Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, Executive Education
Over a career spanning 47+ years, David Smith’s work in affordable housing has been committed to improving housing for people who need it and deserve it, unrelenting commitment to quality social and economic outcomes, and continuing willingness to take pioneering risk. Having twice founded companies that have become leaders, first in the US and now globally, he is recognized as a visionary who makes things happen. In March, 2022, David conceptualized and launched the Rehousing Ukraine Initiative, a multi-entity team with Ukrainian and European partners, that envisions a late-war and postwar environment where Ukraine prevails at the cost of immense urban damage. Housing is people infrastructure, where jobs go to sleep at night. Bringing home refugees, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and veterans, will be critical to revitalizing Ukraine’s economy – and that will require a massive commitment to housing as part of an integrated strategy alongside other critical physical, economic, and social infrastructure. RUI is currently providing pro-bono advisory and program design support to relevant Ukrainian ministries and continues to expand its network and our work.
In 2001, David launched AHI to work globally by taking structured finance and investment banking principles as applied to affordable housing down the income pyramid. This includes developing solutions for informal housing and informal incomes, and building financial products, capital delivery models, government programs, and private companies. The same spirit has energized AHI’s US work as financial advisor to the residents of Charlestown’s Bunker Hill Public Housing, New England’s largest, and his work on addressing the spatial legacy of under-investment in Milwaukee’s Black neighborhoods.