Affordable housing is an extremely important subject impacting millions, and Summer Haltli is applying her expertise to help with this crucial issue.
Principal at privately held real estate investment company FCP, Haltli was invited to speak at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in March 2023 about private capital investment in multifamily affordable and workforce housing. Her appearance at the event, which was in conjunction with a paper the Bank released on the topic and which featured several thought leaders from multiple industries, provided a platform for Haltli to share information about FCP’s work in preserving affordable housing and delivering resident services to improve education, health, and economic mobility.
“With a shortage of an estimated 4 million housing units nationwide today and growing, it is critical for the public and private sectors to partner together to preserve and create more affordable housing,” Haltli says, noting that the United States currently faces an affordable housing supply contraction in both for-sale and rental housing, with the latter continuing to shrink at an alarming rate. She cites research from real estate listing service Zillow that finds that the incomes from four full-time minimum wage earners are necessary in order to reasonably afford rent for a two-bedroom property.
But housing affordability isn’t just impacting certain areas of the country or pricing out people from particular walks of life or income levels. Haltli insists that the problem affects everyone from employees and students at UVA to hospital workers, police, firefighters, civil servants, business owners, and those who work for them: “all people who serve essential roles to a functioning society.”
A Sustainable, Private Sector Solution
Haltli and her colleagues at FCP are applying their profound multifamily real estate knowledge to serve as a private sector solution to the housing crisis. She explains that while existing government programs are helpful, the housing supply they produce falls far short of what is necessary to correct the problem.
Haltli co-founded and serves as fund manager for FCP’s investment strategy dedicated to long-term affordable housing creation and preservation. Haltli and the FCP team collaborate with six organizations to deliver services to improve the resident experience and retention, including after-school programs, financial counseling, and rental assistance support. For FCP, she says it makes clear financial sense as well: “Properties with affordable rent levels remain highly occupied, even in economic downturns, and can deliver sustainable, bond-like returns to investors through distributions and long-term appreciation.”
Additionally, Haltli joined with FCP and her colleagues in the industry to found the Multifamily Impact Council, and she serves as its Vice Chair. The nonprofit, dedicated to standardizing the practice of multifamily impact investing across the U.S., aims to provide transparent standards and a reporting framework for investors as the organization strives to attract more private sector capital focused on housing affordability. The Council claims 40 founding members, including both housing finance agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as several other national stakeholders.
Housing projects also beget the sustainability question, a pivotal concern that Haltli says drives FCP to evaluate and reduce utility consumption and costs within each property.
“Over the past five years, we completed 184 energy-efficiency projects across our portfolio, resulting in a 17% return on investment, and 38 water-efficiency projects, resulting in a 70% return on investment,” she reports. “Reducing utility consumption is a win-win—saving money for both residents and investors.”
When it comes to making strides in sustainability, the process poses less of a challenge for Haltli than breaking down the myths around affordable housing. Haltli notes affordable and workforce housing has actually produced the highest returns with the lowest volatility in the entire multifamily sector during the past 20 years.
“Affordable housing is a bipartisan issue. I would like to see more collaboration between the private sector and the government to boost the supply of quality, affordable housing. The private sector, including endowments, foundations, pensions, and retail investors, serve an important role here, particularly since their constituents are directly affected by the housing crisis,” she says.
A Future Built on Grounds
As “a proud double Hoo,” Haltli found her future in real estate, crediting Professor George Overstreet with sparking her interest in the subject as a potential career path: “Through one of the speakers in his class, I learned about a job interview and then landed my first job.”
While an undergrad at McIntire, she honed her public-speaking skills and learned to become a strategic thinker who solves problems through teamwork and financial analysis.
As a graduate student at Darden, she joined with a classmate to co-found the Rotunda Fund, a student-run investment fund that evaluates equities based on value and sustainability metrics. “I remember presenting the Fund for approval to the Darden Board of Trustees, which translates well to what I am doing today: presenting and managing a fund utilizing both financial and impact metrics. I see entrepreneurship as one of the fastest methods to solving some of the world’s most pressing challenges, and I appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit encouraged at Darden.”
Now a member of the newly renamed White Ruffin Byron Center for Real Estate Advisory Board, Haltli explains that she was honored to accept the role to collaborate with Overstreet and the late Professor Drew Sanderford, as well as Robert Byron and many others involved in founding the center. Haltli, a former undergraduate classmate of Sanderford and a prior guest speaker in his class, describes Sanderford as a “light to the world. Drew fostered an engaging learning environment that encouraged students to think broadly about utilizing business to promote positive outcomes for people and the planet.”
“Real estate is a powerful career. What we build and plan today will last the next 100-plus years and affect generations,” she says. Haltli believes it’s imperative to have responsible leaders who are representative of our society become an integral part of the real estate industry. She sees a parallel with efforts being made within the University and being carried out by the Center. It’s a cause for optimism.
“UVA, with its mission to develop ‘responsible citizen leaders’ and its numerous thought-leading schools, is the perfect spot to host a prominent real estate center,” she says. “It will graduate students who will make a positive difference in the industry and the world.”