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$l35m in city pension funds being invested in housing.

New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. announced that the Boards of Trustees of four of the city's five pension funds are investing $135 million in the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT), which is working to expand the supply of affordable housing in the city. The pension funds will support the HIT's New York City Community Investment Initiative, a targeted investment program to address critical needs for multi- and single-family housing.

"New York City suffers from an imbalance between the supply and demand for affordable housing," Thompson said. "We are committed to finding ways to help New Yorkers address these critical needs for multi-family housing and homeownership, and these pension commitments will support the renovation, construction and financing of affordable housing."

The HIT is a registered investment company that invests in housing and economic development projects nationwide to produce competitive returns for its investors. The HIT manages more than $3 billion in assets for more than 400 participating funds, including both Taft-Hartley and public employee pension plans.

The HIT has invested over $4.5 billion in housing, creating over 62,000 units of housing nationwide. HIT's companion funds, the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust and AFL-CIO Urban Development Fund, have joined in the New York City Community Investment Initiative in seeking commercial real estate investments.

"We are delighted to have the four funds of the New York City Retirement Systems as participants," said Mike Arnold, senior executive vice president of the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust. "The trust has a long record of providing participants a high degree of security and competitive returns, while also achieving the important secondary goals of producing affordable housing and promoting jobs and community development."

The HIT already has invested more than $320 million in New York City, financing more than 5,000 housing units in 11 developments. That includes commitments of $39.2 million to Brooklyn's Bedford Gardens and $10 million to 475 Ninth Ave. in Manhattan.

The New York City Employees' Retirement System and the Teachers' Retirement System approved investments of $50 million apiece, while the New York City Police Pension Fund approved $20 million, and the New York City Fire Department Pension Fund approved a $15 million investment.

Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said: "High housing costs are a major deterrent to young people who want to become New York City public school teachers and stay in the system. Affordable housing can help us bridge this gap."

"We are proud that the city's pension funds have made an investment in the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust," said Lillian Roberts, executive director, District Council 37, AFCSME. "The investment will not only produce solid investment returns for NYCERS members, but contribute to the building of affordable housing, with union labor, for working people, and help spur economic activity in the city. It is with these kinds of creative investments that the trustees on the City's pension funds can aid in the revitalization of New York.

Edward J. Malloy, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, lauded the investments.

"Recent investments in residential and commercial construction in New York City have proven to yield solid returns at low risk, with the added bonus of creating jobs and economic opportunity in our own backyard," Malloy said. "The trustees are to be commended for recognizing public employee pension funds can be securely invested here in the five boroughs instead of exporting these valuable assets to our competitors."

Brian McLaughlin, president of the Central Labor Council, added: "Labor is the backbone of this great city. Union pension dollars can have a real and lasting impact on New York City's recovery efforts."

The systems selected the HIT for investment through a competitive solicitation that sought proposals for economically targeted investments that produced a competitive rate of return, while also providing collateral economic benefits for New York City.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Oct 16, 2002
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