Columbia Residential has hired Carmen Chubb, a veteran public sector executive, as president to help the developer double the size of its affordable housing development to meet rapidly increasing demand, CEO Jim Grauley said Atlanta Civic Circle.
Columbia, one of Atlanta’s best-known affordable housing developers, owns and manages more than 6,500 mixed-income, below-market multi-family homes within the perimeter of I-285 alone, with a portfolio spanning Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Texas.
But the need for affordable housing is orders of magnitude greater than what’s available as rents continue to rise in Atlanta and elsewhere, Grauley said. “We’re producing as much as anyone else, and we’re still nowhere near what needs to be done,” he said, adding that Columbia has about 45 projects in Metro Atlanta and more are under construction.
The addition of Chubb positions Columbia to significantly expand its presence in the South, Grauley said after the death of its visionary founder and CEO Noel Khalil last fall.
“Carmen will give us the opportunity to really increase the size and scope of what we do because of her skills. It’s going to hit the ground running,” he said, citing her experience navigating the public subsidies that private developers depend on to build affordable housing.
Most recently, Chubb served as chief of staff to former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms after spending 23 years as a top executive—the last seven years as an assistant commissioner—at the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which funds private affordable housing development through tax credits .
“We would like to double our scope,” Grauley said, adding that Chubb’s years of DCA experience will strengthen Columbia’s working relationships with the government agencies that administer affordable housing funding.
“We won’t do that if we stick with the same funding tools we have today,” he warned.
“If you want affordable housing, you need to be subsidized because the cost is basically the same as the cost of housing on the market,” Grauley said, adding that new public funding mechanisms are needed, such as public funding. B. The City’s newly launched Affordable Housing Trust fund program.
Khalil, who founded Columbia in 1991, died in October at the age of 70 after a year-long battle with cancer. His death left some titanic footprints, Grauley said. “When you reflect on the loss of someone who was such an inspirational leader, it redoubles your effort and your intention to fulfill mission — and expand mission,” he said.
Chubb will help Columbia continue Khalil’s vision of “building cathedrals for God’s children,” Grauley said, by building quality housing that low- and middle-income families can afford.
At Columbia, Chubb will oversee new multifamily development, asset management and unit maintenance.
“I chose this job because … as I was contemplating my next steps, it had to be work that moved the needle in community development and affordable housing,” she said Atlanta Civic Circle.
Chubb said creating quality, affordable housing is personal to her. Growing up in Atlanta as the daughter of a single mother with four children, she said her family was constantly concerned about home safety.
“We were blessed to be able to keep our home, but I saw my mom struggle,” she said. “I know the fear of not being able to afford the apartment – or, if you can, how to sacrifice other things.”
Chubb said her top priority at Columbia is to accelerate production of affordable units that are also good places to live. “People deserve to live in places they can be proud of and have access to community amenities like public transportation and good schools.”
Chubb’s government expertise could help Columbia develop more transit-focused projects, such as one of its most recent projects, the Columbia Senior Residences in Decatur East near the Avondale MARTA station.
The mixed-use complex at 590 East Freeman Street already has 92 apartments for people 62 and older. Phase 2, announced in November, will produce an additional 80 units – and 70 of these will be for households with incomes below 60% of the region’s median income and 24 for very low-income households.
Funding for the project depends on a highly competitive federal and state funded 9 percent low-income homeownership tax credit issued by DCA, with additional funding from Decatur.