Where do you begin when you reflect back on 2020? It felt like business as usual until March, then the bottom seemed to fall out. It was a period of time before we all got our bearings. What we saw emerge was a whole new appreciation for housing – home, a sanctuary, a safe place, refuge. People were focused on the importance of housing like we had not seen before.
NASLEF members reacted to the pandemic by rallying together and soon were meeting to compare notes on how other NASLEF organizations were responding to all the changes brought on by the pandemic. Of immediate concern were the people that live in properties we had developed. We had projects under construction that were challenged by construction delays and supply chain issues. Not to mention the adjustments that had to be made as we closed down our offices. It was impressive how NASLEF members quickly turned to other members for mutual support.
As 2020 unfolded, NASLEF members were able to push forward and continued to raise funds for Housing Credit investments and create or preserve affordable housing units at a pace that was consistent with prior years. This was due in large part to the relationships NASLEF members had established with their investment partners and because of the talented staff at each of the NASLEF member organizations.
As the year came to a close, there was hope that we could control the spread of the virus but there was still a lot of work to do. In November we held local and national elections that brought changes at the State level, Congress and we elected a new President. There was a certain amount of positive energy. But grounded in all that was a sense of loss and sadness for all those that had experienced the worst of the pandemic. NASLEF members took stock in what they had accomplished in 2020 and it became apparent that the work NASLEF members had done over the years to maintain their local presence and expand operations meant they were in a much better position to fend off the kind of disruption that a pandemic can cause.
If I dare look out into 2021and beyond, I expect to see an evolving NASLEF organization that will reflect changes that members are making to the way they have traditionally worked in the affordable housing industry. NASLEF members have leveraged the experience they gained working with the Housing Credit program to address expanded housing and community development initiatives. This work has been hugely successful. NASLEF’s identity has been state and local but NASLEF has developed a national reputation for being distinct with mission as a motivator. NASLEF may evolve but it will continue to be a differentiator in the market because our investor and developer partners have come to count on us for that.