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NYC Teachers Fund Pledges $1 Billion for Post-Sandy Rebuilding

New York City’s teacher pension fund pledged to invest $1 billion to rebuild infrastructure and housing damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Bridge repairs, housing, electric power and water systems are among the projects that will be considered for investment by the pension’s seven-member board, which controlled assets valued at $46 billion as of Sept. 30, fund officials said today.

“Hurricane Sandy has brought those needs into keener focus, and I am happy to stand here today and say that the teachers of New York City are taking a leadership role in helping to rebuild our city and state,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, in remarks prepared for a news briefing at the Manhattan office of former President Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative.

Sandy, the biggest Atlantic storm on record, came ashore Oct. 29, pounding New York with winds of as much as 100 miles (160 kilometers) an hour, killing more than 40 city residents flooding thousands of homes, transit tunnels and underground utilities. President Barack Obama last week asked Congress to appropriate more than $60 billion to aid rebuilding coastal areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, which suffered the most damage.

Purchasing Bonds

The Teachers Retirement System, with board members chosen by the union, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and city Comptroller John Liu, will make investments in the form of bonds purchased from owners of the projects or by taking an equity stake, said Liu, who acts as custodian of New York’s $128 billion pension system. The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

The city has five pension funds that provide benefits to teachers, school administrators, firefighters, police and civil servants. Other funds may also participate in similar projects, Liu said in an interview last week. Projects will be selected by investment professionals in Liu’s office, who will make recommendations to the trustees, Liu said.

Today’s proposal represents an expansion of a program the comptroller’s office has used since the 1980s to advise pension funds in allocating 2 percent of their assets for so-called economically targeted investments. Those deals provide capital for projects in New York’s poor and working-class neighborhoods, Liu said last week.

The pension fund’s pledge is part of a commitment national labor leaders made last June at a meeting of Clinton’s Global Initiative to provide capital and skilled workers in projects to improve the U.S. economy, the Global Initiative said in a news release. Clinton’s nonprofit organization convenes world leaders every year to share ideas and policies dealing with social and environmental issues.

U.S. Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, joined Clinton, Liu and Mulgrew to make the announcement.

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