Leon Weiner builder Kevin Kelly receives national housing honor
WILMINGTON — Kevin Kelly, a Wilmington-based homebuilder and tireless advocate for affordable housing in Delaware and throughout the United States, was inducted into the National Housing Hall of Fame on Friday.
This is the highest individual honor bestowed by the housing industry, awarded to those who made a profound impact on housing for all Americans.
As the CEO of Leon N. Weiner & Associates, a mission-minded developer that operates thousands of affordable apartments in 10 states, Kelly, along with his partners, has been committed to inclusive development solutions in Delaware and nationally for more than four decades, all while running a successful for-profit company with more than 270 employees.
The award comes as New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer announced on Oct. 4 that $30 million from the federal American Rescue Plan will be invested into the county for affordable housing initiatives, which will include some of LNWA’s planned projects. Under Kelly’s leadership, LNWA was also recently selected to redevelop a significant property on Main Street in Newark. The Main Street building will provide both affordable and market rate housing for seniors under one roof. Affordable rentals are notoriously slim on the Main Street corridor, with students dominating the market.
“Kevin Kelly has been an incredible advocate for the affordable housing needs of Americans and has done an excellent job of building quality housing in Delaware,” U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said in a statement. “Kevin was a vital connection to the NAHB when I was executive of New Castle County, even more so during my decade in the Senate. I am thrilled he is being inducted into the National Housing Hall of Fame.”
Kelly’s induction into the NHHF comes as the House of Representatives works to pass its Build Back Better reconciliation legislation, which could provide $30 billion to finance more than 1.38 million affordable rental homes — including 4,800 apartments in Delaware — over the next decade. The bill exists in part to the years of housing policies Kelly has assisted in creating and championing.
LNWA has a diverse portfolio of both affordable housing and commercial projects: It has built, developed and operated more than 14,000 homes, rental properties and apartments across 10 states for people of all income levels. LNWA has also developed more than 650 hotel rooms, with a 90-room Marriott in Middletown slated to open in 2022.
During Kelly’s 31 years of leadership, LNWA has built 26 communities in all three Delaware counties. That includes McCaulley Court, the first large-scale for-sale development on Wilmington’s Eastside in 30 years. LNWA also redeveloped Eastlake, a public housing development spanning four city blocks in Wilmington’s Northeast neighborhood that had become dilapidated since its original construction in 1943. Kelly and his partners at LNWA transformed the site into an affordable housing community with 70 rentals and 90 for-sale homes. The reimagined Village of Eastlake was an early linchpin of revitalization efforts on Wilmington’s Northeast that continue to this day. LNWA remains partners with the Wilmington Housing Authority in the award-winning property.
Kelly has served in numerous advocacy positions, including two terms as president of the Home Builders Association of Delaware, on the Federal National Mortgage Association’s (Fannie Mae) Affordable Housing Council and has testified several times before Congress on housing and land use policy. In 2014, he was elected chairman of the board of the National Association of Home Builders. LNWA is the only real estate development firm in the country to have two past chairs of the NAHB, Kelly, and the firm’s founder, Leon N. Weiner. In addition, the firm will now count four past partners as members of the NHHF: Leon Weiner, Joseph Singer, Marvin Gilman and Kevin Kelly.
The NHHF induction ceremony took place at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Houston. The Hall of Fame holds induction ceremonies every three years. Kelly was originally going to be inducted last year in Washington, D.C., but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was postponed to this year.
Alongside his business partner David Curtis, Kelly has carried LNWA’s 70-year legacy into the next generation of mission-focused, for-profit companies, with a commitment to keeping communities affordable for the long term. For more information, visit https://www.nahb.org/nahb-community/awards/national-housing-hall-of-fame.