The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust is committed to investing pension capital in projects that not only produce competitive returns – its primary objective – but also generate union construction jobs with family-supporting wages and benefits. All on-site construction on HIT-financed projects is performed under collective bargaining agreements with the building and construction trades unions. As one of the earliest and most successful practitioners of socially responsible investing, the HIT is experienced in delivering competitive returns for its investors while putting union members to work on projects that meet the housing needs of their communities.
In more than four decades of investing, the HIT has generated over 80,860 jobs for union members in the construction trades and related industries. Some of the HIT’s most recent job-generating projects can be viewed here.
The ability to generate good jobs is especially important in times of high unemployment. As part of the AFL-CIO’s response to the Great Recession, the HIT launched its Construction Jobs Initiative with the goal of financing 10,000 union construction jobs. With support from its investors, the HIT quickly met that target and has twice expanded the initiative after reaching its job creation goals. At the urging of its Board of Trustees, the HIT is now working toward a new goal of creating 25,000 union construction jobs by year-end 2015. These construction-related investments are contributing to the HIT’s competitive performance as they generate good jobs, create affordable housing, and serve as an economic stimulus to local communities.
Construction activity serves as an economic catalyst for communities because it creates employment in many sectors of the economy through what is known as the multiplier effect. Funds like the HIT, which finance construction activity, make a significant beneficial impact on communities beyond their direct investments. This contrasts with many other fixed-income funds that have little or no effect on job creation in the local or national economy.
The HIT’s success in creating jobs results from an exceptional knowledge of housing finance and the ability to source investments that meet its union labor requirements. Its full-time labor relations staff makes sure that those labor policies are carried out effectively at every project it finances. These capabilities make the HIT one of the foremost sources of finance for housing projects that employ union members.
As a fund created by the union movement, the HIT has always placed a high priority on job creation as a part of a responsible investment strategy. In the words of the AFL-CIO’s first president, George Meany, in 1964:
“The pooling of funds will provide an effective medium to construct socially desirable housing projects, and at the same time create additional and continuing employment for the construction trades and industries.”
That vision guided the creation of the HIT’s predecessor and continues to guide the HIT today.