Avanath Capital Management is a multifamily owner and operator with more than 15,000 affordable and workforce housing units across the U.S. Lotus is proud to have worked with them over the last several years as we have expanded our pilot program in Charlotte. We sat down with John Williams, President and Chief Investment Officer of Avanath, to learn more about what drives their business decisions and their perspective on the state of housing.
1. In two sentences, who is Avanath?
Avanath Capital Management is a multifamily owner and operator with more than 15,000 affordable and workforce housing units across the US, totaling over $3.5 billion in AUM. Our mission is to preserve affordability in underserved markets where the need and demand for quality affordable and workforce housing is extremely strong, approaching each investment with a social impact and ESG mindset.
2. How did Avanath first get connected to Lotus Campaign?
The organization has an excellent reputation, which our investment team became familiar with over the past few years through our activity and partnerships in the Southeast. We look forward to continuing to support the Lotus Campaign as they expand the scope of their impact and geographic footprint.
3. Why does Lotus Campaign's mission of expanding housing for those experiencing homelessness resonate with Avanath and what inspires you most about Lotus?
Avanath is aligned with the Lotus Campaign in our commitment to bringing about meaningful change through a holistic approach. Through our dedicated Renaissance Fund, we both invest in the brick-and-mortar real estate to preserve and create affordable and workforce housing, as well as in the services and activities that enhance the communities.
We are inspired by the Lotus Campaign’s multipronged approach to Connect, Create, and Educate with the goal of both serving the immediate needs of individuals experiencing homelessness, in addition to creating long-term change through education, partnerships, and advocacy.
4. What are some other ways that Avanath lives its ESG framework?
Avanath has always recognized the significance and impact of ESG initiatives and believes these practices help create long-term value for our investors all while establishing socially beneficial environments for our residents.
Over the past few years, we have implemented a variety of ESG initiatives and even achieved accomplishments across the environmental, social, and governance components of our company and Amplify ESG program. For example:
A key component to effectively making a positive impact environmentally is viewing it from a data-based perspective. Therefore, we have increased our data coverage and tracking for energy, water, and waste through tools such as Yardi, Tableau, and ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. To create an even more tailored analysis, we created a proprietary ESG KPI dashboard to aid in setting targets and tracking progress.
In addition to using data as a tool to make an environmental impact, our initiatives also include utilizing solar technologies, focusing on carbon reduction, sourcing green power, implementing water savings methods, investing in EG charging, and expanding community gardens.
Out of all three components of ESG, we believe the social component is what can provide the most immediate impact to our residents and communities. Recently, we have worked with more than 50 community organizations to provide optimal social programs at our communities in an effort to better the health and wellness of our residents.
Avanath’s social initiatives include health exams, after school programs, financial literacy classes, personal and professional development workshops, language translation services, transportation services, and Wellbeats fitness, nutrition, and mindfulness program among multiple others. Programs are strategically selected after a thorough assessment of resident needs at each community.
As a Black-owned investment firm and with a management team comprising a variety of leaders with uniquely diverse backgrounds, Avanath values hiring a diverse team of individuals all of whom bring different perspectives. In fact, more than 81% of the firm’s employees are of a minority class, including the majority of the leadership team. By having a diverse executive team, we can lead by example as we consistently implement diversity and unconscious bias training, disseminate biennial employment surveys, and track employee diversity and training.
Our dedication to governance does not end at our corporate office, but it is also embedded into our communities as our objective is to increase the availability of affordable housing to individuals of all backgrounds.
5. What would you say to encourage others in your sector to donate to an organization like Lotus?
Solving the country’s affordability crisis is simply too large a challenge for one sector to tackle alone. Creative solutions and collaboration—between the private sector, public sector, and non-profit groups like Lotus Campaign—are key in order to ensure that families and individuals of all income levels have access to the housing they need.
As the US continues to navigate an affordability crisis as well as a period of increased economic uncertainty this year, rent-regulated housing is increasingly essential to the ability of residents to live comfortably and thrive in markets throughout the country. Dedicated, solutions-oriented organizations like the Lotus Campaign take a proactive approach that is often required to effect real change in this space, on both small and large scales.