Amazon commits more than $5 million to new program to grow opportunities for real estate developers of color in Arlington, Virginia and the broader Washington, D.C. Metropolitan region
Arlington, VA – RealEstateRama – Capital Impact Partners today announced a grant of more than $5 million from Amazon to launch an initiative focused on accelerating new opportunities for emerging real estate developers of color while also increasing affordable and workforce housing across Arlington, Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan region. This funding is the most recent commitment from the more than $2 billion Amazon Housing Equity Fund, which was established to preserve and create over 20,000 affordable homes in Amazon’s hometown communities–the Puget Sound region of Washington state, the Arlington, Virginia region, and Nashville, Tennessee.
Through this grant from Amazon, Capital Impact has created the Housing Equity Accelerator Fellowship, a two-year, part-time professional development accelerator program, for a cohort of real estate developers with practical experience in the field and a focus on affordable housing development. The program, which is free for participants, provides:
- Real estate training with a focus on affordable housing production in the Washington Metropolitan area
- Small group mentorship
- Access to grant capital for pre-development expenses, such as architectural and engineering costs; permitting, survey, and site-planning fees; and market and feasibility studies. These funds are often the hardest and most expensive to raise for developers.
“Developers of color bring enormous opportunity for inclusive ideas and creativity to community-focused real estate development, but the barrier to entry is often very high for these individuals,” said Ellis Carr, president and CEO of Capital Impact Partners and CDC Small Business Finance. “We are excited about the support from Amazon to create this fellowship and work to bridge those gaps and foster opportunity and inclusivity for developers.”
According to a 2019 study from the Urban Institute, the Washington, D.C. region requires an additional 375,000 housing units by 2030 to meet growing demand. To address this housing shortfall and to build more inclusive communities, coordination across government agencies and a diversity of key stakeholders is essential. The Housing Equity Accelerator Fellowship will work with local developers of color to not only improve their skill sets but also begin to help address this important need for affordable housing.
The program further amplifies the ability of these developers to bring their ideas, perspectives, and local partnerships to work being done in the region. As members of their communities, the Fellows will engage with and listen to the community’s concerns and through their work provide greater access to employment and opportunity for residents.
“With this accelerator program, we are laser-focused on lifting up emerging real estate developers of color. We want to foster their professional growth through education and training, as well as improve their access to capital, which can be elusive to developers of color,” said Catherine Buell, director of the Amazon Housing Equity Fund. “If we are going to bring about lasting, holistic, and meaningful change to how affordable housing is developed, developers of color need to be a part of the solution.”
Addressing Racial Disparities in the Real Estate Industry
The Housing Equity Accelerator Fellowship will help bridge an important gap that exists in the representation of real estate developers of color. According to NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, reported in a 2013 survey that just 4.4 percent of commercial real estate professionals were Black. In August 2020, just 5 percent of Urban Land Institute’s members described themselves as Black or African-American.
As a result of a range of systemic issues of disinvestment and racial inequality, developers of color face multiple challenges and obstacles in their field not experienced by white colleagues. According to many individuals interviewed during the development of this initiative, Capital Impact has found these issues formed a number of broad categories:
- Lack of business connections, family wealth, or the backing of a network of investors.
- Lack of access to development opportunities, or ‘a seat at the table’
- Lack of capital that is exacerbated due to the fact that traditional underwriting standards work against black and brown developers
- Lack of capacity
- Market and ecosystem factors
This collaboration builds upon the Capital Impact’s established and successful Equitable Development Initiative, a training program offered to aspiring real estate developers of color in Detroit, Michigan and Washington, D.C. By expanding the curriculum and providing early-stage funding, the new Housing Equity Accelerator Fellowship will focus on candidates who have moved beyond the entry-level of real estate and have practical experience in the real estate development field. Housing Equity Accelerator Fellows will be selected based on the following eligibility guidelines:
- Identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC)
- Is a full-time developer (i.e., principal or co-principal of a real estate development firm)
- Has at least one affordable housing development projects completed or underway
- Has affordable residential development activities focused on the metropolitan District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia region
- Is in need of additional balance sheet capacity, access to networks and specialized training topics to grow and scale their businesses
- DMV EDI graduates are encouraged to apply
Learn more at Capital Impact’s website.
About Capital Impact
Through capital and commitment, Capital Impact Partners helps people build communities of opportunity that break barriers to success. We work to champion key issues of equity and social and economic justice by deploying mission-driven financing, capacity-building programs, and impact investing opportunities.
A nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution, Capital Impact has disbursed more than $2.5 billion since 1982. In 2020, Capital Impact launched a new enterprise with CDC Small Business Finance under one leadership team and national strategy to reinvent traditional and mainstream financial systems. Our goal is to ensure these systems equitably serve communities of color to drive community-led solutions that support economic mobility and wealth creation.
Our leadership in delivering financial and social impact has resulted in Capital Impact being rated by S&P Global and recognized by Aeris for our performance. Headquartered in Arlington, VA, Capital Impact Partners operates nationally, with local offices in Austin, TX, Detroit, MI, New York, NY, and Oakland, CA.
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