SOURCE: Greenberg Traurig

February 01, 2007 13:09 ET

ULI Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing Targets South Florida for Pilot Project on Affordable Housing Solutions

Greenberg Traurig Shareholder Debbie Orshefsky to Lead the Local Effort for ULI

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 1, 2007 -- A newly formed organization to tackle the nation's severe lack of workforce housing will initially focus its attention on Southeast Florida and two other regions, that are all in desperate need of more affordable housing supply. The Urban Land Institute announced that former chairman J. Ronald Terwilliger has committed $5 million dollars for the creation of the ULI Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing. Recently named Chair of the ULI Southeast Florida/Caribbean District Council, Debbie M. Orshefsky, a shareholder in the international law firm of Greenberg Traurig, will spearhead the Center's efforts to create more affordable housing in Southeast Florida. She was one of three ULI District Council Chairs who spoke at a news conference in Washington D.C. today announcing the ULI Terwilliger Center. The other cities in the pilot program are Washington D.C. and Atlanta.

According to Terwilliger, current chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based Trammel Crow Residential, the three targeted regions all have families with incomes between $20,000 and 50,000 who spend 60% of their incomes on housing and transportation costs.

"A huge number of fully-employed people -- service workers, office personnel, teachers, police officers, hospital workers, firefighters, municipal workers, low- to mid-level management -- are getting squeezed by the housing crunch," said Terwilliger. "They need to be able to live closer to where they work. Those who serve their communities should be embraced by their communities, not shut out. The shortage of workforce housing is compromising the economic well-being of our cities. I see this center as helping to change this pattern in a way that benefits both workers and communities," he said.

In each of the pilot markets, the Center will develop a plan to increase the production of mixed-income housing over a specified time period; expand available project financing where necessary; and support developers in completing projects. Currently, it is anticipated that the Center will foster the construction of at least 3,500 units of new workforce housing in the three target cities within five years.

The workforce housing provided through the center will generally be oriented toward people making between 60 percent and 120 percent of the median income for the targeted market, with the rest offered at market rates.

Orshefsky, a prominent land use attorney and long time advocate for affordable housing and transportation solutions thinks the Center can make a difference.

"Our initiative will focus on identifying best practices currently being used to facilitate the production of workforce housing and see how they can be applied in South Florida, as well exploring innovative solutions to this housing crisis," said Orshefsky. " There have to be ways to increase the stock of workforce housing," she said. "Greater flexibility in land use regulation will certainly be a part of the solution, along with creative financing techniques. "

Orshefsky is a shareholder in the Fort Lauderdale office of Greenberg Traurig and is Chair of the firm's National Land Development Practice Group. Her practice is exclusively in the areas of land development and environmental law. Orshefsky's specialization in land development and environmental law has given her extensive experience in comprehensive planning, zoning, subdivision controls, community redevelopment, infrastructure planning and financing, as well as state, regional and local roles in land use decision-making.

Orshefsky is a longstanding member of Urban Land Institute and has been a member of the Executive Committee of the ULI Southeast/Caribbean District Council since 2002. Besides serving as Chair of the District Council, Orshefsky will also work closely with the District Council's newly formed Workforce Housing working group.

To educate the South Florida public on affordable housing issues, and help change public policy, Orshefsky says the Center will partner will local and regional organizations, including chambers of commerce, employer organizations, home builder organizations and housing advocacy groups. The Center will publish best practices, organize conferences, provide technical support to for-profit and not-for-profit companies and governmental entities developing mixed income workforce housing.

About Greenberg Traurig, LLP:

Greenberg Traurig, LLP is an international, full-service law firm with 1,600 attorneys and governmental affairs professionals in the U.S., Europe and Asia. The firm is ranked seventh on The American Lawyer's Am Law 100 listing of the largest law firms in the U.S., based on number of lawyers. Greenberg Traurig serves clients from offices in: Albany, NY; Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Atlanta, GA; Boca Raton, FL; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Houston, TX; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Morristown, NJ; New York, NY; Orange County, CA; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Sacramento, CA; Silicon Valley, CA; Tallahassee, FL; Tampa Bay, FL; Tokyo, Japan; Tysons Corner, VA; Washington, D.C.; West Palm Beach, FL; Wilmington, DE; and Zurich, Switzerland. Additionally, the firm has strategic alliances with the following independent law firms: Olswang, London, and Brussels; Studio Santa Maria, Milan and Rome; and Hayabusa Kokusai Law Offices in Tokyo.

About the Urban Land Institute:The Urban Land Institute ( is a global nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has more than 34,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.

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