believe this is my 150th and final New Developments column. Over the years, I’ve explored countless themes but the ones I have enjoyed writing the most are about transformative public policy. For my final column it feels fitting that I am writing about the Biden-Harris Administration’s “Housing Supply Action Plan.” 

While HSAP isn’t the pithiest of program names, it is probably the most ambitious housing policy manifesto I have seen in my time in Washington. It calls for closing the housing supply gap in five years and affordable rental housing production is the cornerstone of the initiative.

Addressing administrative action and proposed legislation, the HSAP is comprised of several overarching strategies:

1. Encouraging jurisdictions to reform zoning and land-use policies to promote affordable housing development;

2. Deploying new financing tools to build and preserve housing;

3. Expanding and improving existing federal affordable housing financing;

4. Directing government-owned housing resources to individual homeowners and nonprofits (as opposed to large institutional investors); and

5. Addressing supply chain challenges and improving building techniques.

Many aspects of the plan can be implemented immediately and do not require legislative action. Highlights include:

•   Directing billions in already appropriated transportation grant funds to support jurisdictions with land use policies that promote density and rural main street revitalization;

•   Directing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to expand their multifamily forward commitment loan products and to consider the creation of construction to permanent multifamily loan products; 

•   Finalizing the rules for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit “average income test.” (Naturally we hope that the IRS takes into account our recommendations to fix some of the more problematic aspects of the draft regulations);

•   Streamlining program requirements when pairing LIHTC with Department of Housing & Urban Development funding to reduce transaction costs and duplicative requirements; and

•   Lowering import duties on Canadian softwood shipments.

Complementary legislative and budget priorities would, if enacted, fund hundreds of thousands of new affordable housing units. Highlights include:

•   Billions of dollars in new grants and the creation of a “housing supply fund” that would support and reward local jurisdictions that remove barriers to affordable housing; 

•   $25 billion in flexible grants for affordable housing production to be allocated to state housing finance agencies; 

•   The enactment of many key provisions from the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act that were included in the House-passed reconciliation bill, including the lowering of the 50 percent test; and

•   Additional funding for the National Housing Trust Fund, HOME, Housing Choice Voucher, project-based rental assistance, public housing capital and operating funds, etc.

The plan is ambitious but also grounded in political reality: it highlights what can be done unilaterally while making the case for a legislative package that, in theory, should garner at least some bipartisan support. The budget reconciliation process also remains on the table too, so if it can’t be enacted on a bipartisan basis there is still a window for the Democratic controlled House and Senate to enact the package. I subscribe to the theory that politics is the art of the possible and thus remain hopeful that we will see at least some of the Housing Supply Action Plan enacted this fall. Taken together or in parts, the plan is exciting and transformative.



I began my career in affordable housing with the National Housing & Rehabilitation Association more than 17 years ago. Over this span I have had the privilege of working with incredible professionals on many unique and impactful projects. We helped lead the way in greening the affordable housing portfolio, most notably through our work with the MacArthur Foundation and our Preservation Through Energy Efficiency Initiative. We collaborated with partners in the public and private sector to help create the Rental Assistance Demonstration program. We achieved meaningful legislative improvements to expand the LIHTC, New Markets Tax Credit and Historic Tax Credit. We brought together like-minded professionals to collaborate on the development of best practices on diverse topics, like market analysis, the efficient administration of multifamily bond programs and asset portfolio management. 

I have also been the beneficiary of countless mentors and friends who taught me the ropes, supported my passion projects and stuck with NH&RA through the inevitable tough times, including the Great Recession, tax reform in 2017 and, most recently, the pandemic. 

I have been lucky to have worked with so many dedicated professionals that comprise the stellar team at NH&RA. What’s more, it has been a rare privilege to collaborate with YOU, our members, readers and partners who are transforming policy and programs into action and creating more than just housing but homes for the people that need them most. Thank you for your continued support and please stay in touch.

Thom joined National Housing & Rehabilitation Association (NH&RA) in 2004 and currently serves as its as Executive Vice-President and Executive Director. NH&RA is a national trade association and peer-network for affordable housing and tax credit developers and related professionals including: investors, lenders, public agencies and professional advisers. Thom directs the association’s day-to-day operations including legislative and regulatory advocacy, committee activities, conferences and events, publications, financial management and strategic planning. Thom also serves as the Executive Director of the Tennessee Developers Council, a state-wide trade association for affordable housing developers and professionals active in Tennessee. In 2013 he spearheaded the launch of NH&RA's Preservation through Energy Efficiency Project, a major educational initiative supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Thom also serves on the Board of Directors for International Center for Appropriate & Sustainable Technology (iCAST) as well as the Advisory Board for its ResourceSmart program, a turn-key, cost-effective, green rehab provider for multifamily affordable and market-rate housing communities and nonprofit facilities. Thom is a frequent speaker at affordable housing, sustainable development and tax credit industry events and has been published in a variety of industry journals including Tax Credit Advisor, Independent Banker, and the Novogradac Journal of Tax Credit Housing. Thom also serves as the Associate Publisher of Tax Credit Advisor, a monthly magazine for tax credit and affordable housing professionals and is an Executive Vice-President at Dworbell Inc., a boutique association management and communications firm in Washington, DC. Thom was previously employed at a national lobbying firm focusing on financial services and technology issues. Prior to moving to Washington, Thom worked in media relations in the New York State Assembly and as a research assistant for New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen. Thom graduated Magna Cum Laude from Tufts University with a double major in Political Science and History.