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Housing

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Deep Green Housing and
Community Development

For our first Tax Exempt Talk blog post, we interviewed Zoe Ellas, Executive Director at Deep Green Housing and Community Development. Zoe has more than fifteen years of experience in nonprofit development finance and nine years of experience in affordable housing and community development work. She is an expert in financial management and communication. Early in her career, she worked as a consultant for the Financial Sector Vice Presidency of the World Bank Group. Zoe earned her B.A. in Economics and French at Drew University and then went on to earn her M.B.A. in Finance at American University’s Kogod School of Business.

Zoe Ellas, Executive Director,


Deep Green Housing and
Community Development
Deep Green Housing and Community Development, formerly known as Beyond Shelter Housing Development Corp., is a 501(c)(3) organization that focuses on sustainable development to provide safe, decent and affordable housing for families, to improve neighborhoods and build community.

Q: Many nonprofits have recently faced funding challenges. How has Deep Green Housing tackled this issue?
A: We have downsized, decreased our overhead and have slowed down the acquisition of new projects. We have also expanded our regular sources of financing to include property management revenue rather than development fees. Deep Green Property Management Services, LLC, the property management affiliate, was created in 2006 to provide cost-conscious, responsive and “green” property management services to Deep Green Housing’s projects, in addition to providing a new revenue stream. This strategy has successfully increased the certainty of funding that can be used for certain recurring operating expenses, such as staffing costs.

Q: In addition to cutting costs, what other changes have you made to survive?
A: All our new developments will be LEED-certified and will include more efficient heating, lighting and ventilation, drought-resistant landscaping, recycled materials, and less construction waste. Even though this will slightly increase our up-front development costs, the organization’s buildings will be cheaper to maintain in the long run, especially where the cost of utilities is the hardest to control. We’ll begin constructing our first LEED-certified building in January 2012.
Q: Has the organization forged any productive new partnerships?
A: Yes, we’ve successfully partnered with for-profit developers to resist the tendency toward developing low-income community housing in cheaper, less urban areas. The organization believes it can best meet the needs of the South Los Angeles community members it serves by improving their existing communities instead of creating new ones. The Central Village Apartments is our first mixed-use project and was created in partnership with an experienced retail developer. Central Village features 85 affordable one-, two- and three-bedroom units above a 45,000 square foot commercial retail center that includes a full-service grocery store, doctor’s offices, subterranean parking, and restaurants.

Despite decreasing government financing for nonprofits, and as a result of Deep Green’s creative building, funding and partnership strategies, we are happy to report that the organization has successfully continued to provide safe, decent and affordable housing for families in the greater Los Angeles area.

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