Spring Newsletter - Chris Flynn '04: Community Development and Affordable Housing
When Chris Flynn entered Columbia Business School, she had not considered a career in community development. “I only knew that I wanted a rewarding, mission-focused career in a business-oriented field,” she says. After graduation, Flynn accepted a position in the Credit Risk Group at the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), a public benefit corporation that issues tax-exempt and taxable municipal bonds to finance the creation and preservation of quality, affordable housing in New York City.
“One of the pivotal events for me as a student was the annual Net Impact Conference,” she says. “The panelists on economic development were financially astute and applied a structure and rigor to an area that I cared about.” In addition to taking finance courses on real estate and affordable housing, Flynn interned at the National Equity Fund, a national syndicator of low-income housing tax credits. “I was able to apply concepts and tools from corporate finance to structure low-income housing deals,” she says.
At HDC, Flynn manages the financial model for the Mitchell-Lama preservation effort, a project she finds particularly rewarding. A highly successful program initiated in 1955, Mitchell-Lama made more than 105,000 affordable housing units available to low- and moderate-income families in New York City. Affordability restrictions on many of these units are set to expire, which would open them up to market rate rents at double or triple current prices. HDC encourages Mitchell-Lama owners to stay in the program by providing favorable refinancing terms and money for capital improvements. Flynn prepares the refinancing materials for each project, meets with owners and managing agents and prepares reports on the size of the potential bond issuance.
She was drawn to HDC because working in a government position would expose her to the broadest set of players in the affordable housing arena. “NYC is a mecca for affordable housing,” Flynn says. “Because of the high cost of living here there is tremendous demand for affordable housing. This great demand combined with a high level of political support for affordable housing has permitted for-profit, nonprofit and governmental organizations to work together to develop and preserve the city’s affordable housing stock.”
Flynn received funding from the School’s Guenther Family Public and Nonprofit Assistance Program, which provides a one-time financial award to graduating MBAs taking management positions in public sector or nonprofit organizations.