In the 1980s and early ’90s, the nonprofit housing industry focused on creating financing and building development capacity for the production of affordable rental housing. By the mid-1990s, ensuring the sustainability of these units emerged also as a critical issue for nonprofits, communities, lenders and syndicators. In response, Neighborhood Reinvestment (now NeighborWorks America), The Enterprise Foundation (now Enterprise Community Partners), and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) came together in 1995 to form the Consortium for Housing and Asset Management to support nonprofit organizations in their long-term ownership of affordable housing.
Thus began the drumbeat for asset management. As the issues and complexities of nonprofit ownership of affordable housing continue to evolve, CHAM provides training, networking and information required to keep that housing affordable, well maintained and an asset to the owner, residents and the community.
We worked hard and played hard
“CHAM started out with the Nonprofit Housing Management Specialist course (NHMS). We offered that roughly three times a year in Denver. We provided scholarships to people in the beginning, so they didn’t have to pay to come. Mickey Diggs was the first CHAM director, and his motto was “work hard, play hard.” So, we did work hard. And then in the evening, he would get group activities going so people would play. And then after playing, people would then come back and say, David, I need help trying to figure out how to compute net present value, an internal rate of return and all that good stuff. So, we’d be doing technical assistance on calculators at ten o’clock at night along that line.”
“Asset Management” Emerges
“While Mickey Digg’s initial focus was on property management, LISC was focused on this notion of asset management, which was a term borrowed from the world of finance. There was a belief at LISC that every community development corporation should have expertise in asset management, whether or not they directly managed the property day to day. In 1996 LISC wrote the training curriculum, and we were trying to make the concept of asset management salient in the context of nonprofit, affordable housing.
And we came together on this to build a broader coalition. Enterprise and LISC realized that the premier community development training institution was housed in what was then Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation and why compete when you can join? And that was brilliant. And it helped us grow quickly and gain a following and legitimacy and reach. And it was all done in a remarkably short time. I mean, really in a period of one, two, three, four years. And CHAM was up and running.”
Hear about CHAM from Inception to the Present
Hear about CHAM in a spirited retelling of the history by several key players. The story of our values, mission and culture comes full circle at the end of the video with the presentation of the 2021 Mickey Diggs Award to Juana Meija.
This recording from the 2021 CHAM Conference features storytellers Lisa Deller (NEF), David Fromm (NeighborWorks America), Dick Heitler (formerly of LISC), Ruby Rodriguez (MBD), Harold Nassau (NeighborWorks America) and Judy Weber (Viva Consulting).