If you're like many people, you set New Year's resolutions and goals. A great financial target to set is to grow your income from passive sources. There are many ways to do that. 

Investing in real estate investment trusts (REITs) is a tried-and-true method of making passive income as these entities must pay dividends out of their rental income. Three top choices from some Fool.com contributors are Federal Realty Trust (FRT 0.09%), Simon Property Group (SPG 0.39%), and W. P. Carey (WPC -0.22%). Here's why they believe these REITs can help jump-start your passive income this year. 

This Dividend King has provided payouts through thick and thin

Marc Rapport (Federal Realty Trust): If there's a recession coming -- and  conventional wisdom holds that there is -- you can build confidence in your portfolio with shares of Federal Realty Trust, a mixed-use, primarily retail operation that's the only REIT among the stocks that currently carry the status of Dividend King, meaning they have raised their dividend every year for at least 50 consecutive years. In Federal Realty's case, make that 55.

Federal Realty specializes in what it calls low-supply, high-demand centers in affluent neighborhoods across the country.

The stock currently pays a quarterly dividend of $1.08 and yields just more than 4%. The REIT's portfolio includes 3,200 tenants on the retail side and another 3,300 residential units. The retail portfolio was 94.3% leased and the residential properties were 97% leased as of Sept. 30, pointing to solid rent flow that should help keep this dividend machine humming for years to come.

Oh, and about that recession. Since 2007, just before the Great Recession, Federal Realty has provided a total return of about 117%, almost exactly the same as the benchmark Vanguard Real Estate ETF, while raising its total dividends paid by 88% over that same period. While a recession can hurt any company, a seasoned passive-income performer like Federal Realty looks set for success and could help ease the pain while you ride out the latest economic storm.

The consumer remains in good shape

Brent Nyitray (Simon Property Group): Simon Property Group is a retail REIT that focuses on malls and premium outlets. The company owns 197 properties in the U.S. and Puerto Rico and also owns a noncontrolling 80% interest in Taubman Centers. It also has a stake in French retailer Klepierre

Despite fears of a slowdown in the economy, U.S. shoppers have remained resilient. The company's retail tenants reported record sales of $749 per square foot in the third quarter of 2022, which was an increase of 14% on a year-over-year basis. The narrative for the past 20 years has been that brick-and-mortar retailing would be overtaken by e-commerce, but over the past couple of years, brick-and-mortar retailing has been growing while e-commerce is flatlining. 

Omnichannel retailing has grown in popularity, especially where the consumer pays for a product online and then picks it up in the store. This saves on shipping, and also sets the consumer up for impulse purchases when in the store. The death of brick-and-mortar retailing has been greatly exaggerated. 

Simon is guiding for 2022 funds from operations (FFO) per share to come in between $11.83 and $11.88. This puts the stock at a price-to-FFO ratio of 9.9, a reasonable ratio for a high-quality REIT.

The company just boosted its dividend and the stock yields 6.1%. The annual dividend of $7.20 will be well covered by its FFO guidance and the payout ratio (which is the dividend divided by earnings) is 61%, which is extremely conservative. Even if the U.S. enters a recession in 2023 and consumer spending falls, the dividend should be rock-solid.  

Poised for a strong year

Matt DiLallo (W. P. Carey): W. P. Carey built its business to generate passive income for its investors. The REIT owns a diversified portfolio of operational critical real estate that is net leased to high-quality tenants. This lease structure supplies it with very stable rental income since tenants cover maintenance, building insurance, and real estate taxes. That gives it the funds to pay an attractive dividend that is currently yielding more than 5%.

The company has increased its payout every year since its initial public offering in 1998 and should have no problem continuing to grow its dividend in 2023.

A big driver of its strength is inflation. Over half of W. P. Carey's leases feature annual rental rate escalation clauses tied to the consumer price index (CPI). With inflation running hot, W. P. Carey's rents are growing faster than in recent years. CEO Jason Fox noted in the company's third-quarter earnings report: "As current CPI numbers flow through to rents, we expect our same-store growth to move even higher in 2023, and to continue seeing the benefits into 2024."

The company also continues to benefit from the steady expansion of its portfolio. W. P. Carey invested $1.42 billion last year on acquisitions, two-thirds of which were of high-quality warehouse and industrial properties. The REIT is starting to acquire properties at higher cap rates -- cap rates measures expected return -- as rising interest rates reduce real estate values, enabling it to secure higher-returning investments. It entered 2023 with a strong pipeline of more than $500 million of acquisition opportunities and significant liquidity to make deals. Those new investments should support further growth in its rental income.

With rent growth accelerating and acquisitions becoming more accretive, W. P. Carey appears poised for a big year. That will put it in an even stronger position to continue growing its high-yielding dividend.