“The issue of affordability has multiple implications for people that traps them in a cycle of poverty. We need a more comprehensive approach to battle poverty and provide affordable housing.” --Jermaine Ruffin
Jermaine Ruffin is currently a development outreach coordinator for affordable housing projects with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Jermaine works with communities to identify sites, financing and community partnerships for low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) and workforce housing. He is also the founding principal of JR2 Urban Solutions where he is developing strategies for effective community engagement plans for underserved populations as well as an upcoming podcast series that discusses urban planning issues in communities of color. In addition, Jermaine was recently voted to the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis’ Affordable Housing Council, is an active Ambassador for the American Planning Association (APA) and member of several national/state community and economic development organizations. Jermaine holds a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the University of Michigan where he was co-founder of the Planning for Inclusion Initiative.
Here’s more from our Q&A with Jermaine …
Q: Which ACSP member school did you attend?
A: University of Michigan
Q: What specialty did you study?
A: Housing, Community and Economic Development
Q: Why did you select your particular specialty?
A: My previous experience had been in Affordable Housing and Community Development, so I was looking for a program that would enhance my skill-set and I found that at U of M.
Q: Where do you currently work?
A: Michigan State Housing Development Authority
Q: What are your job responsibilities?
A: I am responsible for primary contact with municipalities, developers, philanthropic, and non-profit partners who are seeking use LIHTC to bring affordable or workforce housing to their community. I also conduct market research and site selection reviews.
Q: What's your favorite project you’ve worked on?
A: In my career, I've worked on a ton of cool projects! I am most proud of my work with the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, where we reduced blight structures and replaced many vacant lots with new single family homes for hundreds of families in cities in Michigan.
Q: What future goals do you have in your field?
A: My goal is to find a sustainable and cost-effective way to significantly increase affordable housing solutions across the state of Michigan, which can be a model for national change.
Q: How has planning school changed your daily habits?
A: It broadened the scope in which I view and approach solutions for the challenges I face in my work. I also developed a keen sense for the prioritization of my daily work that has strengthened my ability to complete projects in a timely fashion.
Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A: I wanted to be the world’s first Fireman, NFL player, and Lawyer combo!
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
A: I have a fascination with Latin America and the Caribbean. I studied the culture and history earning a specialization during undergrad. If I had the time and money I would travel to each country and island, extensively.
Q: What is the title of the last book you read? What did you learn from it?
A: Evicted by Matthew Desmond was the last book that I read. I learned that the issue of affordability has multiple implications for people that traps them in a cycle of poverty. We need a more comprehensive approach to battle poverty and provide affordable housing.
Click here to read more about planning careers in the ACSP Planner Profile series.