Gregory Heller is a practitioner in affordable housing and community reinvestment. He currently holds several roles as Senior VP at Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, and Executive Director of the newly created Philadelphia Accelerator Fund. Previously he consulted for financial institutions, developers, and other clients across the U.S. relating to socially responsible real estate development, and worked on the ground in community development in Philadelphia. In 2015, he presented a talk at TEDx Philadelphia on “how to set up social impact real estate.” Greg is the author of “Ed Bacon: Planning, Politics, and the Building of Modern Philadelphia” a biography of the city’s former planning director and a narrative of midcentury urban development. More
New York Times Features Philadelphia’s Rental Assistance Program
In December 2020, The New York times ran a front-page article by Conor Dougherty about efforts across the country to use federal funds to provide emergency rental assistance. The article featured the work of Greg and his team at PHDC to distribute $60M in funds, including a program to provide cash directly to tenants.
Robert C. Larson Housing Policy Leadership Award
In 2019 the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority won the Urban Land Institute’s national Robert C. Larson Housing Policy Leadership Award for its Land+Credit=Workforce Homeownership program, that combines reduced pricing of public land assets and a credit enhancement to produce “missing-middle” housing without cash subsidy. The annual Larson Award recognizes innovative state and local policy initiatives that support the creation and preservation of affordable and workforce housing.
AIA Pennsylvania’s Government Award
The Pennsylvania chapter of the American Institute of Architects announced its annual Architectural Excellence Design and Special Awards recipients on October 27, 2017. AIA PA selected Greg for its Government Award, given in recognition of significant contributions to, or particular support of, the profession and business of architecture and/or the built environment.
Impact Development Series on Next City
Greg is guest editing a series of profiles of impact development projects on Next City. This series explores how impact development projects are reshaping our cities and leaving their mark on communities and the lives of the people in them. The first article discusses a Chicago nonprofit’s journey transforming a vacant paint factory into a $12.9 million arts and tech center
ULI 40 Under 40
On October 25, 2016 Greg was selected as one of the 2016 winners of Urban Land Institute’s 40 Under 40 competition, which recognizes the best and brightest young land use professionals from around the globe. “This elite group presents the innovators who are shaping the future of our global cities,” said ULI Global Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips. “They are the influential leaders who both embrace the best practices in land use and think outside the box to drive positive change in the built environment.” View Greg’s 40 Under 40 profile here.
Tour of Social Impact Development
On May 19, 2016 as part of the American Institute of Architects national convention, Greg gave a bus tour of social impact development in Philadelphia. The tour included Neighborhood Time Exchange, Parkside and Please Touch Museum, Paseo Verde Apartments, El Corazon Cultural Center, Pan American Academy Charter School, Oxford Mills, Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services and JBJ Soul Homes projects. Participants gained an understanding of how the featured mission-based, social-impact projects were designed, developed, and implemented—and how they’ve positively impacted communities struggling with poverty and economic distress. View the tour map and brochure.
Greg Named to Head PRA
In March 2016 the board of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority named Greg as its new Executive Director. In a media release, Greg said “After spending the past few years working on community development projects across the country, it is an honor to have this opportunity to serve the citizens of Philadelphia. The PRA has a deep legacy as an agency at the center of transforming our city, and I look forward to working with the City, community partners, and staff to build a positive future for our neighborhoods.”
Urban Innovation Exchange
Greg is honored to be named an Urban Innovator by Urban Innovation Exchange (UIX)! UIX is an initiative to advance the growing movement of people leading change in cities. Launched in 2012 as a three-year project in Detroit funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, UIX is now widening its lens to showcase catalytic talent transforming cities and neighborhoods across America. National partners include Meeting of the Minds, The Kresge Foundation, Issue Media Group, Tumml, and Kiva Zip.
Connecting real estate developers to meaningful social impact
Greg published an op-ed in Next City: Across the country there is a small sub-sector of nonprofits, community developers and socially conscious private developers working to build important assets that focus on social impact — improving people’s lives and making our communities stronger and more prosperous. I call it “impact development” — and it deserves more attention. Read the op-ed.
This CEO Wants to Change the Real Estate Game
In 2015, Next City selected Greg as part of its Vanguard program — an annual experiential urban leadership gathering of the best and brightest young urban leaders working to improve cities across sectors. Then Next City featured Greg in its Next City Network column, where Greg explained, “I want to change the system for how we build community projects in low-income neighborhoods.”
On June 11, 2015 Greg was a speaker at TEDx Philadelphia. The daylong multidisciplinary conference brought together 14 engaging speakers, performers, and participants to explore issues of access and equity, spark conversations that matter, and showcase great ideas for building more just cities. Greg spoke about how social-impact real estate can shape our communities and cities.
Ed Bacon: Planning, Politics, and the Building of Modern Philadelphia
Greg authored the first biography of Ed Bacon, published by University of Pennsylvania Press in 2013. The book received an Honorable Mention in 2013 from the Lewis Mumford Prize, and was reviewed in local and national publications including New Republic and Architect. As director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, Bacon forged new approaches to neighborhood development and elevated Philadelphia’s image to the level of great world cities. Edmund Bacon is remembered as a larger-than-life personality, but in Heller’s detailed account, his successes owed as much to his savvy negotiation of city politics and the pragmatic particulars of his vision.
Families Forward Philadelphia
Greg proudly serves on the board of Families Forward Philadelphia–the city’s largest family homeless services organization. Greg has served on the board for eight years including two years as Chairman and one as Treasurer. Families Forward operates the city’s largest privately run shelter with sixty-nine (69) private, family units at our residential facility and also supporting eighty (80) families in transitional and permanent family residential units throughout West Philadelphia. Families Forward is one of the few agencies in Philadelphia capable of housing the entire family, allowing both parents to be with their children during this time of crisis, and specifically designing programs to accept larger families and families with more acute issues.
Edmund N. Bacon Urban Design Awards
In 2004 Greg founded the Edmund N. Bacon Urban Design Awards, an annual international student design challenge, today run by the Philadelphia Center for Architecture. Year after year, students from across the globe submit innovative design concepts for solving important urban issues, and the Center also presents the Edmund N. Bacon Prize to a professional who has made significant contributions to the field of urban planning.