Meet the Staff is a monthly feature on the Homewords blog. This month, meet Matt Crellin, housing project manager. The photo at right was taken recently with 4 of 5 members of the '"OG" PCNF team (l to r, Margee Bracken, Matt, Jean Kenndy, Marcia Giske), minus Lee Blons.
How long have you worked at Beacon (or any of its previous incarnations)?
I started working here just a few months after Beacon’s (then the Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation's) first development project, Lydia Apartments, was completed. After the successful opening of Lydia the board decided that it wanted to continue developing affordable housing and I was hired as the first full-time development project manager.
Describe your job - not necessarily your official job description but what you really do every day.
I am in job transition here at Beacon. I formally retire some time next year. I'll become Beacon’s first retiree, which is an organizational milestone in itself. I was previously the director of housing development. I am now a project manager on the new projects team. I work on the more technical side of shaping new potential developments and getting the permits and other governmental approvals required to build. There is also the responsibility of applying to the state, cities, counties for available public housing dollars for each project.
Why do you like working here?
When I first started working here I was only the third full-time employee and it was a great small group of people to work with. Now that the staff has grown to more than 30 employees I can attest to the fact that the staff is a just as enjoyable a group of people to work with and they amaze me every day with their skill, knowledge and commitment.
What’s one thing you are most proud of about your work?
Some people think that doing the actual work of real estate development is sexy and fun. In fact there is usually more than a little frustration to endure and there are tough choices to be made that are not so much fun. I am most proud when, having endured the inevitable trials and tribulations, Beacon completes a new building or the rehabilitation of an older one and creates safe and high quality homes for people who really appreciate them. The best times are the grand openings or other visits to our properties when the tenants thank you for helping them have a nice place to live and I can see how people use the living space we have worked to create.
What kind of job would you have if you weren’t so busy helping to end homelessness?
I think I would still be working on developing real estate or helping to build buildings. The process of creating a building from pieces of paper (a guess it’s also from bits of data now) and piles of building materials continues to fascinate me. I am in awe of architects, engineers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and everyone else involved in the real estate development process.
What is your favorite book, movie, comedian, play, sport, pastime or anything else?
I like to read books, both fiction and nonfiction and I usually have one of each, partially read, on my nightstand at any given time. One of my favorites lately is The Big Roads, by Earl Swift. Recommended by my oldest son, who is training to be a civil engineer, the book details the push during the first part of this century to create roads for the new automobiles once they started to be mass produced. It was interesting to realize the speed with which this process had to progress, the talented people it took to design the roads, create a road system and the technological challenges involved in building roads to accommodate the automobile and motor truck. On the fiction side of things I recommend Last Man in Tower by the Indian writer Aravind Adiga. It is a novel with the unusual combination of real estate development, greed and murder, set in the city of Mumbai. OK, so maybe murder is the only part of the combination which is really unusual.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I don’t think I have any secrets. I grew up in a small Minnesota town with one grandfather a farmer and the other a harness maker. My dad worked for the U.S. Postal Service and was a World War II veteran. My mother a high school teacher. The Crellin family name is “Manx”, from the Isle of Man, a small place in the Irish Sea between Ireland and Wales. I was once, very long time ago, adjudicated to be the second best high school tuba player in the state of Minnesota.