Colby Hamilton, Writer, WNYC News
Colby Hamilton is a general assignment reporter. He originally joined WNYC as a political blogger. He's a proud graduate of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
One of the biggest arguments by defenders of the public pension system as it works now is the power the funds can wield to do good in the world. New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio would like to see the city’s fund do a little bit better.
De Blasio called on the city’s largest pension fund to expand its investment in local housing and infrastructure projects. According to a statement from his office, the Public Advocate—in his capacity as a trustee on the New York City Employee Retirement System (NYCERS)—has sent two resolutions to the NYCERS fund: one calling for an immediate investment of $350 million in “local affordable housing investment”, and another requesting the fund put together a plan for investing in local infrastructure by May.
“We are leaving resources on the table that we should be putting to work right here in the five boroughs,” de Blasio said in a statement. “This is a very real opportunity to do right by our bottom line as a pension fund and spur job creation at the same time.”
According to a monthly review of the fund conducted in November of last year, NYCERS was falling short of its target of investing 2 percent in local investments by about half (1.2 percent). According to deBlasio, simply meeting this target would allow the fund to invest the additional money now.
Comptroller John Liu’s spokesperson Mike Loughran said in a statement that this is currently one of the investment opportunities Liu is looking at.
“We continue to review a pipeline of potential [Economically Targeting Investments] ETI investments, the flow of which has been reduced by the recession. Since last summer, we have engaged in discussions with our Trustees, including the Public Advocate, about the issue of infrastructure investments and ETIs,” Loughran wrote, noting that Liu intends to address this issue in his State of the City speech on Thursday. “We commend our fellow Trustee and Public Advocate for his focus on this issue and look forward to working with him further."