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Jim Chandler

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AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE
The Dean of LIHTC Allocators
Jim Chandler marks 40 years at VHDA.
By Donna Kimura

Jim Chandler has been an enduring presence at the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) for four decades.
Peter Arkle

For the past 18 years, he has held the key role of director of the agency’s low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program. The dean of LIHTC allocators, Chandler will retire in February.

“It’s been rewarding,” he says. “Whenever I have a chance to talk at any dedication, I always say that it’s the best part of the job. To see the final product and the tenants who are benefitting from the development gives you a good feeling that what you’re doing is making a difference.”

Chandler has helped refine the state’s LIHTC program, including encouraging the use of green-building strategies.
He recently received the Visionary Award from EarthCraft Virginia in recognition of his leadership in sustainable housing. Under Chandler’s leadership, almost 14,000 apartments in the state have been EarthCraft certified, with 3,000 units under design and construction.

A recent Housing Virginia study of LIHTC properties found that apartments built to high energy-efficient use 40% less energy than those built to existing code requirements. For residents, that translates to more than $600 in savings each year.

“Jim Chandler is the Cal Ripken Jr. of credit agency program directors, so it is only fitting that he be inducted into a hall of fame,” says Michael Novogradac, managing partner at Novogradac & Co., a leading accounting and advisory firm that works in the LIHTC field. “For more than 35 years, Jim dedicated himself to the ongoing challenges of meeting the nation’s housing needs, and he reliably rose to meet those challenges with innovation and integrity. So just as Cal Ripken Jr. remains an ambassador of the game of baseball, we look forward to Jim Chandler serving as an ambassador for the importance of affordable rental housing.”

For his longtime service, Chandler is being inducted into Affordable Housing Finance's Hall of Fame.
Chandler joined VHDA when he was about 29 years old, starting as a construction cost analyst. The agency was looking for someone with knowledge of construction costs, and Chandler fit the bill with a degree in building construction and experience working at several contracting firms. He was charged with making sure VHDA’s construction loan amounts were in line with the work being done.

He then served as supervisor of construction inspections for many years before becoming a development loan officer, underwriting both construction and permanent loans. From there, he became familiar with the housing tax credit program. While serving as a loan officer, he would help out on the tax credit side, underwriting the feasibility credit amount.

He then became director of the LIHTC program in 1997. VHDA reserve approximately $19 million in LIHTC authority each year to help developers finance their developments. About 35 projects receive LIHTC funding each year.

“Under Jim’s direction, Virginia’s tax credit program has always been focused on transparency, stakeholder input, cost control, and objectivity,” says Susan Dewey, VHDA executive director. “As a result, I think that all of our stakeholders would agree that we do things in a fair and equitable way. In addition, Jim is both a pragmatist and a technician – a rare combination that has served our program well over the years. We’ll miss Jim’s leadership at VHDA, but know that he’s leaving us with a program that’s considered one of the best in the country.”

Outside of the office, Chandler is a big Frank Lloyd Wright fan and has visited a number of the architect’s famed buildings. He has also renovated a few homes.

Chandler and his wife, Linda, have four sons and a daughter

Donna Kimura is deputy editor of Affordable Housing Finance. She has covered the industry for more than a decade. Before that, she worked at an internet company and several daily newspapers. Connect with Donna at dkimura@hanleywood.com or follow her @DKimura_AHF.