Mountainlands Community Housing Trust has a new executive director
David Levine worked in affordable housing in affluent Fairfax County, Virginia, for nearly a decade
David Levine, the new Mountainlands Community Housing Trust executive director, has been on the job for about a week, but the Park City area already feels familiar to him.
Though he’s made frequent trips to Summit County over the last two decades to take advantage of its recreation opportunities, Levine also has experience working in Fairfax County, Virginia, which he characterized as an affluent community dealing with the impacts of high growth amid the need to house its low- and middle-income population.
“Where I worked sort of had the same profile as what I find here in Park City,” he said. “Fairfax County is one of the wealthiest counties in the country, but it also has this need, particularly among the workforce, for affordable housing. Coming to Park City, and to Summit County, feels very familiar in a lot of ways.”
Levine looks to the strong legacy Mountainlands Community Housing Trust and his predecessor Pat Matheson, who left the position to join his family’s education business in the Democratic Republic of Congo, have built as he helps the nonprofit work toward its mission of increasing the availability of affordable homes amid the housing crisis in the Wasatch Back.
Before moving to Park City, Levine spent nine years as the executive director of Good Shepherd Housing. The organization is focused on reducing homelessness, increasing community support and providing self-sufficiency.
Levine helped Good Shepherd Housing grow its housing portfolio by 50% and upon his departure, there was a partnership in place to create 120 units of affordable housing at one site, which he said would have a tremendous impact in the area.
He also built community partnerships that helped secure support for the organization’s mission. Levine said these relationships are key to providing a foundation for an agency to move forward by sustaining its mission.
Levine in his last year at Good Shepherd Housing secured a $2 million award from Amazon to help acquire 18 workforce housing units restricted to low- and moderate-income households. He pointed to this as an example of corporate support and recognition from Amazon addressing the community’s housing needs as the tech company readies its second headquarters, which is projected to have 20,000 employees, in northern Virginia.
The new Mountainlands Community Housing Trust director plans to utilize his fundraising and networking skills to connect with partners and financial resources, and help the nonprofit create and preserve affordable housing locally while advancing its mission.
Bob Richer, the president of the Mountainlands Community Housing Trust Board of Trustees, in a statement expressed support for the hiring of Levine.
“David brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our organization at a pivotal moment,” Richer said. “He will build on decades of success achieved by Mountainlands’ staff who were and continue to be committed to the belief that affordable and accessible housing is foundational to the health and happiness of individuals, families and communities.”
Levine praised Park City and Summit County leaders, as well as the nonprofit, for their strong commitment to affordable housing, particularly in the variety of units available. He said advocates have been focused on diverse options to help a wide range of people live in the community.
“I think that really is key because it’s important to always create affordable homeownership opportunities, affordable rental opportunities, wherever you can, because that spans the whole spectrum of affordable housing needs,” Levine said, indicating the strategy is unusual. “People have needs not only for homes, but for rentals, and I think it’s important to keep that in mind.”
The variety is also important to help keep developments scattered, rather than concentrated in one area, so they integrate better into an area, and for helping to diversify a community and address the misconception that affordable housing developments concentrate poverty.
There’s also a myth that affordable housing is only for low-income people. While there are projects to address those needs, Levine said, there is also an effort to create affordable home ownership for middle-class families as costs continue to rise.
He emphasized the importance of earning buy-in from the community to ensure everyone has the same understanding of what type of affordable housing is being proposed and who it’s for.
NIMBYism exists everywhere, Levine said, but over time people might change their perspectives through direct conversations and learning about the need. And he plans to do just that through his work at Mountainlands Community Housing Trust.
“Affordable housing really gives people a chance to create greater self-sufficiency in their own lives,” Levine said. “You take away that need, you take away that worry that many families have around having a secure roof over their head, and they can focus on their other needs. And that really does help to transform lives.”
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