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Adams, Construction Unions To Partner On $400M Workforce Housing Development Fund

New York City Mayor Eric Adams onstage at his 2024 State of the City address.

A group of construction unions, a real estate investment firm and New York City Mayor Eric Adams have come together on a deal to invest $400M in the development of affordable housing for the city's laborers.

Pension funds affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Council and Cirrus Workforce Housing, a subsidiary of Cirrus Real Estate Partners, will contribute more than $100M to a new fund dedicated to workforce housing, the mayor's office announced Friday.

The city signed a memorandum of understanding that directs agencies to accelerate approvals, leverage taxpayer financing, explore building on city-owned sites and partner with the fund on projects restricted to those making between 80% and 140% of the area median income.

“As the blue-collar mayor of America’s biggest union town, I have been clear that our mission is to create good-paying jobs and make our city more livable for hardworking New Yorkers,” Adams said in a statement. “This first-of-its-kind agreement will help build housing that is affordable for the New Yorkers who have built our city and help New York City lead on the affordable housing crisis facing our nation.”

The BCTC is pooling its capital from 11 different union funds, according to the release, while Cirrus expects to raise the balance of the capital from outside investors. The new partnership could explore mixed-income housing and has a goal of delivering projects near transit, using negotiated labor agreements and responsible contracting policies, and achieving “sustainable building goals,” according to the city's press release.

“This partnership will lead to the development of affordable workforce housing under negotiated Project Labor Agreements that will create family sustaining union careers for New Yorkers,” BCTC President Gary LaBarbera said in a statement. “We believe that the union funds investing in this program have demonstrated tremendous vision and we look forward to building the housing supply for the city’s working class.”

The BCTC brings together 15 unions with a combined 100,000 members, including ironworkers, masons, painters and carpenters. Cirrus is a New York-based real estate finance firm led by Anthony Tufariello and Joseph McDonnell that has funded residential condo projects in New York and Miami, according to its website.

The new form of partnership is the latest bid by the Adams administration to turn around the city's dire affordable housing shortage. By some measures, apartment vacancy in the city is near an all-time low, while landlords of rent-stabilized apartments say an increasing number of units are uninhabitable

Adams announced a “moonshot” goal in 2022 of adding 500,000 new housing units in New York City over the next decade, but residential construction in the city has slowed dramatically with the expiration of a critical tax abatement and increases in costs and interest rates.

Adams is also trying to push through a sweeping set of zoning reforms that he said would allow the construction of an additional 100,000 units. That proposal will enter public review this spring.

CORRECTION, MARCH 11, 6 P.M. ET: Cirrus Workforce Housing is partnering in the new affordable housing fund. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Cirrus Real Estate Partners was the entity directly involved in the fund. This story has been updated.