SEATTLE, December 8, 2021 / PRNewswire / – The local initiatives support society (LISC), a U.S. nonprofit CDFI that supports community development initiatives across the country, has partnered with Amazon to help build the next generation of real estate developers of color in the Puget Sound area and develop affordable housing in the communities they serve.
LISC Puget Sound, the local arm of the national nonprofit association, today launched the Housing Equity Accelerator to provide professional training, mentorship and capacity building to real estate developers of color, as well as pre-funding. development for the affordable housing projects they have planned. Upfront costs can include expensive site survey and planning fees, permits, legal fees, and feasibility studies.
The program is funded by more than $ 5 million grant from the Amazon Housing Equity Fund, one more than $ 2 billion commitment to create and maintain 20,000 affordable housing units for middle to low income individuals and families in washington state Puget Sound area; the Arlington, Virginia Region; and Nashville, Tennessee. The new initiative also aligns with the LISC 10X project, who invests $ 1 billion bridging racial gaps in health, wealth and opportunity across the country.
“Amazon understands that the problem of affordable housing is not only about buildings, but also about people,” said Catherine buell, director of the Amazon Housing Equity Fund. “This is why it is so important that we support emerging real estate developers of color who can offer different perspectives to community building and help find lasting and impactful solutions. “
“Historical barriers have made it very difficult for Black and other color developers to gain a foothold in the development industry,” said Brian Surratt, executive director of LISC Puget Sound, who noted that only 5 percent of developers nationwide are black, largely due to lack of access to capital.
Surratt also highlighted the unique challenges of affordable housing development, which is highly regulated and requires technical knowledge far beyond traditional commercial real estate operations. Affordable housing finance programs often benefit large, experienced, and highly networked developers, Surratt explained, making it difficult for emerging developers to compete.
“With support from Amazon, our hope is to bridge this knowledge gap and create a group of developers of color who are confident in their communities and who are likely to hire entrepreneurs and other workers of color, including some may live in those same neighborhoods, “he explained. “It is part of a wealth creation strategy for individuals and communities, and it directly addresses the economic implications of the affordable housing shortage in our region.
“This program shows how companies like Amazon, mission-driven lenders and entrepreneurs can team up to help build community solutions for affordable housing,” said Seattle Mayor elect Bruce harrell. “Supporting emerging real estate developers of color helps create more equitable and inclusive communities, as these developers can engage and listen to community concerns, build meaningful partnerships, and help generate greater access to opportunities for residents. ”
LISC will select eligible participants to join the two-year part-time program which is open and free to eligible developers of color with a demonstrated commitment to affordable housing and workforce. Participants, or “fellows”, will have access to a vast network of established real estate professionals. They will participate in cohort training sessions on a range of topics, from project feasibility to joint venture partnerships, and have one-on-one sessions with mentors to overcome specific project barriers.
“Programs designed to correct the racial imbalance in the real estate industry must be carefully designed so that more of the critical startup investment ends up in the hands of developers of color,” said Surratt. “Amazon’s investment is a new source of social and financial capital for these developers who center them in the local real estate community.”
The program is part of a $ 21 million Amazon engagement to pilot a skills training, mentorship and capital funding program to help promote real estate developers of color. For more information on the Housing Equity Accelerator, eligibility requirements and the application process, please visit this link.
LISC is one of the nation’s largest community development organizations, helping to forge vibrant and resilient communities across America. We work with residents and our partners to close systemic gaps in health, wealth and opportunity and advance racial equity so that people and local economies can thrive. Since its creation in 1979, LISC has invested $ 24 billion to create more than 436,320 affordable homes and apartments and develop 74.4 million square feet of commercial, community and educational space. To find out more, visit www.lisc.org.
About LISC Puget Sound
LISC has been active in the state of Washington for decades, including investing in more than 33,000 affordable housing units. LISC’s comprehensive community development efforts include supporting financial opportunity centers that offer job training and placement; community safety programs that help residents and local leaders fight crime; capacity building of local non-profit associations to extend their services; and economic development strategies to catalyze opportunities, including relief grants for small businesses run by minorities and women affected by the pandemic. LISC relaunched its local presence there in the summer of 2021, when it launched LISC Puget Sound, with an urgent focus on reducing racial and socio-economic gaps that affect families and communities.
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SOURCE Local Initiatives Support Company (LISC)