Employee Spotlight: Q&A with Charlie Dirac, Development Director
You have a lot of experience in the affordable housing industry. How did you get your start?
When I initially came to Boston in 2008, I was looking into roles in the life sciences industry, and thinking about medical school (Charlie has a degree in Neuroscience from St. Lawrence University). I had the opportunity to sit down with folks at Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) in Boston, and its mission really resonated with me. I thought, “let’s give it a shot,” when they offered me a position. I wanted to see where it would take me. Nearly twelve years later, here we are.
What are some of the notable trends that you see in the affordable housing industry?
As someone who’s been in the affordable housing industry for a long time – I’ve seen a lot of the housing buzz words increase in the news and media. In the political realm, in particular, terms like “affordable housing” and “housing crisis” have become an important part of candidates’ platforms, so people have become more aware of the issues. Housing used to be a backburner issue and now it’s front and center.
You worked in housing advocacy for a long time. What are the differences/similarities you see now that you’re on the private sector side of the industry?
I think it’s more about similarities. While I was interviewing for this role, I was caught off guard by Dakota Partners’ commitment to create affordable housing within workforce communities. I didn’t expect it to be a priority. It’s a different business model (from POAH) but the same approach: to find quality housing options for middle and lower income families.
What has been your top priority at Dakota in your first few months on the job?
Giving the two projects I’m working on – Depot Village in Hanson, MA and Brady Square in Richmond, VA – the attention they need and deserve. I am overseeing all of the project management, and all of the little things required for the successful closings of these two projects. I am grateful to the Dakota team for teeing things up on these two projects before I arrived!
Anything else you would like readers to know about you?
I’m really passionate about low and middle-income housing opportunities. While I was at a housing non-profit for many years, ultimately, the mission [at Dakota] is the same: to find housing for people who would otherwise be priced out of communities.
Most importantly, I’m the proud father of two-year old and six-month old boys! Keeping up with them is how I spend most of my free time.