Welcome our new Associate Director, Stacy Fox
We’re so excited to introduce Stacy Fox as our new Associate Director. Hear from this double Terrier about her passion for affordable housing in a Q&A.
So you’re from the Boston area?
Yes, I grew up in East Boston and most of my family still lives in the neighborhood. I came to BU for my Bachelor’s degree and majored in Anthropology. When I graduated, I accepted a full-time position at the University and went to graduate school part-time to earn my Masters in City Planning. I’m a double Terrier!
What did you do before coming to the IOC?
When I finished my Masters, I worked for a national nonprofit organization called the Technical Assistance Collaborative, or TAC for short. TAC provides consultation and technical assistance on the issues of affordable and supportive housing for vulnerable populations, including persons experiencing homelessness and persons with disabilities. As an Associate for TAC, I had the opportunity to travel around the country and work with cities to assist them in successfully housing low-income families using a variety of federal resources, including those offered through HUD and the VA. Several of the programs I worked on require communities to build partnerships between housing and healthcare providers, government agencies, and other stakeholders to leverage mainstream resources to address homelessness.
Following TAC, I was a Planner at the Cambridge Housing Authority. My primary responsibility was to manage comprehensive renovations of several multifamily housing developments. Cambridge Housing is in the process of converting its entire portfolio from public housing to project-based rental assistance, primarily through a new HUD program called the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. Through this conversion, housing authorities are able to leverage private financing to rehabilitate aging public housing units. As a planner, I was able to oversee projects from existing conditions and design through construction and permanent financing. In this role, I worked with a range of stakeholders, including architects and designers, engineers, contractors, lenders and investors, local officials, and residents.
Wow, you’ve done so much.
I’ve had a lot of great opportunity. And now I’m here! My focus has obviously been affordable housing, particularly for low-income families, and I really hope to bring that experience to the IOC and contribute to research and other initiatives. I’m excited to think about housing in the larger context of urban governance.
What do you think is the biggest challenge cities are facing today?
I have a bias. While there are many challenges, I believe the stock of affordable housing is a critical issue. Most new construction of multifamily housing serves high-income renters. Affordable housing without a government subsidy is almost impossible, and even low-income households who have rental assistance, such as a Section 8 mobile voucher, cannot find units that meet the federal government’s rent standards – the rents are too high, forcing families to live further from city centers and jobs.
You were traveling a lot for TAC. Is there a particular city that you really enjoyed visiting?
I enjoyed them all. I was fortunate to be able to travel to many great cities, including DC, San Juan, and Atlanta. These cities, and many others, are working hard to end homelessness and some really innovative partnerships and programs are coming from this work. I had the chance to work with New Orleans and Houston, which were two of the first cities in the country to effectively end veteran homelessness. That was exciting.
What’s your favorite thing about Boston?
I love that it is made up of diverse neighborhoods and that each neighborhood has its own character and history.
You’re a double Terrier too, so what’s your favorite thing about BU?
I love BU! As an undergrad, my favorite part was that I continually met new people. It’s also right in the heart of the city, so you’re close to everything. The size and the location, as well as the quality of faculty and students, are huge draws.
If you were Mayor of Boston for a day and had unlimited resources, what program or project would you work on?
That’s a good question. I believe that housing is tied to a person’s access to opportunity. Because of this, I’d try to increase the city’s inclusionary zoning, or the percentage of affordable units that developers must commit to for new construction. Currently, Boston is at 15%, but its neighbor, Cambridge, is at 20%. I’d also try to target a portion of those new units for a lower-income level, specifically for households at 30% of Area Median Income.
What can students and young adults do to get more involved in politics, specifically affordable housing?
Be advocates! There are many ways to get involved. For example, the public can participate in hearings and offer comments on a state’s Qualified Allocation Plan, or the QAP. The QAP is a state’s plan for how it will award tax credits to developers. This is tied to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, which is the federal government’s primary program for encouraging the investment of private funds in the development of affordable rental housing for low-income households. The public is invited to submit comments on their state’s QAP, so being involved in that process is really important to make sure that your interests and your community’s needs are represented.