DALLAS (CBS11) – Some Hollywood star power in North Texas Thursday shined a light on a complicated topic:  affordable housing.  “I kept bumping up against affordable housing,” says Texas born actress Eva Longoria.  “I was doing a lot of work with farm workers and they were driving three to four hours a day because they couldn’t afford to live where they worked.”

So Longoria is both an investor and ambassador for a real estate investment firm that’s taking a unique approach to affordable housing:  they say they’re making it profitable.

Eva Longoria in Dallas (CBS 11)

“These families are paying upwards of 60% of their income on rent,” says Bobby Turner, Principal and CEO of Turner Impact Capital, “and that comes at the expense of food security, health security and retirement security:  and that’s a problem.”

Turner’s company wants to build a billion-dollar portfolio of what he calls affordable, workforce housing:  courting teachers, police officers and healthcare workers who earn too much for public housing assistance; but, often can’t keep pace with rising rents.  Those tenants can also get a break on rent for providing services to the community.

“We create a pride in rentership when people stay longer because they believe in the community,” says Turner.  “I can actually drive great profits for my investors because the biggest cost of owning properties like this is turnover.  When there’s no pride in rentership, people move.”

They call it profit, with a purpose.

“He [Turner] knows how to make people money,” says Longoria who declined to divulge her stake in the fund, “that’s the entrepreneurial side of me.  The philanthropic side was that you can do that along with creating a social change, along with providing a need in this white space that nobody is meeting.”

So along with an influx of cash into aging apartment complexes, the Turner approach is to “enrich” them as well, by providing unique services designed to support the working families. He also says every apartment meets local income standards for affordability.

Courtesy: Legends of Lake Highlands

At the Legends on Lake Highlands property in Dallas today, Longoria helped debut a Children’s Health telemedicine kiosk:  using technology to make healthcare both convenient and affordable.  An on-site advocate will gather data and help families navigate the system to provide quick, quality care.

“It allows us, when there’s ear pain, that we can look inside the ear, live through video,” says Julie Hall-Barrows, Vice President of Virtual Health & Innovation at Children’s Health, “does this person have an ear infection? It’s definitive.  We’re not guessing.”

Longoria calls the telemedicine kiosk a “game changer” in the pocketbooks of working families who often don’t have the luxury of taking off work when a child is sick.  The kiosk is also equipped to connect adults with healthcare providers and send prescription requests directly to the pharmacy.

“To have this kiosk is an amazing thing,” says Longoria.

Currently, Turner’s Multifamily Impact fund has a portfolio of roughly 4,000 units in Dallas and seven other markets. Ultimately, they’re hoping to more than double that number.

“There’s a huge demand for affordable housing,” says Turner.  “We’re here to stay.”