Pop Quiz with Heather Framboise | Housing Finance Magazine

Heather Raspberry is executive director of the Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND), comprised of more than 450 organizations working across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to collaborate in the production and preservation of affordable housing in the region of the capital of Baltimore, Washington, DC and Richmond, Virginia.

Rhea Whitney Photography
Raspberry Heather

Since joining the organization in 2012, she has been instrumental in growing HAND’s membership and expanding its training and capacity building programs.

What was your first job?

My first job was working in the kid-check area at Chuck E. Cheese. It was a short-lived experience before I took up a receptionist position at the Old National Bank in its mortgage department.

What has this job taught you?

I didn’t know it at the time, but the Old National Bank Mortgage Department really opened my eyes to the importance of home. Working as a receptionist allowed me to see the power of home and how it can change the trajectory of a family. I worked there for a little over five years, and even after I went to Hampton University, I would go back and work summers.

How did you get started in affordable housing?

When I graduated from Hampton, my first job was working as a campaign coordinator for a county commissioner’s campaign. As I reflect on the needs raised by community members, even then their desires were all centered around wanting to thrive. When I moved to DC, I worked for the housing authority where those same needs were shared by the residents we served, and I had the opportunity to dive deeper into the broader ecosystem of the housing partners working towards these common goals. Non-profit organizations have played a vital role in the space, often knowing community needs intimately and working in partnership to manifest strong community developments. That’s what inspired me to move into the nonprofit sector and work closely with the issues that families faced on a daily basis. Often our work in this industry and the change we seek is incremental, which can discourage those who work in it; however, I was very lucky to see real-time effects and other people’s work displayed right before my eyes.

What topic have you spent the most time on this year?

the Housing Indicator Tool (HIT), a resource to track local efforts to produce affordable rental housing in the DC area is what I’ve spent a lot of time on over the past year. We hope that by following local action from a regional perspective, HIT will provide more housing options and facilitate intergovernmental collaboration and the involvement of private and philanthropic organizations. The jurisdictional dashboards featured in the platform provide a much-needed baseline against which we can measure our progress towards solving the need: 375,000 net new homes by 2030. HIT also has a companion report, “ Compounding Interests, Compounding Inequities: Racism, Housing, and Our Region’s Responsibility to Act,” which provides key context to underpin jurisdictional data, while emphasizing the imperative to address the affordable housing crisis in the region to address racial inequalities that were embedded in housing, long before COVID-19.

How does the hand change?

When we witnessed the murder of George Floyd last year, HAND was in the middle of our racial equity learning series, and we felt confirmed that the work of the past five years positioned us to respond with agility in the weeks and months to come. We doubled down on our commitment to prioritize racial equity. This year we launched both the HIT and Equity in action—a debt and equity platform supporting black and brown developers who often face barriers accessing capital to execute their visions for equitable communities. At all levels, we are thinking about the role we can play in dismantling systems and structures designed to benefit the privileged few.
For six years, HAND has intentionally addressed the root causes of housing disparities among communities of color. Our conferences infuse content that challenges the way we think gentrification and the the story discrimination, segregation and housing policy. Breaking the cycles of poverty and disinvestment is essential to fully support our communities.

The best move during the pandemic?

I’m proud of our latest initiative, which is a partnership with Greystone–Equity in Action. True to our commitment to center racial equity, HAND is intentional in embedding these values ​​into our operations and creating solutions that generate fair and equitable outcomes for communities of color. We strive to show our members what it means to tackle the long-standing barriers that are woven into the very fabric of our society. Even amid the growing challenge of housing affordability, black and brown real estate developers still face the hurdle of accessing the capital needed to execute their community revitalization plans, and the partnership with Greystone will provide targeted solutions. to resolve this problem. .

Share with us an interesting statistic or fact about affordable housing in your area.

In the thriving DC region, with more than 10 million people and the third-largest economy in the United States, access to affordable housing is uneven, out of reach of those in need and failing to keep pace with the demand. Even with a minimum wage of $15 an hour in DC, it would take 88 hours of work to pay for a two-bedroom rental and more than 100 hours in Maryland and Virginia. If we are to solve this housing crisis, the combined support of all sectors – business and philanthropy – will be crucial.

What skills have helped you the most in your career?

You cannot do this job alone. Being able to build inclusive partnerships across sectors and jurisdictions has been one of the most valuable skills to help me in my career. Building a tool like the HIT required the buy-in and cooperation of 10 Washington-area jurisdictions. The HIT emphasizes that regional problems require regional solutions and, once equipped with the knowledge of our position, we can effectively pivot to better meet the needs of housing supply and a more equitable region.

Have you picked up any new hobbies or skills in the past year?

When the city went into quarantine last year and the gyms were closed, it became clear that I would have to create a new space to support my health and well-being. So I bought a new bike and love getting lost in and around town on adventures. Bike adventures have also been a way for my buddies to get together when Saturday brunch was no longer an option.

If you could take a crash course in any subject, what would it be and why?

I would like to know how to produce a documentary. Whenever I have time to sit in front of the television, I watch some kind of documentary and absorb all the information in front of me.

What’s next for you?

Thanks to the success of HIT, I am already working with our partners to build next year’s version of the tool. HAND’s footprint spans from Baltimore to Richmond. Maryland has just completed its statewide housing assessment, and we’re really excited to expand HIT to the Baltimore market in 2022 and hope we can do the same for Richmond in 2023. We’re Committed 100% to continue developing this tool to help hold local governments accountable in their efforts to develop affordable housing. Our region has a lot of work to do to reach our goals by 2030, and I look forward to being part of a more equitable region where access to affordable housing at all income levels is the norm.

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