Capital Impact Partners Welcomes 15 Local Developers of Color into New Accelerator Program

 Capital Impact Partners Welcomes 15 Local Developers
of Color into New Accelerator Program

Program is sponsored by a grant from the Amazon Housing
Equity Fund and will support real estate developers of color
focused on bringing more affordable housing to the Washington
metropolitan region.

ARLINGTON, Va., PRNewswire -- Capital Impact Partners announced the inaugural class of its Housing Equity Accelerator
Fellowship. The group consists of 15 of the region’s emerging real estate developers of color.

The goals of this new program, funded by a grant of more than $5 million from the Amazon Housing Equity Fund, include increasing the number of real estate developers of color in an industry where they are under-represented, and helping to grow the affordable housing stock in this region.

 The Amazon Housing Equity Fund is the company’s more than $2 billion commitment to preserve and create affordable housing in Amazon’s hometown communities — the Arlington, Virginia region;
the Puget Sound region of Washington state; and Nashville, Tennessee. The Fund also strives to support minority-led organizations to help them build a more inclusive solution to the affordable housing crisis, which disproportionately affects communities of color.

These first 15 Fellows are experienced real estate developers who have reached a key point in their careers where additional training, mentorship, and potential access to funding can accelerate existing projects and help them to become more established in the field. Historically, the barrier to entry for emerging real estate developers of color has been extremely high.

A Diverse Mix of Developers
The first cohort is a diverse mix of developers who
are already creating and preserving affordable homes in the
metropolitan D.C., Maryland and Virginia region:
Christopher Agorsor, New World Developers
Alexsis Blakely, Rosewood Strategies LLC
Odis Bledsoe, Home Answers Construction & Development
Tremayne Cobb, TOC Enterprises, LLC
Howard Ervin, Parallax Development Group, LLC
Dabrielle Goodwin, Eluvial Enterprise Inc.
Forest Hayes, Miller Beach Development LLC
Thomas Houston, Medici Road
Ayesha Johnson, A-Peace, LLC
Raymond Nix, Nix Development Company, LLC
Chi Perrus, Paragon Construction Group, Inc.
Valerie Sanderlin, FocusWorks LLC
Jason Saunders, BHI
Construction and Real Estate Development
Ronette Slamin, Embolden Real Estate, LLC
Ernest Williams III, Wiltrust Group LLC
Bios for the 15 developers are available here.

“The level of talent and the desire to support affordable housing initiatives that we have seen through this program so far are energizing,” said Catherine Buell, director of the Amazon
Housing Equity Fund. “Bringing more diverse voices, ideas and perspectives into the conversation around inclusive community building is how we are going to make the most meaningful and lasting change to affordable housing.”

Program Highlights
Capital Impact Partners’ Housing Equity Accelerator
Fellowship is a free, two-year, part-time professional development
and career advancement program. It provides:

Real estate training with a focus on affordable housing production in the D.C. 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 most difficult and most expensive to raise for developers.

Capital Impact, Amazon Committed to Equitable Representation,
Inclusive Solutions The Housing Equity Accelerator Fellowship expands on Capital Impact Partners’ Equitable Development Initiative, which was started in 2018 to support emerging developers of color to participate in real estate development in their regions.

This new fellowship program stems from a $21 million pilot program launched by the Amazon Housing Equity Fund to support emerging real estate developers of color in Amazon’s hometown communities in the Puget Sound region of Washington state; the Arlington, Virginia, region; and Nashville, Tennessee.

According to a 2019 study from the Urban Institute, the Washington metropolitan 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, it is essential that government agencies and a diversity of key stakeholders coordinate their efforts. As members of their communities, the fellowship participants will engage with and listen to community concerns, and their work will provide greater access to employment and opportunity for residents.

Several of the fellowship participants are alumni of
Capital Impact Partners’ Equitable Development Initiative
(EDI), which has trained, or is training, nearly 200 developers
of color since 2018 in Detroit; the Washington metropolitan
area; and the San Francisco Bay Area. Many participants
in those three regions have since gone on to create their own
organizations, build local developments, and foster peerto-
peer networks. Capital Impact also launched the EDI in
Dallas on April 7.

This is an important effort given the gaps in representation for real estate developers of color, including:

Just 2 percent of real estate development companies are Black-led, according to Enterprise Community Partners. Real estate firms led by people of color control only 1.5% of real estate assets that are under management, according to Enterprise.

Just 4.4 percent of commercial real estate professionals are Black, according to a 2013 survey by NAIOP, the Commercial
Real Estate Development Association.

Just 5% of the Urban Land Institute’s members are African American, according to a 2020 report. 

Developers of color face multiple challenges and obstacles in their field not experienced as frequently by white colleagues, including:

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 

Learn more at and investedincommunities.

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