The Impact of a Private Developer

Ostensibly, this article is about the success of NYC providing good affordable housing.  But there is more here.

L&M is a developer of subsidized housing.  Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy, L&M bought a “beachside campus of high-rises and four-story townhouses (that) had, over the years, taken a nose dive, the victim of bad management, crime and rot. Sandy left homes flooded, and poor tenants bereft of electricity and hot water. Residents who could, fled…one-third of Ocean Village’s 1,093 apartments were vacant. The company poured $60 million into a renovation.  (Now) hallways, kitchens, bathrooms and electrical systems are refurbished; lobbies opened up with big windows; a floodwall installed; the landscaping upgraded, with a broad promenade to the beach; and leaky facades clad with new, waterproof, energy-efficient panels. (Energy bills have dropped 30 percent.)  Residents dependent on public subsidies worried they’d face higher rents or be pushed out. L&M guaranteed that they could stay and that their rents wouldn’t rise.”

The article highlights other refurbished or new buildings and properties with similar benefits to lower income students and residents.  Developers L&M and Jonathan Rose Companies, along with Harlem RBI, a nonprofit educational organization, are responsible for these projects and there are many more success stories like this around the country.

Impact investing is the goal of simultaneously generating both tangible environmental or social benefits and positive financial return.  Projects like this show that for-profit organizations, in this case, real estate developers, can make a difference while they make a profit.  And investing in such organizations, whether for profit, or an arm of a non-profit, that can produce both good and profit, is an attractive alternative to tantalum mines that use slave labor, or palm oil plantations that destroy air, land, and freedoms.

While such impact investing is a great type of investment for anyone, this is exactly what foundations, especially community and community-focused foundations, should be funding, in contrast to playing the market without regard to impact.

Complete article:  http://nyti.ms/1UnaVOL

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