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Blackstone Pushing Further Into Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Market

Blackstone looks to further penetrate into the federal low-income housing tax credit world.

Blackstone is pushing into government-backed affordable housing, the latest push by the global investment giant into the housing and multifamily sector.

Blackstone announced Thursday that it is establishing April Housing, a division that will oversee and preserve affordability for an initial portfolio of 90,000 units that were previously acquired by its nontraded REIT Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust from American International Group and The Cornerstone Group.

The portfolio has properties in Austin, Dallas, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco; five of those are among the 20 most expensive apartment markets in the U.S. this year, according to Zumper.

The existing April Housing portfolio operates under the federal low-income housing tax credit program, which requires owners to restrict rental increases in exchange for financial incentives. The existing portfolio is under rent restrictions for an average of 20 years, Bloomberg reported.

Blackstone tapped Alice Carr, an affordable housing veteran and former head of community development banking for JPMorgan Chase, as the CEO for April Housing, starting in May.

"The need for quality affordable housing has never been greater, and I’m honored to step into this role to identify innovative solutions and bring additional capital to the affordable housing crisis," Carr said in a statement.

Blackstone said in a release that April Housing plans to invest more than $500M to "improve communities while maintaining the affordability of the properties" over the next 10 years.

“Blackstone intends to keep them affordable for the long-term,” the company stated in a press release.

This is the latest move from the private equity giant into the housing sector. Last summer, Blackstone spent $6B to acquire the single-family housing rental company Home Partners of America, which operates more than 17,000 rental homes across the U.S. A year earlier, Blackstone acquired Tricon Residential, a firm that owned 35,000 SFR units in the U.S. and Canada, for $300M.

In December, Blackstone also agreed to purchase the apartment REIT Bluerock Residential Growth REIT for $3.6B, adding 30 apartment communities and 11,000 units in cities like Atlanta, Orlando, Denver and Austin. Just last week, Blackstone announced an agreement to acquire Atlanta-based Preferred Apartment Communities — and its 12,000-unit portfolio — for $5.8B.

As it has faced criticism for being among an investor class pushing up single-family housing prices beyond the reach of most Americans, Blackstone, through its Home Partners division, announced a program last month that offers a 10% monthly rental discount to households earning 80% or less of an area median's income, and an opportunity for renters to buy their homes at below-market rates.