Over 30 years ago, LISC launched the Housing Development Training Institute (HDTI) in response to the need for a comprehensive program to develop the skills of affordable housing professionals. Led by affordable housing experts, HDTI provides practical and intensive skill training in affordable housing and works to increase the development capacity of community-based nonprofit development organizations.
Zorica Stančević and William (Bill) Huang bring decades of experience to their roles as HDTI trainers. As Senior Director of Financial Consulting for California Housing Partnership (The Partnership), Zorica leads The Partnership’s training division, providing financial consulting, technical assistance, and training to nonprofit and government clients throughout California. As Director of Housing for the City of Pasadena and a veteran of the affordable housing field, Bill funds a wide array of affordable housing and homeless programs, as well as funding for social service and community development activities.
Zorica and Bill believe that one of the program’s strengths is that it provides opportunities for participants to practice problem-solving through hands-on work simulations. One such exercise, called Mole, happens after participants have learned about appraisals, insight purchase agreements, and negotiations. “The cohort is divided into teams where they are presented with a case study. In the case study, they are Project Managers for their organizations with the task of generating a purchase offer for the case study property,” explained Zorica. “We bring in affordable housing leaders to act as the seller (aka “Mole”). The exercise is a negotiation where each group and the Moles meet and negotiate for the purchase and sale of the case study property. It’s an opportunity for participants to stretch and build their skills in a relationship-building setting within their groups and with affordable housing industry leadership.”
The HDTI curriculum is intentionally designed to build upon itself by allowing participants to apply what they’re learning in their respective workplaces, something both Zorica and Bill think makes the program successful. After an initial week of training, the cohort returns to their workplaces for two to three months before they return to participate in another week of materials that build on the previous curriculum. Then, they once again return to work for another two to three months and come back for the third week of training materials.
Having been with HDTI since its inception, Bill knows that HDTI’s model is unique in that it’s a ‘soup to nuts’ experience. From conceptualizing an affordable housing project, all the way through to getting it approved, financed, built, and then operating it, the program offers a solid, high-level overview of the whole process and an in-depth understanding of the overall affordable housing development process. “The affordable housing industry is complex and requires a lot of commitment and expertise,” he says. “There’s a fair amount of turnover in the industry and so it’s important to always be training the next generation to do the hard work.”
As a graduate of the program herself and now serving as a trainer, Zorica is very passionate about HDTI. “I feel very fortunate that I get to give back to the program because it was so beneficial to me,” said Zorica. “The HDTI program is woven into The Partnership’s mission, and we believe that it is a critical investment in future generations doing this work.”
The HDTI program has prepared over 500 graduates representing 100 community development organizations and has helped increase the supply of affordable housing through the program’s emphasis on production. Thanks to a generous grant from Merritt Community Capital Corporation, LISC is continuing HDTI’s mission and expanding its work to show the importance of having diverse affordable housing professionals.