Skip to content

Kresge makes $10M investment in National Housing Trust to support mixed-income, mixed-use developments

Social Investment Practice

The Kresge Foundation announced today a $10 million program-related equity investment to the National Housing Trust (NHT) to renovate existing multi-family housing units in four U.S. geographies to develop new mixed-income, mixed-unit properties in high-opportunity neighborhoods.

The program will work in Baltimore, Chicago, New Jersey and West Hartford, Connecticut beginning this winter. The foundation has also made a $150,000, three-year grant to support NHT’s policy work on fair housing requirements in high-opportunity neighborhoods.

The investment is part of a new channel of work for Kresge’s social investing team, a focus on investing in mixed-income, mixed-use developments that promote health and equity, that are adaptive to and build resiliency to climate change, and/or that are transit-oriented.

Clarendon Arms, in Clarendon Hills, IL has 84 units and is identified as a potential development through this initiative. 

“We believe that the right housing opportunities can provide a platform for greater family stability and life outcomes for low-income people,” said Kresge Social Investment Practice Managing Director Kimberlee Cornett. “By investing in developments that are both affordable and in proximity to high quality schools, retail districts and transit, we think we can improve outcomes for vulnerable people and demonstrate the importance of looking at affordable housing in the broader context of the community in which its located.”

The NHT developments will include substantial energy-efficiency improvements and will locate in blue-ribbon school districts. NHT will coordinate with local housing agencies to make available at least 20 percent of units to Section 8 renters.

While investing in mixed-income, mixed-use development as a way to bolster outcomes for low-income people is not a new practice, Kresge Social Investment Officer Aaron Seybert said the field needs better data to define the benefits of these developments and the link to the intended positive outcomes for low-income residents. To that end, Kresge will pair its investments in this space with rigorous evaluations and will share those findings with the field.

In this investment, evaluators will track education outcomes for students living in participating developments to see whether opening affordable housing units in areas with traditionally high performing schools leads to better outcomes.

“Creating housing choice under a model that is focused on the outcomes of tenants could create a national conversation around public housing and how it is serving the lowest income residents in the U.S.,” Seybert said. “By focusing on educational outcomes in high opportunity neighborhoods, we are linking public housing authority assessments with their corresponding public school districts in a way that has not been tested at this scale.”

NHT developed this strategy to demonstrate the viability of mixed income housing in high opportunity neighborhoods using existing buildings and without the need for additional subsidy.

NHT President Michael Bodaken adds: “We may also learn more about building social fabric and income diversity beyond what the initial mixed-income literature can tell us.”