Longtime affordable housing expert Diane Johnson has joined New Community as a consultant, a move aimed at strengthening NCC’s real estate portfolio.
Formerly the director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Newark Field Office, Johnson brings a wealth of experience with more than four decades as a public servant dedicated to promoting community development and housing programs.
“We are thrilled to work with someone of Diane Johnson’s stature and distinction in the realm of housing and community development. New Community’s heartbeat has always been providing safe, decent and affordable housing, and no one better understands the work involved in making that reality happen than Diane,” said Richard Rohrman, CEO of New Community. Johnson will be working closely with Rohrman and Douglas Angoff, NCC’s director of real estate, who also serves as corporation counsel.
As New Jersey’s highest-ranking federal housing official, Johnson managed $1.7 billion in annual HUD allocations that provided rental assistance for low-income residents through public housing programs, including Section 8.
A staunch advocate of affordable housing, Johnson crossed paths early on with Monsignor William J. Linder, New Community’s board chairman and founder, who established NCC with a small group of community-minded citizens in 1968, in the wake of the civil disorders that tore through Newark’s Central Ward a year earlier.
“Generally when someone comes to visit from Washington (D.C.), I start my tour on the block where the riots start and I look to my left and begin to tell the story of New Community and how they started changing, transforming the face of the Central Ward,” Johnson said while serving as director of HUD’s Newark Field Office, in NCC’s 45th anniversary video.
Johnson had interacted with Monsignor since the late 1980s and herself witnessed the growth and impact of NCC. “I got an opportunity to see not only the housing portion of New Community but also how they integrated social services to help families that were residing in their units,” she said in an interview.
With federal funding drying up and money from the state allocated to rebuilding areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy, Johnson said the main challenge facing affordable housing providers is finding new investors to finance development, including the renovation of older buildings.
“After so many years, the properties need an infusion of cash,” she said.
In addition to working with Rohrman and Angoff on NCC’s real estate portfolio, Johnson will connect with individuals from the public and private sectors to support NCC’s development efforts and overall mission.
A lifelong New Jersey resident, Johnson retired from HUD Dec. 31, 2013. She also served as chief of staff under acting Newark Mayor Luis Quintana from Jan. 1, 2014 to July 1, 2014.