Heidi Burkhart has been an advocate for affordable housing for more than 12 years, eventually starting her own firm that specializes in assisting in the trades of publicly and privately owned residential complexes. Having once lived in a rent-stabilized apartment, she is now helping to bring voice and support to others in need.
“Affordable housing is a hot topic, but without funding there will never be enough housing to fill the need,” says Burkhart, president of Dane Professional Consulting Group in New York City. “It doesn't get the attention of other health issues like birth control or health insurance, so the public needs to join together to bring a louder voice.”
When Burkhart first moved to New York City, she was fortunate to find affordable housing. It provided her with the opportunity to live in the city and learn more about the affordable housing industry. Burkhart soon realized multiple affordable housing options are found throughout New York City's five boroughs.
One of her biggest challenges has been educating others about what comprises affordable housing. The categories include mixed income housing developments; middle income properties; military housing for vets; shelters for the homeless and domestic violence victims; homes for single mothers and their children; and retirement facilities.
“Affordable housing is more than what many consider as just the projects,” Burkhart says. “It creates a home for many deserving people and families with limited resources, and it also creates hope and a means for a person or family to improve their lives.”
Burkhart is currently looking to develop a greater number of large scale ground-up housing in the New York City metro. Finding equity partners who finance transactions of this size has been a struggle, but Burkhart welcomes the challenge.
“The American Dream has always been to own your own home, but I would argue that it starts with simply being able to have a roof over our heads,” Burkhart says. “As I work to develop more mixed income and mixed-use properties, I'm also hoping to make a difference in the lives of a few people.”
Burkhart foresees the demand to rehabilitate or build new developments rising. As the supply of public funding to support the demand is never enough, Burkhart vows to be more vocal in ensuring increased funding and helping others find safe shelter.