Equity and Affordable Housing—from Coast to Coast
June 08, 2021
By Michael Morris
The affordable housing crisis in our country has intensified over the past year. With the prolonged economic fallout from COVID-19, significant pressure has been placed on millions of renters and landlords. The need for affordable housing options is more important than ever. To advance the conversation around opportunities and challenges facing the industry and the important role of diversity, equity and inclusion in creating a better tomorrow, EisnerAmper, Mosser Capital, and StepStone are partnering on a three-part webinar series, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (“DEI”) in Commercial Real Estate.
On May 20, we hosted “Part I: Equity and Affordable Housing—from Coast to Coast,” which provided a timely conversation about the affordable housing crisis, its connection to economic productivity and growth, and where we go from here.
- Michael Morris, Director, EisnerAmper (co-moderator)
- Darren Griffith, Director, EisnerAmper (co-moderator)
- Jim Farris, CEO, Mosser Capital
- Margret McKnight, Partner, StepStone Group
- Paul Odland, Founder & Managing Partner, Belveron Partners
- Randall Sakamoto, President & Director of Research, Rosen Consulting Group
Darren Griffith opened by welcoming our guests and insightful speakers. He then introduced the first panelist, Randall Sakamoto, who set the table with a state-of-the-market update. The main takeaway is the U.S. has a huge, seven million unit shortage in affordable/workforce housing.
As a partner at a multi-billion dollar investment firm, Margret McKnight opined that investors continue to make significant commitments to new real estate funds. Many institutional investors are highly focused on developing ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) policies that are likely to change how they invest. These policies could lead to more investment in affordable housing. However, additional education is needed and similar to industrial, the market needs to find a way to scale investments in affordable housing from traditional limited partners to enable efficient participation from large institutions.
Jim Farris of Mosser Capital has 3,000 units on the West Coast, and Paul Odland of Belveron Partners has 32,000 units on the East Coast and in 20 states. Farris focuses on Workforce and Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (“NOAH”) and discussed the challenges in rent-controlled San Francisco with respect to COVID and government regulations. Farris and his Mosser Capital team have a boots-on-the-ground property manager to control and implement their investment strategy, thus staying on top of tenant issues while acting as a fiduciary to their investors regarding rent collections and other difficulties during COVID-19. Odland, a large Section 8 investor, defined Belveron’s role with DEI in real estate: Do good while doing business, and address social issues that affect their tenets. Both operators are looking at different markets to expand their footprints and are seeking additional opportunities.
The panel unanimously agreed government involvement and collaboration are key; the industry needs to help with the shortage of available units. It was an honor to co-moderate for this incredible group of panelists. Given the dynamic speakers and fascinating topics, we could have listened to them for hours.