Leadership Profile: Jim Rieker
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Posted by: Dora Grace
Each month we profile a member volunteer who has demonstrated outstanding support for Housing Colorado's mission, either by serving on a committee or contributing their time and energy in other ways.
Jim Rieker is responsible for helping developers, federal equity investors and lending partners finance and develop affordable housing projects across five states. As a vice president in the state tax credit syndication department at Advantage Capital, Jim helps to develop new business and finance housing in communities underserved by traditional sources of capital – some of those same communities Advantage Capital has been investing in since 1992 – and helping to transform local neighborhoods and economies. Prior to joining Advantage Capital, Mr. Rieker served as founder, president and CEO of Midwest Housing Equity Group Inc., a regional tax credit syndicator. Before that, he was assistant housing director at the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, specializing in affordable housing and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. During his career, Mr. Rieker has directed business development efforts in the Midwest and Southeast, cultivated LIHTC loan programs and led operations at a regional tax credit syndicator in the Southeastern United States. Mr. Rieker received his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He has been actively engaged in various housing and homeless groups throughout his career.
How did you end up working in affordable housing? I stumbled into it just out of college and have been working in the industry ever since. I was working for a construction company that went bankrupt and through a friend, I found a job at the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority (NIFA). During my stay at NIFA, the Low-Income Housing Credit Program was created and I was charged with getting Nebraska’s program up and running. Since then, I have always worked within the affordable housing industry, and with the LIHTC program.
What do you enjoy most about your job? I enjoy working with people—the people that put the deals together, the people we serve in low-income communities and the people who help to make it all happen. Seeing a deal come together and, most importantly, seeing what we do to help people, makes it all worthwhile.
How did you get involved with Housing Colorado? With the passage of the state affordable housing credit, Advantage Capital became a member of Housing Colorado. Once I joined Advantage, I asked to be involved in Housing Colorado. I saw all the great things that were being done and felt I could make a difference.
How do you currently serve Housing Colorado, and what do you enjoy most about volunteering? I currently sit on the sponsorship committee and the workshop committee for the annual conference. In addition, I work closely with those involved on legislation around the state affordable housing credit. The success of the annual conference and the changes we’ve been able to make on the state affordable housing credit have been fun to see. Great people make great things happen and it has been exciting to be along for the ride.
What are some exciting progressions or projects currently going on in your work? It was exciting to get a five-year extension, versus the normal three years, on the state affordable housing credit in 2018. Now in 2019 we have doubled the size of the program. Two great projects in the Denver area are currently under construction, Tammen Hall and Flats at Two Creeks. Both are unique projects and encompass areas I am passionate about. Tammen Hall is an historic project for elderly residents. Saving historic structures is important to me and the closer I get to senior citizen status, well, the sooner I can move in when a project is complete. The Flats at Two Creeks project, which helps homeless or near homeless veterans, is something I would like to do in every state I work in, over and over again. Following the success we have seen in states like Colorado and others, which have strong affordable housing programs, watch for several potential new states to develop state affordable tax credit programs in 2019. This is particularly exciting because it helps house that many more people in need.
What website(s) do you find useful in your work? For all the states I work in, the Housing Finance Agencies’ websites are key. The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) does a great job with keeping its site current and helpful. I use Housing Colorado to help monitor legislative actions, as well as other state coalitions’ sites. Novogradac’s website has been helpful for data that’s needed when putting together deals. Of course, development team websites are critical when underwriting a deal. There are many others that are equally important in making deals work and bringing people together.
What project, program or undertaking are you most proud of and why? That is a tough one since I’ve been in affordable housing for more than 35 years. In Colorado, the extension and expansion of the state affordable housing credit is one I’m proud to be a part of. A lot of people worked to make that happen. We now have the continuation and expansion of another tool to help house Coloradoans. While not in Colorado, the redevelopment and expansion of the Open Door Mission Campus in Omaha, NE, has been a project I will always cherish. The number of men, women and children the Open Door Mission has helped take off the streets, turn their lives around and become part of the community is tremendous, and it has served as a model for many similar projects around the country. Though it took three years to do the first phase, the second two phases were much easier, and now we’re looking at phases 4 and 5. Being a part of the transformation of so many lives is something I can’t help but be thankful for.
Who has been an instrumental mentor through your career so far, or who do you look up to? My dad, who just turned 95 this spring, has always been an inspiration and taught me how to be a servient leader and hard worker. The lessons he taught me have been invaluable in my career, though even though to this day, he really doesn’t understand exactly what I do. He knows I work to provide people with safe and affordable homes – creating positive and lasting impacts for people and the communities they call home – which is the most important part of my job. Aside from my dad, a former executive director at NIFA was key in my career. I’ve always had a passion for people but he showed me the true value of people we are intended to serve and the difference we can make in their lives. I’ve never looked at affordable housing the same since that valuable lesson. Through his mentorship, while running my own company for 20 years, I coined the phrase, “if we worry about the people we are intended to serve, we will never have to worry about money because it will always be there. However, if we worry about money first, we’ll never have enough.”