Katie welcomes ChangeMaker, Robert Graham, to the podcast. Robert is the Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Housing Authority, where he manages about 3,000 affordable housing units throughout St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John.
Robert Graham is the Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Housing Authority (VIHA) and has over three decades of service in the affordable housing industry. Currently, he is leading the implementation of a $1 billion asset repositioning plan to transform over 3,000 units of obsolete public housing in both the St. Thomas/St. John and St. Croix Districts of the Virgin Islands.
Simultaneously, Mr. Graham’s approach to asset repositioning and redevelopment has resulted in an innovative and historic 15-year commitment which ensures a long-term investment in the people residing in each household in excess of $23 million. This significant investment will serve as leverage in the agency’s efforts to raise additional funding necessary for facilitating holistic wellness and generational success for all residents. Along with its new Bright Path Human Transformation Model, Mr. Graham estimates that this comprehensive approach to housing vulnerable individuals and families and improving quality of life is one that has the potential to be replicated by other housing authorities as they embark upon Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) asset repositioning efforts.
Mr. Graham’s thirty years of affordable housing experience has resulted in the successful turn-around of several troubled housing authorities and non-profit entities with underperforming housing portfolios. Throughout his career, Mr. Graham has served in key leadership roles for approximately a dozen housing authorities or non-profits covering several states. He began his housing career in 1990 at the largest housing authority in New Jersey and after twelve years in New Jersey and leading a successful turnaround, Mr. Graham went on to lead the successful turn-around of housing authorities in both Connecticut and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Instrumental to Mr. Graham’s successful leadership is his extensive development experience which has led to the successful redevelopment of several outdated and obsolete units within low-income housing communities, into modern mixed-income affordable housing that we would all be proud of. His extensive work in revitalizing distressed communities has also resulted in multiple faculty positions at several colleges and universities throughout the northeast, including the Institute of Real Estate Management, Baruch College, City University of New York, and the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.
Mr. Graham earned his Master’s degree in Financial Management from New York University’s Stern School of Business and his Bachelor’s degree from Baruch College in New York. A native of South Carolina, Mr. Graham grew up in Brooklyn, New York and is blessed with five grandchildren. He currently resides in St. Thomas, USVI and spends his free time reading and traveling.