May 22, 2015
By Neal Tepel
San Fransico, California – While the real estate market in San Francisco has been on the upswing in recent years, housing and commercial construction in San Francisco ground to a halt during the height of the economic downturn. Rental housing was hit especially hard, making the search for affordable housing even more challenging for working families.
As Michael Theriault, secretary-treasurer of San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council, recalled, "Things were dead – things were moribund." But Theriault and others credit the HIT, and its workers' pension capital investments, with getting construction projects rolling again.
Since 2010, the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT) with more than $5 billion in assets from union and public employee pension plans has helped finance four residential developments in the city: Rincon Green at 333 Harrison, the Potrero Launch Apartments, Arc Light Co. and 101 Polk.
"Those projects put people back to work and showed other investors and other developers that there were possibilities in San Francisco," Theriault said. "So what came back first in the city, really, was rental housing. And it came back because everybody saw those projects and saw that it was a possibility and said, 'Well, maybe it's worthwhile putting some money into this town again.'"
In San Francisco for the period 2010 to 2011, it was impossible to get financing for projects, but the AFL-CIO provided needed revenue for construction projects. The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust has been a catalyst for recovery in San Francisco since the recession and during its current boom.
HIT's investments in San Francisco have been huge in influencing the future of the city's housing infrastructure. Since inception in 1984, the HIT has invested $281 million in San Francisco, representing over $505 million in total development. This capital has generated approximately 6,860 total jobs including 3,450 union construction jobs and 3,410 jobs in other industry sectors as well as created 1,660 housing units.