About

Tom Caine: Financial Advisor from the Beginning


Tom Caine's relationship with SDHDA actually predates the agency's creation. The New York financial advisor helped refine the legislation passed in 1973, by the South Dakota Legislature, creating the Authority.

In 1973 Caine worked for Paine Webber. State housing finance agencies were new concepts. The first one was created by New York in the early 1960s. A decade later other states, including South Dakota, were looking to develop their own housing finance agencies.

"At Paine Webber, we were active in creating these programs. Someone in South Dakota got my name from somewhere," Caine commented. He traveled to Pierre in early 1973, getting his first taste of a South Dakota winter, and worked with the bill's sponsor to craft the language that became South Dakota codified law 11:11.

"During the drafting of legislation, Tom was instrumental in getting major provisions included in the law: the ability to make direct loans for homeownership, the ability to insure mortgages and the ability of SDHDA to function as a statewide housing and redevelopment commission," said Mark Lauseng, SDHDA's Executive Director.

Although the Legislature authorized SDHDA's creation, it didn't appropriate any funds. However, Governor Richard Kneip began appointing people to the Board of Commissioners and setting up the Authority. SDHDA began with a small staff and office space in the former State Library.

"They had one room and I think they cut a deal on the rent," Caine reflected with a chuckle. "It really was a shoestring operation, but they began working very quickly on getting their financing in place." Paine Webber was their senior investment banker.

That summer Caine worked with SDHDA to issue its first financial instrument to launch its programs. The money became available the following year. SDHDA has been creating housing opportunities ever since.

Caine left Paine Webber in 1978 to start his own firm, Caine Mitter & Associates. Caine still works closely with SDHDA, which is his longest-standing client. Over the years the complexity and scope of SDHDA's services and investments have expanded. Despite industry challenges, housing finance agencies have done very well, commented Caine. "HFAs, in general, and SDHDA, in particular, have been strong and have survived events like the financial crisis that began in 2008. While providing affordable mortgages to first-time homebuyers, HFAs did not make subprime mortgages and have weathered the storms including the recent housing bubble," commented Caine. He does not forget that their work puts roofs over the heads of families who might not be able to afford homes without these programs.