United Housing Management Boston MA

For Immediate Release

April 2015

Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools® Coming to Boston
United Housing Management, LLC will sponsor the nationally recognized program

Boston, April 2, 2015: United Housing Management's Neighborhood Network Center in Dorchester has been selected to host the first Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program in Boston – one of three in Massachusetts. As a site sponsor, the Neighborhood Network Center becomes a member of the network of organizations across the country utilizing Children's Defense Fund's innovative youth summer learning model. The framework is built around the theme: I can and must make a difference in myself, my family, my community, my country and my world. From July 6 – August 14, 2015, the program will serve fifty families living in and around United Housing Management properties. The Neighborhood Network Center CDF Freedom Schools site will be located at Christian Science Church 33 Elm Hill Ave. Dorchester, MA.

Since 1995, over 125,000 children and families have been touched by the CDF Freedom Schools program experience. In summer 2014, CDF Freedom Schools sponsor partners served over 12,700 children in 107 cities, 28 states and Washington, D.C. The program, modeled closely after the Freedom Schools of the 1960's , focuses on promoting the love of reading, cultural enrichment, and community engagement through an integrated reading curriculum. The model has garnered accolades from the likes of Dr. Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, and current US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.

Otis Gates, one of the eight founding partners and Chief Financial Officer at United Housing Management, is looking forward to launch of the program. "At United Housing Management, we focus on providing programming and services for our residents and neighbors that will improve the quality of their lives now and in the future. Becoming a CDF Freedom Schools sponsor supports our commitment to this community's youth and their families." Gates remarked.

Applications are available at the Neighborhood Network Center, 402 B Blue Hill Avenue, until April 10, 2015.

For additional information, contact Cathy Draine, UHM Resident Services Coordinator/Neighborhood Network Center CDF Freedom Schools Executive Director: cdraine@uhmgt.com.

United Housing Management, LLC provides professional property management services. Founded in 2003, the Dorchester based company currently manages a portfolio of over 1700 units throughout greater Boston.

Children's Defense Fund, headquartered in Washington, DC, is one of the leading children's advocacy organizations in the United States.

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Bay State Banner United Housing Article

Management firm United Housing Management improves housing, lives in Grove Hall

Yawu Miller | 12/11/2013

United Housing Management Boston
Gathered at the Quincy Heights development on Quincy Street in Dorchester are (l-r) John Strodder, general manager of United Housing Management, Jeanne Dubois, executive director of the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, Otis Gates, UHM chief financial officer, Patricia Farr, UHM director of human resources, Kevin Bynoe, UHM senior portfolio manager; (foreground) Sheila Harper, UHM director of compliance and training. PHOTO BY DON WEST

Ten years ago, Otis Gates and John Strodder bought a piece of Longbay Management’s portfolio, taking over management contracts for 721 units of housing in Roxbury and Dorchester and hiring 31 employees to manage and administer services.

Now, with twice as many employees and nearly three times the number of units, United Housing Management has become one of the largest black-owned businesses in Boston, collecting $23 million in rents annually.

In the competitive world of property management, dominated by established, well-connected giants like Maloney Properties, Winn Management and Peabody Properties, United Housing has managed to grow and thrive, all the while expanding business opportunities for black, Latino and Asian subcontractors.

Gates and Strodder say their aim in launching the company 10 years ago was as much about creating jobs as it was about improving the community’s housing stock.

“It’s extremely important for the health of the community to have jobs,” Gates says.

Last year, UHM spent $2.4 million of its subcontractor dollars with minority firms, a figure on par with many of the state’s largest property managers with substantially larger portfolios.

UHM’s spending with minority contractors accounted for 74 percent of it contracts. In contrast, MassHousing, the state’s quasi-governmental affordable housing bank, spent 19 percent of its $199 million in contracts for goods and services on minority firms.

The fact that the majority of the suppliers, landscapers, lawyers, accountants, building contractors and building cleaners UHM does business with live and work in the same communities as their tenants helps build the economy of the Grove Hall neighborhood where they own and manage properties, according to Gates.

Gates, who grew up on Wabeno St., a stone’s throw from the UHM office on Warren St., has seen Grove Hall come through tough times — riots and Urban Renewal in the 1960s, arson in the ‘60s and ‘70s and the long, steady decline of urban disinvestment that afflicted inner cities throughout the United States in the latter half of the 20th century.

The housing managed by UHM is among those that have been the most problematic over the last few decades — the rows of three-story brick apartment buildings that line the major thoroughfares and sides streets of Grove Hall.

Gone are the days when graffiti, litter and the visual reminders of delayed maintenance dominated the streetscapes. Under UHM management, the facades and entryways of the buildings remain clean and free of debris.

“I’ve seen the neighborhood improve,” Gates says. “The entire section, from Warren St. going up Elm Hill Ave. has moved in a positive direction.”

Along with solid brick facades, the buildings have what real estate professionals call “good bones,” sturdy early 20th century construction, hardwood floors and steel-reinforced stairways.

“There are a lot of poor people packed into one place. Along with that there are social problems that come with it,” Gates says.

In addition to maintaining housing stock, UHM administers services in several community centers located in and around its units — after school programs for children, adult basic education, job coaching. UHM funds the programming from its own budget and from grants staff members are able to raise.

“We make referrals to social service agencies to help residents, whether they need help paying rent, help with substance abuse or other issues,” Gates says.

UHM’s investment in the properties goes beyond housing management and resident services; they own a third of the buildings they manage — more than 700 units of housing. Among their most recent acquisitions is Roxbury Hills, a collection of wood-frame townhouses on Harold and Brookledge streets.

UHM is currently investing $2.5 million to rehabilitate the units, replacing roofs, windows, doors and adding insulation and new siding.

The largest redevelopment project UHM is undertaking is a 129-unit building complex about a mile to the east at Quincy and Magnolia streets. UHM sold the development to Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation and partnered with the CDC and the Quincy Geneva Community Development Corporation on the $51 million project. When the construction is completed, UHM will continue to serve as the management company for the 129 units in the new Quincy Heights development.

The redevelopment project is part of UHM’s ongoing efforts to improve the housing stock in their area.

“The existing units did not meet code requirements,” Strodder says of the Quincy heights project. “We had two-bedroom units that were barely 700 square feet.”

With investments in the housing stock, residents and businesses in and around the Grove Hall Neighborhood, UHM has grown considerably in the last 10 years. The investments are returns that are measured in more than dollars and cents, according to Gates.

“We feel that these approaches make a major contribution toward stabilizing our community,” he says.

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Spring 2013 Community Breakfast Forum
"Creating Successful Partnerships in Community Building"

Creating Successful Partnerships in Community Building Highlighted on Urban Update

Photos From 2013 10th Anniversary Celebration

United Housing Management
Pictured Left to right: John Strodder, -Sheila Harper, Otis Gates, Pat Farr and Compton Jones of United Housing Management

United Housing Management
Pictured Left to right: Jeanne Dubois, Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation,
Ceasar McDowell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sheila Dillon, Boston Department of Neighborhood Development, and Otis Gates of United Housing Management, LLC.

United Housing Management
Pictured left to right: Ceasar McDowell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Sheila Dillon, Department of Neighborhood Development.

United Housing Management Discussion on Urban Update

UnitedHousing.com is a website that offers information about United Housing Management's work and services in Greater Boston Communities and its role in helping to sustain the community's growth. This video copyrighted by WHDH offers information for educational purposes only. Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching...

An engine for community development United Housing Management is achieving its goals of increasing affordable housing and creating jobs

by Howard Manly
United Housing Management Partners
Those were dark days in 2002, back when start-up United Housing Management LLC (UHM) purchased a significant portion of the affordable housing portfolio owned by Long Bay Management Co.

As UHM General Manager John Strodder and UHM Chief Financial Officer Otis Gates recalled, they were working in a basement with no windows and could only pray that they too would have a place of their own.

The senior management team of United Housing Management LLC includes: (from l to r, in rear) Robert Gundersen, general counsel; Kevin Bynoe, regional manager; John Strodder, general manager; Otis Gates, chief financial officer; and James Marchione, controller. In the front row (from l to r) are: Patricia Farr, director of human resources; Compton Jones, director of maintenance; and Sheila Harper, director of compliance. (Sandra Nunley photo)

Bay State Banner News United Housing ManagementThat changed in 2007 when the company bought and renovated a two-story building on Warren Street near the Charles Street AME Church in Roxbury. “That was major turning point,” Strodder said.

Indeed it was. UHM’s housing portfolio has steadily grown from about 720 units to about 1,400 and it has more than doubled its staff to 62 employees. More important, it is quietly achieving one of its primary goals — hiring minorities and contracting with minority- and women-owned firms.

“This is an organization that is committed to the economic development of the community,” Gates said. “From the beginning, we have wanted to become an economic engine.”

According to the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency (MassHousing), UHM has far surpassed the diversity goals of the state agency and the numbers attained by larger property management companies. In recent annual reports, MassHousing analyzed the percentage of contracts awarded to minority- and women-owned businesses by property management companies running 75 of the state agency’s affordable housing in Roxbury and Dorchester.

In 2009, for instance, MassHousing estimated that about $27 million was available to pay for such contracts that range from everything from architectural services and accounting to painting and building maintenance. The agency has set a diversity goal of 50 percent.

In 2009, UHM hired 69.9 percent MBEs and 27.6 WBEs. In 2010, those numbers were 74.7 percent MBEs and 28.7 WBEs.

On average, MassHousing reported, the overall average in 2009 was 43 percent for MBEs and 20.2 percent for WBEs. A few companies were substantially lower. Winn Residential hired 32 percent MBEs and 18.7 WBEs. Last year, at 43.2 percent MBEs and 20.5 percent WBEs, Winn improved, but still fell short of MassHousing goals.

Both Strodder and Gates estimate that if other property management companies matched UHM numbers, an additional $7 million would have gone to minority- and women-owned firms — and would have helped create as many as 550 new jobs.

“Most of these properties are owned by nonprofits and community development corporations,” Gates explained. “Even though they are required to have local people on their governing boards, they don’t recognize the importance of economic development and creating jobs. It’s a priority for us.”

That priority starts within UHM. Of its eight owners, all of whom work at the company, six are minorities. Ninety-one percent of all UHM employees are minorities and 63 percent live in Boston. “All of us have a real stake in the success of our company,” Gates said.

Their primary goal is to grow as a property management company by increasing their affordable housing portfolio throughout the city and state and possibly competing in the commercial property market.

As it is now, their portfolio includes such properties as the Blue Mountain Apartments in Dorchester and the VBC Apartments on Blue Hill Avenue in Boston. They also manage the 36 duplex homes in Roxbury called the Brook Avenue Cooperative and the 26 units in the Highland Park development owned by the Boston Housing Authority.

Affordable housing is clearly their niche, and each of their owners has a wealth of experience in the field.

Strodder is just one example. A 1979 graduate of University of Massachusetts, Strodder began his career in housing management with the National Corporation Housing Partnership. He joined Long Bay Management in 1987 as director of operations. By 1996, he was general manager overseeing a portfolio of 1,400 units and 100,000 square feet of commercial and retail space.

Gates is another. A graduate of both Harvard and Harvard Business School, Gates grew up in Roxbury and began his financial management career with Arthur Andersen consulting, becoming a partner in 1976. His first work as a real estate developer began in the 1980s when he developed Concord Place, a 55,000 square foot historic office and retail space in downtown Framingham.

Their work is difficult and goes way beyond the collection of rent. The paperwork alone is tedious and includes never-ending filings with the Internal Revenue Service, MassHousing, and various other state and city agencies. Security is an on-going issue; as is building maintenance. To meet those needs, UHM has 22 people on staff to answer service calls at any time.

“We are committed to making sure that all of our buildings are safe, secure and properly maintained,” Gates said.

They are also focused on the tenants. According to Strodder and Gates, they try to include residents in a “meaningful way” in all property management decisions and stress individual responsibility to insure “a sense of community.”

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The Resident Services Division & Neighborhood Network Center of United Housing Management provides an array of services to UHM residents and the Grove Hall community at large. The primary mission is to enhance the quality of life for our residents by delivering services that nurtures self-sufficiency and community stabilization...READ MORE

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United Housing Management, LLC
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530 Warren Street l Dorchester, MA 02121
Phone: 617-541-5510
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