$500 Million AFL-CIO Trust in Houston
The $500 M will be used to fund the rebuilding of union built affordable housing in the hurricane ravaged city
With many areas of Houston facing years of rebuilding, the AFL-CIO has announced that they are interested in stepping in and investing $500 Million in long term investments to rebuild affordable housing in the city and to rebuild it with good union labor.
The five-year investment comes from the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT). They will be working with the city of Houston, the Houston Housing Authority, and local community leaders to bring jobs and new affordable housing back to the city. While this is an important infusion of cash, especially since it is geared towards making sure that the stock of affordable housing gets rebuilt, it will also mean that this part of the rebuilding effort will be done by union members. As UCOMM recently reported, there is a push by Republicans to suspend Davis-Bacon during the rebuild, meaning that much of the work with done without having to adhere to prevailing wage rules.
The AFL-CIO HIT is a mutual fund that union pensions can invest in. Just like a Wall St. mutual fund, the pension fund can buy into it and receive safe and reliable returns. The only difference is that this fund is completely owned by unions and it only invests in socially responsible projects. Since it was formed in 1981, the trust has invested tens of billions of dollars in socially responsible projects that are important to working men and women, including expanding affordable housing, projects that create union jobs, helping working families buy homes, and revitalizing communities that union members live in. Through their investments, the trust ensures that new development is done union and includes important projects like apprenticeship training to train the next generation of union tradesmen.
The redevelopment of Houston will reshape the city. If Davis-Bacon is suspended, much of the rebuild will be done with low-wage, low-skilled, non-union labor. It is important for union members to realize this when they decide to send money to help rebuild the area. While you can’t guarantee that money donated to many of the big charities, like the American Red Cross, will go to support good jobs, donations to union backed funds like the Texas Worker Relief Fund will support union members and good union jobs. Through AFL-CIO HIT, the trust is able to be a part of the rebuilding effort while ensuring that work provides good, well paying, union jobs to the tradesmen of Houston.