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Unions contribute to affordable housing in NYC

The shortage is workforce housing is a real problem in cities and towns across the country. But five New York City union pension systems are doing what they can to help problem, investing some $150 million in projects to erect 20,000 units of affordable housing in the Big Apple, the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT) announced.

The money is being sent to the HIT to leverage some $1 billion in total investment in the housing in all five boroughs, the trust added in a mid-October statement. Union labor will build the housing in an economically targeted investment program. Economically targeted investments are designed to address market inefficiencies by providing capital or liquidity to under-served communities and populations across the city, added Comptroller Scott Stringer, New York City’s chief financial officer.

Stringer also advised the union pension systems on the projects. Working with the HIT on investing in housing “is a fiscally smart marriage of resources and housing policy,” he added. The investments provide market returns to the pension funds, HIT noted.

The HIT invests in affordable housing, and sometimes other projects, nationwide. As its key condition, union labor totally builds all the projects. But the new New York investment marks the first phase of a new HIT strategy for investing in the city over the next seven years, Housing Trust Chief Executive Stephen Coyle said.

The strategy, developed by HIT, union leaders, developers, community groups and Stringer’s staff, “aims to preserve the affordability of 12,500 to 15,000 housing units, construct 5,000 to 7,500 new housing units” and to “work with city and state agencies to finance and improve affordable public housing,” the Housing Investment Trust stated.

HIT estimated the seven-year plan would produce 7,300 union construction jobs, double that number in total jobs and $1 billion in wages and benefits to workers.

  • Press Associates contributed to this report.

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