Greystone Spins Off Affordable Housing Arm to Founder’s Nonprofit

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Harmony Housing, a nonprofit founded by Greystone CEO Stephen Rosenberg, is acquiring Greystone’s affordable housing development arm, the real estate company announced Wednesday. 

The nonprofit affordable housing owner will take over the development and advisory business of Greystone Affordable Development, which finances and builds affordable housing nationwide. Greystone will continue to manage the properties, which are located in suburban and rural parts of Florida, Illinois, South Carolina, Texas, Indiana and Wisconsin. Despite sharing a founder, Greystone and Harmony operate independently of each other. A Greystone spokesperson declined to comment on the terms of the deal. 

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 Although Greystone Affordable has mostly focused on arranging financing for affordable projects, it completed its first new construction building, a 70-unit property for low-income seniors in Hudson, N.C., last June. It also has two more low-income affordable housing projects under construction in North Carolina: a 132-unit development in Charlotte and 192 units in Raleigh. And, in downtown Durham, N.C., Greystone and Harmony have 1,000 apartments, 42,000 square feet of office and 20,000 square feet of retail under construction on land owned by the local housing authority.

Harmony, which Rosenberg launched in 2014, has built and preserved 17,000 units of income-restricted affordable housing. It sold more than 10,000 of those homes and apartments in April 2023, when it unloaded 90 properties to The Michaels Organization and Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group for $1.2 billion, according to a joint press release from the companies. Harmony directs cash flow from its properties to more affordable acquisitions or to charities, according to trade publication Multi-Housing News

“Harmony Housing’s impact on the communities it serves and its leadership within the affordable housing industry have been clear and admirable from day one, and we are excited to be closely aligned with a mission-driven group in our joint efforts to develop and preserve safe and quality housing for those who need it most,” said Tanya Eastwood, the head of Harmony Housing Affordable Development.

Last year, Greystone’s affordable arm picked up 855 units in Greenville, Spartanburg and Columbia, S.C., for $118 million. Earlier in the pandemic, it also helped arrange $121 million in financing to fund the redevelopment of 800 apartments in Texas. 

A Greystone spokesperson said that Harmony plans to start acquiring more properties to rebuild its portfolio. It also aims to get involved in more nonprofit affordable housing deals, both acquisitions for rehabilitation and new construction buildings.  

“Since we began our effort of acquiring affordable housing properties for the sole purpose of enriching others’ lives and making charitable contributions to humanitarian causes with excess proceeds, our expectations have been surpassed,” said Jim O’Connell, the president of Harmony Housing. “To work more closely with the affordable development team on projects that can be enhanced with our combined efforts and strengths is going to help us reach our goals of making an even stronger impact on the world.”

Rebecca Baird-Remba can be reached at rbairdremba@commercialobserver.com