Affordable Housing Institute

Improving housing ecosystems worldwide

aka A.H.I.   |   Boston, MA   |


AHI is a USA-based global non-profit providing housing finance expertise and thought leadership to organizations working to make housing accessible to low-income people.
Our mission is to help pro-poor innovators build healthy housing ecosystems worldwide, with an emphasis on the Global South.
As a housing finance policy/program innovator, AHI integrates existing knowledge of housing finance system and works with change-makers to develop and implement a customized solution responsive to particular local conditions as to generate real impact. 
We do this through Research that inspires practical and actionable outcomes, Education and Consulting that leads to both local innovation and transferable models.

Ruling year info


Founder and CEO

Mr. David Smith

Co Principal Officer

Mrs. Anya Brickman-Raredon

Main address

10 High Street Suite 501

Boston, MA 02110 USA

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NTEE code info

Urban, Community (S31)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (L05)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (Q05)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Over 2 billion people will move to cities by 2030, and most of them will live in slums. The rapid urbanization of the Global South brings the issue of quality, affordable housing to the forefront of global concerns today. Chronically underperforming housing systems cannot keep up with the demand, driven by the pace of household formation, obsolescence of buildings, and land scarcity. In many cities around the world, these housing shortages are addressed by the informal sector, leading to the proliferation of slums in and around the formal city. Residents of slums often live in overcrowded, unsanitary, and dangerous conditions. They live under the perpetual threat of eviction, overlooked by public authorities and private investors.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Charlestown Residence Alliance Financial Advisors

AHI is the fiscal agents and advisors to the Charlestown Residents Alliance (CRA), a Boston Housing Authority certified Local Tenants Organization. The CRA is a non-profit whose board is comprised of residents of the Bunker Hill public housing development. AHI provides the CRA practically pro-bono consulting services while the current 1,110 units of affordable housing undergo a redevelopment to become a 2,800+ mixed-income multi-family development.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

The Rehousing Ukraine Initiative is the brainchild of AHI CEO David Smith, and Derek Long, a veteran of UK’s national housing programmes based in Rainhill, the birthplace of railways. What started as a series of conferences has evolved and is now aiming to provide timely and implementable advise to the government of Ukraine to ease the rebuilding and recovery of the country after the war.

Housing is the key. Decent, affordable housing can be the foundation for a faster economic and social recovery, and the springboard for a resurgent and modern Ukraine. We are working with Ukrainian experts from Integrites, Kyiv School of Economics, CEDOS, and Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute; we welcome other experts to join us. For benefit of Ukraine’s Ministry of Communities and Territories Development, we will offer issue-specific insights, experiences, options and suggestions for action that start from Ukraine’s current context and add experience of multiple countries facing comparable issu

Population(s) Served
Victims of conflict and war
Internally displaced people
Refugees and displaced people

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Affordable housing requires ongoing intervention and collaboration between:

1. Governments, that often want to provide affordable housing for their citizens, but either does not have the resources or do not know how to provide quality housing efficiently;
2. Real estate developers, that may know how to build affordable housing, but don't know how to yield good returns by doing it;
3. Banks, that know how to finance market-rate homes, but not affordable ones;
4. NGOs, that provide housing to underserved populations, but don't know how to do it in a way that is sustainable both in implementation (we can't give everyone a house) and in practice (gifting a house doesn't mean that the people who receive it will be able to maintain or keep it).

However, in many housing systems around the world, these processes are often disjointed and broken. The field urgently needs more research, funding, and innovation.

At AHI, we believe in fixing these systems. We believe in turning slums into assets, and we are committed to transforming the lives of the global urban poor.

AHI tackles housing challenges with the following approach:

We understand housing through an ecosystem lens...

• We approach housing as a complex ecosystem in which there are two value chains: one each on the supply and demand side. People are housed when the output of the supply side (a physical home) meets the output of the demand side (a loan).

• Analyzing these value chains at a country or city level allows us to pinpoint where there are weaknesses and opportunities, and develop targeted solutions that address the total disabling environment.

We harness global best practices to design locally tailored products...

• We have worked in over 25 countries in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. We speak Vietnamese, Arabic, French, Kreyol, Spanish, Hindi, and Korean, among others. We tap into a wide network of on-the-ground associates and retain connections to housing organizations around the world.

• With every project, we look to our international housing experiences for guidance and insight, but expertly tailor our products to the country, municipality, or neighborhood context.

We combine a diversity of technical perspectives and skills...

• Housing, unlike other basic needs, is a highly technical product. Understanding housing means understanding how a house is designed, built, financed, regulated, and subsidized.

• That is why the AHI team is composed of designers, architects, urban planners, real estate developers, development economists, public servants, and investment bankers. We understand housing from start to finish, and we speak the lingo of each discipline with ease. We possess the best of global public and private sector experience in policy, finance, and design. Overall, we work together to provide comprehensive solutions to our clients' needs and the field's most pressing issues.

Over the past decade, AHI has consulted for a diverse set of clients in the housing space: governments, lenders, developers, development finance institutions, philanthropies, and community organizations.

We work with each client to fully understand their needs, develop a scope of work, and continually refine outputs throughout the project. A team of senior technical experts, project managers, and analysts tackle each project with a high level of attention and care, and in the process, seeks to make highly technical concepts clear and understandable.

Though we are constantly exploring new business areas, we are particularly adept at delivering the following services:

• Providing policy analyses and recommendations to national and municipal government entities;
• Engineering new financial products, particularly housing improvement loans;
• Creating and implementing business and capitalization plans;
• Researching housing markets and opportunities;
• Guiding emerging cities in tapping capital markets funding for long-term infrastructure projects (AHI Capital Markets).

A global reputation starts with internally defining clear brand identity, value, and message. One of the struggles of many small organizations—like AHI—is the desire to want to be everything: research institute, consulting firm, and impact investor. As a small organization, we accept nearly all prospective clients, even when projects may not align so well with our mission, our staffing resources, or our core specialty: solving complex housing problems in developing countries. This “existential angst” makes it difficult for both prospective clients as well as staff to understand who AHI is and what we excel at. Going forward, AHI will focus on developing a clear and coherent brand identity that support the message that “AHI is a boutique consulting firm that solves challenging housing-related problems in developing countries.”

Hence, AHI has begun to successfully build a clear identity as a boutique impact consulting firm that solves challenging housing-relating problems in developing country contexts by consistently selecting middle-market and institutional clients who focus on impact delivery. We have updated our website, brochure, and marketing material to deliver this message consistently and clearly across mediums.

Between speaking engagements, high-profile client work (e.g. World Bank, IFC), and other materials, we are sought out for conferences, workshops, interviews, articles, and the like. With this, our challenges are twofold:

• Converting visibility into impact. Visibility should either enable obtainment of impact-generating work, facilitate spreading of thought leadership to inspire trickle-effect impact, or create synergies with other impact-oriented entities which lead to future partnerships.
• Limiting visibility to situations that further revenue-related resources. Parallel to the above idea, visibility should also double as a marketing and business development tool – otherwise, the lost time would fail to bring both impact and revenue.

Additional AHI activities include...

Course Development and Teaching:

• Harvard Business School, John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Graduate School of Design (2008-Present)
• American University of Cairo School of Business - Real Estate Executive Development Program (2011, 2012)
• MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning - Independent Activities Period, Cambridge (2005, 2009)
• University of Maryland School of Public Affairs, Office of Executive Programs - Adjunct Faculty (2000-2008)
• Boulder Institute of Microfinance, Torino, Italy (2008)
• Fannie Mae International Housing Finance Services (IHFS) Group, Washington D.C. (2001-2003)


• And Freeman, Gus. Proceedings of the Gulf Research Meeting Housing Workshop. Gerlach Press. Working draft.
• And Erdik, Mustafa. Urban Disaster Risk and Urban Renewal Strategies: Proceedings of the AHI-Bogazici Symposium. Affordable Housing Institute 2011.


Affordable Housing Institute

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Affordable Housing Institute

Board of directors
as of 11/09/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Timothy Palmer

Charlesbank Capital Partners LLC

David Smith

Affordable Housing Institute

Thomas Bledsoe

Housing Partnership Network

Joseph L. Flatley

Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation

Timothy Palmer

Charlesbank Capital Partners LLC

Catherine Racer

Dept. Housing & Community Development, Massachusetts

Jared Holbrook Ward

Bank of America

Reese Fayde

Reese Fayde and Associates