- May 03, 2017
When I was writing an article several years ago on philanthropy in real estate, the first executive I wanted to interview was David Rifkind. I’d gotten to know David in 2005 when I was writing a profile of George Smith Partners, the Los Angeles-based investment banking firm he co-founded. A striking part of that earlier story was the eponymous founder’s leadership in raising funds for research to combat the rare disease that had claimed the life of his daughter.
David himself kept busy with multiple charities, but I also wanted to speak with him about philanthropy because his words stayed with you. “We don’t dictate how you do it,” he said during our interview. “We just care that you’re passionate about social activism and you do something about it. … It’s an absolute expectation.”
Lately I’ve been thinking about David, only partly because it’s been almost a year since we chatted for the last time. As you may know, David died in January of a rare, rapidly progressing neurological disease. His untimely passing is, of course, a painful loss for the multifamily industry, to say nothing of his family and colleagues. Besides being a first-class financier, he was cheerful, funny and gentlemanly, the sort of fellow who signed his emails “Kindly, David.”
David Rifkind’s words about philanthropy bring to mind two executives featured in this issue who incorporate a passion for social activism into their work every day. Since starting Avanath Capital Management in 2008, Daryl Carter has built an 8,000-unit, coast-to-coast portfolio of affordable housing. As Sanyu Kyeyune reports in her absorbing profile, Carter applies value engineering to save residents money, and sponsors community education programs and meet-ups with local officials.
The May issue also features a wide-ranging interview with Matthew Rieger of Housing Trust Group, which incorporates upscale amenities into its affordable and senior communities. “I’m often approached by residents who say, ‘Thank you. I’ve never lived in a place this nice before,’ Rieger told Alexandra Pacurar. “I love delivering for my investors and partners, but it feels just as good, or better, to welcome a hard-working person or family into a home they can take pride in.” You’ll never hear a better description of the twin rewards of developing affordable housing.
Multifamily professionals can reap the financial benefits of mastering a complex, endlessly evolving business. At the same time, the business is in a unique position to strengthen the fragile fabric of our communities. Executives like David Rifkind, Daryl Carter and Matthew Rieger show us not only how to do well, but how to do good.
Originally appearing in the May 2017 issue of MHN.