COVID-19

A Note from Harrison Street’s Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO, Christopher Merrill: 

The world today is in a challenging and uncertain place.  Much like everyone else, Harrison Street is doing our best to navigate through this together.  The safety and well-being of our employees, residents, tenants and communities is our main priority.  Our goal is to ensure that we get through this together and come out stronger on the other side.  At the investment level we are committed to working diligently to continue to deliver appropriate risk adjusted returns across all of our products. 

We are pleased that our team has been able to fast-track access to vacant suites within our medical office portfolio to help alleviate the strains on existing space and generate additional surge capacity necessary to combat COVID-19.  We have also fast-tracked the approval for drive-in testing in the parking lots of our medical facilities enabling us to keep this process outdoors and away from non COVID-19 patients. In addition, our best-in-class operating partners continue to provide remarkable care to our senior residents during this very challenging time.

At the corporate level, we are ensuring our employees’ safety by implementing a 100% work from home policy, connecting employees through video conference calls and daily emails featuring different employees, providing transparency through firmwide townhalls and keeping employees active through weekly virtual fitness classes.  Additionally, we are partnering with My Block, My Hood, My City to support seniors living at home during this critical time.

When developing our business model 15 years ago, we spent significant time thinking through how to establish a company that would be more resilient in the face of unknown events. The strength and thoughtfulness of our investment thesis, the rigor of our policies and procedures and the cohesiveness of our team and culture were built to withstand market disruptions like today. While we appreciate that no assets are recession-proof, we believe our demographic-driven, needs-based assets are more resilient than those that are more correlated to the broader economic market, such as assets driven by GDP and job-growth. We do not anticipate the COVID-19 crisis to have a long-term negative impact on the sectors in which we focus. We believe students’ desire to participate in the traditional college experience of learning and living on or near campuses will continue. There is a strong rationale that real estate demand to support the Life Sciences industry and Medical Office practices will strengthen as a result. Demand for Self Storage is driven by life change events, such as disaster, death, divorce, downsizing and military deployment, all of which will continue to occur regardless of the general economy. For Senior Housing, we believe our communities will be recognized for their preparedness and the high degree of care provided to senior residents during COVID-19 outbreak. If borne out, this would continue to separate our communities from others and would ultimately be an opportunity to highlight the safe and controlled environment our communities provide for their residents.  For seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia, finding the right community is time sensitive and will remain a priority for many families. Finally, our Social Infrastructure business continues to find attractive investment opportunities in the renewable energy sector and our ongoing discussions with Universities and Health systems related to symbiotic Public to Private Partnerships will be needed more than ever. 

It is in uncertain times like today that I find comfort not only in the strength of Harrison Street’s underlying investment thesis but also our team of domain experts and our network of best-in-class operating partners.  We remain steadfast in our focus of generating attractive investment performance on behalf of our investors which includes public pension plans for city employees, firefighters, police officers and teachers. Rest assured, the entire Harrison Street ecosystem remains committed to the goal of producing the best outcomes for all stakeholders.  I want to personally thank everyone for their hard work and deep commitment to your colleagues, our investors, partners, residents and the success of our business.

Christopher Merrill
Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO

Our Courageous Caregivers

When we first launched our platform 15 years ago, we set out to align our firm with the strongest senior housing operators in the industry. During this time, not only are we grateful to have accomplished our goal, but we have learned so much about the industry, healthcare, hospitality and humanity of the business. Our operators have provided front line workers with experiences, opportunities and personal and professional growth, and while compassion cannot be taught, our operators have nurtured it with strong company cultures. The bond between the staff/caregivers and the residents and their families is paramount.

On July 16, 2020, over 430 Harrison Street employees, family members and friends across the US and Europe participated in our Staying Apart, Together 5K to show appreciation and support for our senior housing partners and frontline employees as they tirelessly care for our 12,000 residents. Even with the best frontline workers in the industry, the stress, fatigue and emotional trauma associated with caring for the needs of senior residents, while maintaining strict protocols, during the pandemic has taken its toll on staff and their families. The firm donated $100 per 5K participant that will be shared across our partners for the direct benefit of their employees. To all the caregivers in our communities, thank you for your tireless efforts to support those who need it most!

We would like to feature some of our best-in-class partners
for the care they continue to provide residents and employees:

Bristal Assisted Living Logo

Gita Shorr, a 90-year-old great grandmother who survived the Holocaust, returned safely to our Bristal Assisted Living community after battling COVID-19 for more than two months. Welcome home Gita!

The Springs Living Logo

During this time of social distancing, The Springs Living has residents engaged in bowling in the hallways, making sock monkeys on Easter, and having video calls with family members.

Button

Thrive Senior Living Logo

Thrive Senior Living introduced a concept called “Clear Connection” which is an 8’ x 10’ clear panel that allows loved ones to be only inches away from one another and remain safe.

Belmont Village Logo

Belmont Village created new uniforms and magnets for their employees that they can proudly wear and place on their cars that state “I AM ESSENTIAL!” 

Franklin Park Logo

The staff at Franklin Park Alamo Heights organized a surprise parade for one of our residents, Irene Wilson, to celebrate her 105th birthday.

Harrison Street’s Contributions

In Our Community:
My Block, My Hood, My City

Harrison Street is proud to support the efforts of our non-profit partner, My Block, My Hood, My City (“MBMHMC”).  What started as a D&I initiative around raising awareness and a talk by Jahmal Cole for Black History Month, has developed into a strategic partnership working together to better the Chicago community through volunteering and educating students in the MBMHMC program on the investment management industry.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now working with MBMHMC to keep seniors who reside in their homes safe by providing necessary supplies, food, and regular wellness calls. In addition to Harrison Street providing a monetary donation for this effort, over 80% of our employees are making weekly wellness calls to “de-isolate” seniors at home while conducting a verbal check on their physical and emotional well-being. This is being done in close coordination with MBMHMC to ensure we are able to act timely on any needs identified. We are grateful for the work of MBMHMC and happy we can help make an impact during this time of uncertainty. 

More information on the organization can be found here.

In Our Culture: Our People

Harrison Street’s team of 150+ employees remains one of the greatest assets of the firm. The team consists of subject matter experts in alternative real assets investing and remains 100% committed to our business with unwavering focus to ensure we deliver on performance expectations for our investors. All employees are working from the safety of their homes. To ensure we continue to support each other while maintaining our culture in this time of social distancing and uncertainty, Harrison Street has implemented the following:

  • Support flexible work schedules with full pay as many of our employees are caring for children and/or senior parents 
  • Delivered Remote Work Kits to all employees including a computer monitor, wireless keyboard and wireless mouse to augment the use of laptops
  • Feature three employees a day through our “staying connected” email series 
  • Provide a variety of weekly virtual fitness classes to encourage employees to stay active during this time  
  • Host firmwide webinars to provide regular updates throughout our business

In Our Investments: Providing Space

A lot of proactive work was done in early March to be in position to assist where we can in a timely and efficient manner with space utilization for COVID-19 treatment, including: 

  • We have fast-tracked access to vacant suites within our clinical medical portfolio to large health systems, mid-size practices, as well as individual practitioners to help alleviate the strains on their space and generate additional surge capacity necessary to combat COVID-19
  • Fast-tracked the approval for drive-in testing in the parking lots of several of our medical facilities enabling us to keep this use outdoors and far from the entrance of our facilities. This is across our portfolio (east coast, mid Atlantic, Midwest and west coast assets)