WASHINGTON, DC - The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) announced on Wednesday that Robert F. Nielsen, a multifamily developer headquartered in Reno, Nevada, has been elected by NAHB members to be their Chairman of the Board for 2011. With more than 800 affiliated state and local home builders associations encompassing in excess of 160,000 members across the country, NAHB is the acknowledged "voice of the housing industry," representing the interests of the nation's housing professionals through advocacy, education and research.
As a founder and President of Shelter Properties, Inc., Nielsen led the effort in his state to create, protect and preserve affordable housing through the use of low-income housing tax credits, tax exempt bonds and other creative financing mechanisms. He pushed changes in state law and housing regulations, without which much affordable housing would not exist today, and was instrumental in the creation of the Nevada Low Income Housing Trust Fund.
During his home building career, Nielsen has developed more than 45 communities housing more than 4,500 families. A long-time advocate for affordable housing, Nielsen is committed to supplying high-quality, affordable "workforce" housing in Reno and Las Vegas. Shelter Properties also builds high-end, conventional, multifamily communities, coincidentally the breeding ground for translating new technology to affordable housing.
Serving as president of the Builders Association of Northern Nevada in 1986 and president of the Nevada Home Builders Association in 1988, Nielsen cut his teeth in industry advocacy early in his career. Following years of intense state and local action, Nielsen took his case for affordable housing to NAHB, the most powerful housing lobby in the country. There, he has been a leader and advocate in NAHB's efforts to strengthen the residential construction industry in good times and bad.
"When I was Director of Multifamily at NAHB, Bob was everywhere!" explains David Cole, COO of Neighborhood Development Collaborative, a national, nonprofit, affordable housing organization. "He was not just fighting the good fight for home builders nationally; he spearheaded the drive to bring multifamily industry issues to national prominence inside and outside of NAHB. He worked with multifamily icon Bob Corletta to create vital certification programs such as Registered in Apartment Management (RAM) and Housing Credit Certified Professional (HCCP), each designed to assure high levels of competency in affordable housing. Bob also headed up the executive leadership team which ultimately created the Housing Credit Group and the Multifamily Leadership Council."
On his rise to the top spot at NAHB, Nielsen chaired the Multifamily Council, the Federal Government Affairs Committee, the Housing Finance Committee and many other committees and subcommittees charged with everything from refining building codes, to fund raising, to planning the International Builders Show. This broad-based experience combined with his consistently open mind gives him the qualities required of a powerful association leader. It is those qualities which will guide the industry to recovery.
Nielsen is firmly engaged in national efforts to strengthen the residential construction industry following the 2008 collapse of the housing market. As a member of the board of directors of the San Francisco Federal Home Loan Bank and a former member of the Fannie Mae National Advisory Council, Nielsen has a unique eye on the world of housing finance which enables him to craft lending and workout solutions in collaboration with banks and regulators to help staunch the industry's hemorrhaging.
"Policymakers and the financial services industry need to understand that you can't paint the building industry with a broad brush," Nielsen said in a recent interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal. "There are many solid projects in vibrant markets that are a good investment right now. The housing industry needs credit for those projects in order to get housing going again as an engine of job growth in America."
Also embedded in his notable career is his role as a founder of the Affordable Housing Resource Council, which offers technical assistance to anyone with an interest in affordable housing, including not-for-profit organizations, for-profit firms, developers, associations and builders. He now serves as a director for Neighborhood Development Collaborative, established in 1978 to create, preserve and protect affordable communities nationwide, and was inducted into the Northern Nevada Housing Hall of Fame in 2005.