Photo: Hannah Yoon
Gregory Heller is a practitioner and author in the fields of community/economic development and urban policy. Greg serves as Senior VP of Community Investment at Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation and Executive Director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA), where he was appointed in March 2016. Here Greg has brought a focus on innovative approaches to providing affordable housing and creative financing for community development.
Greg’s group at PHDC has invested over $107M since 2016 to produce and preserve over 2,200 affordable housing units. During Covid-19 Greg’s team built the system and infrastructure, from the ground up, to deliver over $60M in emergency rental assistance. This program not only provides rent assistance to landlords, but also supports Philadelphians by providing direct-cash assistance for tenants. Greg’s group has designed and launched several groundbreaking housing financing programs including a $40M home repair loan program to increase access to capital for low/moderate-income borrowers.
Greg’s work has also focused on empowering people and communities, such as in Eastwick, with a two-year planning and feasibility study for nearly 200 acres of environmentally-sensitive land; and in West Philadelphia, with the redevelopment of the 36 vacant homes that were the site of the infamous 1985 MOVE bombing, helping that community to heal. Greg was also instrumental in creating the Philadelphia Accelerator Fund, a new independent lending vehicle for financing affordable housing.
Under Greg’s leadership, in 2019 the Redevelopment Authority won the Urban Land Institute’s national Robert C. Larson Award for its workforce housing program. That same year Philadelphia was selected as one of four cities to participate in the inaugural Local Housing Solutions Institute. In 2017 AIA Pennsylvania presented Greg with its Government Award, and also in 2017 Greg was named to the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. In 2016 Greg was named a member of the Urban Land 40 Under 40, which recognizes the “best young land-use professionals from around the globe.” Greg’s involvement with the Urban Land Institute includes his service on ULI’s national Public/Private Partnership Council. In June 2015 Greg was a speaker at TEDx Philadelphia, where he proposed rethinking how we invest in real estate, in order to support physical projects with social impact.
Prior to his work at PRA, Greg was CEO of American Communities Trust (ACT), a national organization based in Baltimore, that advises private real estate developers, government entities, and financial institutions relating to social-impact real estate. Greg also served as a Senior Advisor with Econsult Solutions Inc., and worked at The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, and Parkside Historic Preservation Corporation. Early in his career Greg had the privilege to work with Edmund N. Bacon, Philadelphia’s renowned former city planning director. Later Greg wrote Ed Bacon: Planning, Politics and the Building of Modern Philadelphia published by University of Pennsylvania Press in 2013. Greg’s other writings on community development and investment have appeared in a variety of national and local publications, including Next City, Chronicle of Philanthropy, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Since 2008, Greg has served on the board of Families Forward Philadelphia, Philadelphia’s largest family homeless services organization. Greg has a B.A. from Wesleyan University, where he graduated with dual degrees in American Studies and German Studies. Greg lives with his wife, writer and urban policy specialist, Diana Lind, and two sons, in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia.