Steve has more than 20 years of experience in affordable housing finance and nonprofit management. He joined NeighborWorks Capital in 2016 and has been Chief Lending Officer since 2017. You’ll want to contact Steve to discuss permanent loans, predevelopment loans, and to talk about his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.
What keeps you interested in Community Development Finance?
I’ve worked in this field for more than 20 years, with many different types of customers and on a lot of different loans, developments, problems, and successes (and some failures, too). The diverse demand for solutions to challenges that developers and community leaders have to deal with in making their neighborhoods stronger, healthier, more resilient keeps me interested. No one who works in community development–as a developer, an organizer, or a lender or investor–can honestly say “they’ve seen it all.” I’ve seen a lot of unusual circumstances in my five years at NeighborWorks Capital and in the 15 years prior as a consultant and at Century Housing, but I have definitely not seen it all. At least every week when we talk with borrowers and other stakeholders, we hear about a specific problem they’re facing that forces us to really rack our brains to work out a solution. Sometimes we can’t, but when we can I’m thankful for the great NeighborWorks Capital team, and the resources we have that allow us to apply creative and flexible solutions to borrowers’ challenges.
What is your personal mission? How does your work with NeighborWorks Capital advance that?
Much of the world of finance is about efficiency and commodification and highly-standardized processes – think securitized car loans, or investing in a 401k – that have allowed financial markets to grow to enormous levels. Community Development Finance is the opposite — highly-localized and responding to circumstances that “the market” does not want to deal with — it has to be personalized, creative and flexible. My personal mission is to be a flexible lender, using the freedom of the financial resources we have at NeighborWorks Capital to craft solutions that other lenders cannot provide. That could be an unsecured loan to a developer for “equity” financing behind a GSE loan; or a $50,000 short-term debt service reserve instead of reducing a permanent loan by $500,000; or a $1.3 million, 5-year predevelopment loan for a multiphase historic mill redevelopment.
As an organization, NeighborWorks Capital has worked hard to make sure our capital resources give us maximum flexibility. I’m not (always) interested in making the largest loans–I want our team to make the loans that best fit the project and create the most impact.
What’s your proudest accomplishment at NeighborWorks Capital?
When I started with NeighborWorks Capital in 2016, we had a smaller team and closed fewer loans. I’m proud to have built a team of loan officers and loan closers that have doubled the number and dollar amount of loans we can close ($60 million in 2019), supporting our Strategic Plan goals of growing our outputs and impacts. I’ve learned a lot from all of them.