December 17, 2019

President’s Message: Looking Ahead

By Priya Jayachandran, President


This time of your year is about gratitude and thanks. I am immensely grateful to our residents who grant us the privilege to offer them a home; to our partners for their support, inspiration and friendship to increase our impact through collaboration; and to our amazing team at NHT for the dedication, passion, and creativity they bring to our mission and our work. Thank you. 

As we look toward a new year and a new decade, I am excited about several opportunities on the horizon for NHT:

Expanding our local impact-- NHT’s legacy has been our unique contribution to applying and experimenting with policy solutions on the local level.  Most of that work has been right here in Washington, DC for obvious reasons:  we’re based here, and our staff reside in and are committed personally to the region.  One of our accomplishments in 2019 – and one that we’re excited to build on in the new year -- is expanding and coalescing our local impact.  Our lending, energy, development and resident services teams have long worked in the region.  In 2020, we will bring that work together under a new initiative and commitment to the region including new activity and commitment to local housing policy and programming.  One of our first new initiatives will be launching a local Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program. 

Making the case for renewed housing investment—The presidential election and national conversation (finally!) around affordable housing gives NHT the opportunity and calling to leverage our legacy and expertise to advocate for new investment in affordable housing, including new rental assistance.  It’s time to go beyond simply renewing Section 8 and to envision investments for the next decade.

Strategic planning—NHT will embark on a new strategic plan in 2020.  It’s been several years since our last plan and a lot has changed in our landscape and our leadership.  I’m excited to work with our leadership team, our staff, our board and stakeholders to envision NHT’s breadth and impact for the coming years.

New board leadership—Over the past year, we have worked with our board to strengthen the governance of NHT.  We’ve made tremendous strides including updating our bylaws, activating board committees and adopting term limits.  I am immensely grateful to Marilyn Melkonian, co-founder of NHT, who has served as our Board Chair for the past 30 years and has supported me tremendously over the past nearly two years.  Marilyn will remain an active NHT board member while Jane Graf, President & CEO of Mercy Housing, will assume leadership of our board effective January 1.  Jane has had a long and deep impact on affordable housing and leadership in our field and I look forward to learning from her.   

Continuing our terrific impact—While it’s fun and important to think about NHT’s new impact, equally important and impactful is the work NHT does every day and that we will continue and expand:


  • Preserving, protecting and producing scarce affordable housing units;
  • Developing programming for our residents that helps alleviate their burden;
  • Lending capital to preserve, protect and produce scarce affordable housing units;
  • Collaborating with other affordable housing owners to embrace energy retrofits and renewable energy in order to create healthier homes, create new resources to reinvest in residents and properties, and lower carbon emissions;
  • Advocating for Section 8, Housing Credits and other critical housing investments;
  • Bringing our expertise and knowledge of best practices to states and localities that are developing strategies and plans to address their affordable housing shortage, including preservation;
  • Strengthening the sustainability of our own organization so that we’re better able to weather natural funding cycles and continue to have the deep impact we’ve had for over 30 years.

Thank you again for your partnership and all you do to support and inspire us.  Happy Holidays and best wishes to you and your families for the new decade!