Social fund of the year: Bridge Workforce and Affordable Housing Fund
Bridge Investment Group leads one of the largest, private fund affordable housing investment solutions in the United States.
As an owner and operator of approximately 36,800 multifamily and workforce and affordable housing units (including approximately 12,500 workforce and affordable housing units), and a nearly 30-year history (dating to Bridge's founding partners) of investing in multifamily and workforce and affordable housing, Bridge Workforce and Affordable Housing Fund (BWAHF) aims to meaningfully improve the lives of its residents through access to quality affordable housing and investing in communities that have historically experienced underinvestment.
For example, as of Q1 2021, 82% of Bridge's Workforce and Affordable Housing units satisfy the requirements for affordable housing to low- or moderate-income individuals earning less than 80% of Area Median Income (AMI), and 98% of rents at such units are below 30% of 80% of AMI.
In addition, Bridge allocates 25 basis points of its management fee in BWAHF and its successor fund to social and community programs at workforce and affordable housing assets. This translates to millions of dollars expected to be dedicated to three pillars across Bridge-managed communities over the course of the fund and its successor fund: Bridge to Education, Bridging the Gap to Financial Wellness, Bridge to Healthy Communities.
Furthermore, Bridge reports on how its environmental programmes impact utility costs for residents, and explores new ways to implement further environmental initiatives, such as evaluating each new workforce and affordable housing asset for solar power feasibility.
Also last year, Bridge allocated $2.8 million in financial support across its communities, with 100% of qualifying BWAHF resident applicants receiving financial support from the Bridge CARES: Covid-19 Relief Funds.
"We pride ourselves on seeking attractive returns for our investors while improving the lives of our residents," commented Charlotte Morse, director of investor relations and marketing at Bridge Investment Group. "Through our Bridge Community Enhancement Initiative, we sponsor robust community, environmental, and social programming at each of the properties within our Bridge Workforce and Affordable Housing funds, administered by our non-profit partner of many years, Project Access. These programs are designed to advance social and economic mobility at no cost to residents.
One Sustainable Investment Awards judge praised the fund for its "comprehensive strategy with strong community engagement and clear emphasis on outcome metrics."
To communicate the fund's social impact, Bridge has chosen to adopt the Global Impact Investing Network IRIS metrics, including those aligned with UN SDGs, on pillars that include Affordability, Social and Economic Mobility and Environmental Sustainability. Additionally, as a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment ("UNPRI"), Bridge recently completed its first report submission to UNPRI on a firmwide level, as well as is in the final stages of completing its submission to the Global ESG Benchmark for Real Assets for BWAFHF.