Fairstead, a major affordable housing developer and owner, has announced a $100 million commitment to invest in proptech startups and bring leading-edge technology to its properties and residents.
“The creation of Fairstead Ventures advances our dedication to fundamentally changing the standards in the housing industry, particularly at the intersection of sustainability and affordability,” said Jeffrey Goldberg, CEO of Fairstead. “By utilizing our capital and expertise in private equity and venture investing, we will bring innovative solutions to affordable housing nationwide.”
The initiative calls for deploying technologies across Fairstead’s affordable housing portfolio, which is on track to grow to more than 30,000 units over the next year, according to officials. The new effort will focus on decarbonization, energy, and sustainability improvements.
Aki Karja, the company’s director of proptech, has been tapped to realize Fairstead Ventures’ vision to sustainably retrofit aging affordable housing stock with the latest technology solutions while creating state-of-the-art new developments. Fairstead Ventures will act as a strategic investor piloting innovative products and services and scaling new and proven technologies to enterprise level.
“For too long, affordable housing has been underserved in tech, even though the impact could be immense,” Karja said. “I will be looking for innovative new startups to invest in and pilot at our properties, as well as venture capital firms to partner and co-invest with, to green our communities and improve the health of our residents. I am honored to work with the Fairstead team to ensure affordable housing benefits from advancements in the tech industry and bring our leadership team’s vision to life.”
Fairstead Ventures has begun leveraging some of its funds toward innovative pilot programs and strategic partnerships. It has entered into a strategic partnership with Enviro Power, a Hartford, Connecticut-based energy-tech company, to develop and deploy its SmartWatt Boiler cogeneration technology. Additionally, through a partnership with Kwant AI, Fairstead has deployed an AI safety and productivity platform while redeveloping Park 79, a shuttered hotel that it acquired and is converting into affordable housing for seniors on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
The launch of Fairstead Ventures is part of Fairstead’s $500 million equity commitment announced last fall to strategically grow the company’s operations, including expanding its multifamily housing portfolio and enhancing the firm's proptech, sustainability, and community impact programming.