Real Estate

Major real estate developer takes on Trump's immigration policy: 'Don't send them home, send them to us'

Key Points
  • In 2018, 47% of general construction laborers were Hispanic or Latino, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • "In light of this week's war of words in the American political arena, I felt compelled to put some thoughts down and to share them with you," wrote Toby Bozzuto, CEO of Bozzuto Group, a multi-family developer, in an open letter to employees.
  • "It is not enough to stand by as intolerance of the "other" becomes increasingly normalized...Indeed, don't send them home, send them to us," he said.
Overcrowding of families observed by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General on June 10, 2019, at Border Patrol's McAllen, Texas, station.
Source: OIG

The construction industry is heavily dependent on Hispanic and Latino workers, a workforce that diminished during the last housing crisis and has not come close to full recovery. Both single-family and multi-family homebuilders cite the current labor shortage as the key cause of higher prices and slower productivity.

In 2018, 47% of general construction laborers were Hispanic or Latino, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In specialty sectors, their share is even higher: 70% of drywall and ceiling tile installers, 56% of roofers and 55% of painters.

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All this is not lost on the CEO of the Bozzuto Group, a large multi-family developer up and down the East Coast as well as in mid-Western cities. Bozzuto Group has developed, acquired and built more than 45,000 condominium homes and apartments, with annual construction revenue of $500 million, according to its website. It calls itself a "generationally-owned, independently operated family business," with a staff of more than 2500 employees.

CEO Toby Bozzuto wanted to reassure those workers of his company's commitment to them, given the latest political rhetoric on immigration policy. So, he sent them this letter:

Dear Bozzuto Associates:
In light of this week's war of words in the American political arena, I felt compelled to put some thoughts down and to share them with you. The increasingly negative language we are hearing is in direct opposition to the ethos of this company. We are all part of the Bozzuto family, and as such we celebrate and welcome each other with open arms. This is what we have always, and will always stand for.
It is not enough to stand by as intolerance of the "other" becomes increasingly normalized.
It is not enough to stand by and allow divisive rhetoric to define who we are as a country.
On Lady Liberty's tablet was the truth. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Indeed, don't send them home, send them to us. Send them to Bozzuto where we can show the world what beautiful things can happen when people of diverse opinion, gender, race, sexual orientation and background come together.
This is what we stand for. This is who we are. This will define us.
As we continue to grow our business thanks to your extraordinary work, we increasingly have a platform that rises higher towards the ears of others. What are we going to say? What are we going to do with this opportunity?
Through your actions and your passion, we will let the whole world know that this Bozzuto family exists to create goodness and joy for others. We will let them know that we are relentlessly driven to create sanctuary for those that we serve.
As my father says, "Concern for others is the greatest virtue."
Our concern for others requires our minds to be open, attentive, inclusive, and curious.
We seek to learn from one another, and recognize that despite our differences we are united by an underlying human desire to be included, accepted, and loved. And because of our differences, we are able to create the extraordinary with a profound understanding of unique perspectives.
There is, and will always be beauty and richness in our diversity.
So at this time it is not enough to stand by. So we won't.
Send them to us.