Blog interview series: Kait Baffoe

IMG_7904.JPGKait Baffoe is the director of real estate development for Partners In Housing. She manages the development portfolio for PIH which includes writing and administering capital grants, securing development financing, underwriting developments, building acquisition, overseeing the rehabilitation and/or construction of the properties, as well as working with property management to create a scope of work that is appropriate for the population served by the building.

Prior to her time with Partners In Housing she worked for the State with the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority working with housing policy and administering grant funds as a Real Estate Production Analyst. She received her undergraduate degree from Indiana University and her Master’s in Urban Planning, with a concentration on affordable housing, from the University of Illinois-Chicago. She is doing exactly what she wants to be doing.

Kait lives in the Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood with her fiancé Derek and her two pups. She is originally from the City of Chicago and is the oldest of six kids. She grew up spending a lot of time outside camping and continues that tradition today. Her hobbies include traveling, camping, hiking, reading, spending time with friends and being socially engaged in her community. Kait currently sits on the boards of Earth Charter Indiana and the Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Association, is an active member of the Junior League of Indianapolis and volunteers with several Indianapolis organizations.

Kait has a passion for helping those less fortunate than herself and has found her calling in the affordable housing arena. She also considers herself a social activist and is very outspoken about politics.

How long have you lived in Indy?

I moved to Indianapolis a little over three years ago now and I love it.

Why have you focused on using your skills in the nonprofit sector?

Because nonprofits mean what they say, and they do what they say they will do. I love working for an organization whose sole purpose is to live up to its mission, not the bottom line.

How did you find your current position?

It found me actually! My current executive director found me on LinkedIn and asked to meet for lunch. He hired me right there on a bar stool!

What would you say to another young professional considering a nonprofit job?IMG_7902.JPG

Do it.

Some of the best advice I have ever received from a mentor is that, when you work at a nonprofit, you learn significantly more on the job than in the private sector. Generally that is because a nonprofit cannot afford to have someone take care of each part of a process, for example, so you are responsible for the entire process. It can be a lot of work, but it has opened so many opportunities for me. I feel so much more confident doing development work as I have been involved every step of the way, so there isn’t part of the process that still intimidates me.

More than that, the nonprofit community is so giving. You can almost always find a colleague in your field who will help you out when you need it. I have several who have taken me under their wing and have not only helped me learn the material, but make sure I master it.

If you could learn a brand new skill, what would it be?

I would learn Spanish fluently. I can understand a lot of it, but I cannot speak it or write it, and I have run into several instances where it would have been useful to know.

If you were an inanimate object, what would you be and why?

This is so hard! A book. But I can’t decide on just one book. Or a wine glass because, wine. Or a wine glass being used while reading a book! #FirstWorldProblems

What do you hope to accomplish that you haven’t yet?

So much. The list is so much larger than what I feel like I have accomplished both personally and professionally, so I’ll just focus on the next year.

In the next year, I want to marry my fiancé, bring 125 affordable housing units online for the City of Indianapolis, and rehab two properties in our current portfolio to maintain their historic integrity and upgrade their building systems. Ultimately, I want to end chronic homelessness in Indianapolis. I want any bout of homelessness to be infrequent, short and non-recurring.

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Share a little-known treasure of Indianapolis with us.

Tick Tock Lounge on the Near Eastside! You need to get over there and have one of their bloody Marys! I consider it my second office.

Most important question: What’s your favorite building in Indianapolis and why?

Easy! It’s the Blue Triangle building at 725 N Pennsylvania St. It is currently in my portfolio of buildings owned by Partners In Housing, created as a dorm for the old YWCA. It is listed as a Historic Building, and Partners saved it from demolition over 20 years ago as it was slated to be torn down for parking.  

The details of the building are incredible, but my absolute favorite thing about it is that it is affordable housing in the heart of Downtown Indianapolis. This building has high resale value, but PIH knows the significance of having housing near services and jobs, and that is what the Blue Triangle provides. It is also a building I am trying to rehab from a dormitory-style layout with shared bathrooms and kitchens, to efficiency-style units. It will be one of my biggest projects to date, and a lot of time and energy has gone into the project. When the rehab is completed it will feel like a personal victory. The building has a lot of significance for me.


Want to support Kait's work?

pih.pngSince 1993, Partners in Housing has rescued and rehabbed properties that have provided a total of 248 supportive housing units and 335 affordable housing units. These units serve more than 600 people every day, making Partners In Housing by far the largest and oldest developer of this kind of housing in Indianapolis.

These buildings that are rehabbed are often vacant or underutilized properties and Partners is restoring these assets for the city. More than that Partners provides decent, safe and affordable housing for some of the most vulnerable individuals in the city. They combine housing with service delivery, which makes them unique from any other organization in Indianapolis.

To support Kait's work, please donate to Partners in Housing. Partners will also be having their annual gala - the Snow Ball - coming up on November 11. Stay in the loop by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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