AHA was founded in 1993 with a clear directive: Rewrite the rules of affordable housing. The new organization was determined to increase the supply of low-income housing by upgrading existing homes and building new ones. All AHA developments would use high-quality materials and, wherever possible, rely on local workers and businesses.
Enacting that mission, though, would be a challenge. With no track record to entice funders, the founding Executive Director and the board of directors had to pay the upfront costs of the first AHA property out of their own pockets. The gamble paid off, and AHA continued to raise its profile over the coming years with successful developments in Berkeley, Oakland, and Walnut Creek. The staff was tiny but tireless, tackling its first new construction project – the celebrated Shattuck Senior Homes – in 1996.
Today, AHA has a staff of 50 and is lead by Susan Friedland, an Executive Director with 20 years of experience in affordable housing development. Included in this new expanded staff are a growing number of top industry professionals, attracted to AHA for its entrepreneurial drive and compassionate mission. AHA is now recognized for its committment to the housing underserved special populations like former foster youth and for its focus on high quality design and green building.
According to Susan, "affordable housing is the basic building block for transforming the lives of individuals and families." With Susan’s leadership dedicated to the founding principals of the organization, AHA is poised to continue to grow and to transform the lives of more individuals and families.