Amazon Develops $21 Million Program for Real Estate Developers of Color

In Summary

Amazon just launched a $21 million program to help grow opportunities for real estate developers of color and increase affordable housing. 

Amazon is devoting more than $21 million to a pilot program that will provide professional training, mentorship and capital investment to benefit real estate developers of color, living up to its “Work Hard, Have Fun, Make History” mantra. 

In a press release, Amazon said the two-year professional development program is free and intended to teach developers of color how to advance their careers, as well as to remove some of the roadblocks they may experience when bidding on affordable housing projects. 

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“Developers of color bring enormous opportunity for creative and inclusive solutions to community-focused real estate development, but systemic issues continue to create multiple barriers to their success,” said Ellis Carr, president and CEO of Capital Impact Partners and CDC Small Business Finance. 

The project is part of the $2 billion Amazon Housing Equity Fund, which aims to build and preserve 20,000 affordable houses for people with moderate to low incomes in the Puget Sound region of Washington; Arlington, Virginia and Nashville, Tennessee. 

“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,” said Catherine Buell, director of the Housing Equity Fund. 

According to Amazon, developers of color are underrepresented in the real estate industry and lack access to the necessary capital and resources needed to increase affordable housing in their communities. A recent report found that 5% of its members in the United States are Black, compared to 82% white, a disparity said to translate to a lack of diversity at the project development level. 

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In addition to whether they identify as a person of color, Amazon has collaborated with social impact and economic justice organizations Local Initiative Support Corporation, Capital Impact Partners and the Urban League of Middle Tennessee to choose participants based on their professional experience as a developer at a real estate development firm or organization and their local real estate development activities.

The organizations will develop curriculums and networking opportunities that reflect specific issues facing the participants’ communities, with offerings including access to capital for pre-development expenses and virtual and in-person classroom instruction on affordable housing trends and financing best practices.

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