The nonprofits, including Mercy Housing, LINC Housing Corp. and Nevada HAND, created a private real-estate investment trust that will acquire apartment buildings across the country, mainly in communities where rising real-estate values have prompted landlords to turn low-income housing into housing for the middle class or affluent.

The REIT, called the Housing Partnership Equity Trust, is the nation's only real-estate company owned and operated by nonprofits and the second REIT to focus on affordable housing.