(Black PR Wire) SEATTLE-(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) announced that he was committing over $21 million pilot professional training, mentoring, and a capital funding program to help promote real estate developers of color. This two-year, part-time professional development program, free to participants, aims to teach real estate color developers how to advance their careers. It also aims to reduce the obstacles that these that developers may face when bidding on affordable housing developments. The purpose of the program is to increase the number of professional real estate developers of color who are focused on affordable housing and building an inclusive community. This initiative is part of the $2 program billion Amazon’s Housing Equity Funda commitment to create and preserve 20,000 homes for moderate to low income individuals and families in Washington State Puget Sound area; the Arlington, Virginia area; and Nashville, Tennessee.
“With this acceleration program, we are focusing on the development of emerging real estate color developers. We want to foster their professional growth through education and training, as well as improving their access to capital, which can be elusive for developers of color,” said Catherine Buell, director of the Amazon Housing Equity Fund. “If we want to provoke lasting, holistic and meaningful change in the way affordable housing is developed, developers of the color must be part of the solution.
Not only are developers of color underrepresented in the real estate industry, they are also lacking access to the capital and resources needed to advance much-needed affordable housing projects to help their communities. According to a 2019 report from the Urban Land Institutea non-profit research and education organization for real estate and land use experts, 5% of its American members are black and 82% are white, although blacks make up more than 13% of the American population. This disparity translates into a lack of diversity in project development. which can subsequently prevent color developers from working on meaningful and lucrative projects real estate transactions as cities grow.
Amazon has partnered with local social impact and economic justice organizations in every Region-the Local Initiatives Support Company (LISC) in the Puget Sound area, Capital city Impact Partners in the Arlington area, and the Middle Tennessee Urban League in Nashville—develop study programs and networking opportunities that reflect the specific issues to their communities. The acceleration program will initially support up to 30 participants in total providing:
- Virtual classroom and in-person instruction in real estate fundamentals, affordable housing trends, public policies and funding best practices
- Small group mentoring
- Professional networking opportunities with industry leaders, researchers and established property developers
- Access to capital for pre-development expenses, such as architecture and engineering costs; site permitting, surveying and planning fees; and market and feasibility studies
“Color developers offer tremendous opportunities for creative and inclusive solutions to community-driven real estate development, but systemic issues continue to create multiple obstacles to their success,” said Ellis Carr, President and CEO of Capital Impact Partners and CDC Small Business Financing. “Through this program, we are partnering with Amazon to help open doors for people of color who can then put their experience to good use.
“With the support of Amazon, our hope is to bridge the knowledge gap and build a bench of color developers who trust their communities,” said Brian Surratt, Executive Director of LISC Puget Sound. “These developers are then likely to hire contractors and other workers from color, some of whom may live in these same neighborhoods.
Program participants will be selected by each partner organization and will be based on the following eligibility criteria:
- Identify as a person of color
- Experience working as a developer in a real estate development company or organization • Real estate development activities concentrated in the Puget Sound area, Arlington area, or Nashville
Along with the acceleration program, Amazon is also partnering with Corporate community Loan Funds, Inc. to administer grants of up to $200,000 to qualified real estate developers Color. These grants are open to anyone who applies to the Amazon Housing Equity Fund and needs assistance with capacity building and pre-development expenses associated with the the preservation and creation of affordable housing in Amazon’s three target regions.
The Amazon Housing Equity Fund is a $2 billion+ commitment to create or preserve existing homes and create inclusive housing developments through below-market loans and grants to housing partners, traditional and non-traditional public agencies, and minority-led organizations organizations. Since its launch in January, the fund’s commitments will help preserve or create more 5,600 affordable housing units, with more investments to come.
Learn more about the Amazon’s Housing Equity Fund as well as opportunities with it acceleration program Puget Sound area, Washington State, Northern Virginia Where Nashville, Tennessee.
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