Actress Eva Longoria has a new role—affordable housing investor.

Actress Eva Longoria  and Bobby Turner, head of Turner Impact Capital, are behind a new fund that's acquired 2,500 workforce housing units in Florida, Maryland, Nevada, and Texas and is looking to buy more.
Seth Joel Actress Eva Longoria and Bobby Turner, head of Turner Impact Capital, are behind a new fund that's acquired 2,500 workforce housing units in Florida, Maryland, Nevada, and Texas and is looking to buy more.

The “Desperate Housewives” star has joined forces with Turner Impact Capital, where she will be both a partner and an ambassador for the firm’s latest fund, which seeks to “acquire, enrich, and preserve” workforce housing for families earning no more than 80% of the area median income (AMI) and live in densely populated, ethnically diverse urban communities in the United States.

Since its launch last year, the Turner Multifamily Impact Fund has purchased about a half dozen properties with nearly 2,500 units in Florida, Maryland, Nevada, and Texas and is in line to acquire many more apartments.

“We felt the need to go into triage mode,” Bobby Turner, principal and CEO of Turner Impact Capital, tells Affordable Housing Finance. “There’s huge demand for (workforce) housing, no new supply, and the existing supply is shrinking. We’ve got to stop that.”

The fund has raised about $200 million of its initial $300 million target, according to Turner, who hopes to acquire about 10,000 units. The goal is to buy roughly 3,000 units every 12 months. Investors include Citi Community Capital, the University of Michigan endowment, the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, and Longoria.

The fund is structured as a private real estate investment trust.

“We’re buying non-regulated housing,” Turner says. “We’re buying existing market-rate workforce housing and preserving the rents in those properties for the benefit of workforce families.”

The fund’s business model is to buy existing Class B and C properties when it comes on the market and buy restricted affordable housing when it comes off its compliance period. Turner says he will then “enrich” the properties with resident services such as education and health-care programs. The idea is to create a “pride in rentership” that will drive operating efficiencies and profitability. The fund hopes to reduce resident turnover and reduce expenses rather than increase rents.

The fund has not purchased any properties built under the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program, the nation’s main tool for developing affordable housing for households earning up to 60% of the AMI. Turner wants to stay away from properties that may come with restrictions, and he’s trying to reach households earning approximately 60% to 80% of the AMI, a group that earns too much to qualify for a LIHTC unit or other subsidized housing but not enough to afford higher-cost, market-rate apartments.

Longoria, who has developed a reputation as a strong advocate for women and the Latino community, will help raise awareness about the shortage of workforce housing and highlight the potential for market-driven solutions.

“Communities, the environment, worker productivity, and household well-being all suffer when affordable housing is not in close proximity to jobs. In addition, the fact that one in four renter households spend over 50% of their income on rent is not sustainable,” she says in a statement. “I am thrilled to partner with the Turner Impact Capital team to highlight the great promise of urban investment in underserved communities, an issue close to my heart.”’

The investment strategies will directly benefit a broad cross-section of urban residents, including Latinos, the youngest and one of the fastest-growing demographics groups in the country, says Longoria.

The actress is the latest big name to partner with Turner, who has also worked with tennis champion Andre Agassi and basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

Los Angeles-based Turner Impact Capital is one of the largest firms dedicated to social impact investing—an investment approach that takes into account generating positive financial returns and creating measurable, positive social or environmental impact through its investments. It’s on course to surpass $2.5 billion in investment potential to help address some of the country’s most pervasive social issues through real estate and infrastructure-related solutions.

The firm’s Turner-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund has built 64 charter schools over the past three years.

Before starting his current firm, Turner co-founded and led Canyon Capital Realty Advisors, where he oversaw a commercial real estate and mortgage asset portfolio totaling over $12 billion and was responsible for launching several notable funds, including the Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds that’s developed a variety of properties across the country.