Obituaries

Richard M. Froehlich ’85, LAW’88, Affordable Housing Advocate

Richard M. Froehlich ’85, LAW’88, who dedicated his career to ensuring that New Yorkers had affordable housing, died on September 24, 2021. He most recently was first executive VP and chief operating officer for the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC).


In 2015, when he received a Public Service Award at the New York Housing Conference, Froehlich recalled, “I went to school [in New York] in the ’80s, and it was an interesting time; the city was changing ... I might have woken up when I was writing a piece for the Columbia newspaper (Spectator). I saw people who might be homeless, people who were having challenges. That was important to me, to see that and to think about how I might be able to make a contribution.”

Following law school, Froehlich was of counsel at O’Melveny & Meyers, where he was involved in numerous multi-family housing transactions representing equity investors, lenders, credit enhancers and issuers in bond-financed transactions. He joined the HDC as general counsel in 2003 and eventually directed the corporation’s bond finance and operating activities.

Froehlich was a primary coordinator of HDC’s award-winning preservation efforts, which led to the continued affordability of more than 140,000 units of low- and middle- income housing in New York City. He was a leader in designing and implementing HDC’s participation in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York plan to build and preserve 300,000 units of affordable housing.

“Rich is incredibly creative,” Vicky Been, former commissioner of the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development and now a law professor at NYU, said in 2015. “Whatever the problem, Rich could see a way to solve that problem that none of the rest of us had ever thought of. He’s just really good at spinning straw into gold.”

In 2014 Froehlich became a member of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, a self-regulatory organization created under the Federal Securities Act Amendments of 1975 to regulate the municipal finance industry, serving a four-year term. He also was elected to the board of the National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies in 2014 and was its president.

“His ability to manage complex negotiations while keeping the interest of the city at heart will be a lasting legacy,” said Shola Olatoye, former chair and CEO of the NYC Housing Authority and now director of housing and community development in Oakland, Calif.

Froehlich brought his knowledge of public and affordable housing finance into the classroom as an adjunct associate professor at GSAPP, where he taught courses on affordable housing finance and public finance.

“Building the next generation of people to work in the affordable housing industry is the greatest challenge for all of us,” said Been. “Rich put incredible time and e ort into mentoring people to try to fill that next generation of leadership.”

Froehlich had a passion for the arts and particularly for music, and was a member of the Stonewall Chorale since 1991. He was honored in 2019 for his long tenure with the Chorale.

Froehlich was predeceased by his husband, Dr. Joseph DiVito, and is survived by his siblings and in-laws: Steven and Linda Froehlich, Charles and Gail Froehlich, Alan and Jodi Cohn, Jo Ann Cohn, Shari and Martin Cohn-Simmen, Vivien and Tom Barcia, Barry and Deborah Cohn, Jennifer and Colin Marsh and Thomas DeVito.

Memorial contributions may be made to New Destiny, an organization aiding survivors of domestic violence; the Stonewall Chorale; or the SUNY Downstate Joseph DiVito M.D. Scholarship and Education Fund.

— Alex Sachare ’71