Thomas Houston and Talayah Jackson are graduates of the 2019 Equitable Development Initiative in Washington, D.C. Capital Impact Partners helped them develop a 17,000-square-foot building with affordable housing, retail and office space.

The affordable-housing crisis and widespread reckoning with systemic racism are two areas of great national and local interest today, as we emerge from a pandemic that disproportionately affected Black households.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, real estate developers of color faced significant barriers  — lack of access to capital, equity and experience – as a result of generations of structural racism and disinvestment.

A new program in Dallas aims to address both housing and equity by making the real estate market more accessible to Black developers, which, in turn, will create more affordable housing for Black Dallas residents, according to an announcement from Capital Impact Partners, a group that created the Equitable Development Initiative

This is about creating a more inclusive economy in Dallas, says Michelle Thomas, executive director and head of philanthropy for JPMorgan Chase, which is underwriting the initiative along with Charles Schwab Bank.

“When we think about closing the gap in financing available to developers of color, this is a huge opportunity,” Thomas says. “There is an incredible need for new and affordable housing across the country, and we’re glad to support our local developers of color who are working to address this issue in their communities.”

Since its 2018 inception, the Equitable Development Initiative has trained nearly 200 developers of color in three major metropolitan areas — Detroit, Washington and San Francisco Bay. Dallas is next.

“There are so many talented developers of color who are ready to work with local neighborhoods to create housing solutions that uplift and support communities,” says Ellis Carr, president and CEO of Capital Impact Partners and CDC Small Business Finance. “Systemic barriers have prevented developers of color from accessing capital and achieving their potential in helping communities across the country. Our EDI program will begin to build a more equitable real estate development ecosystem here in Dallas.”

Many of the participants from other metros have since gone on to create their own organizations, build local developments, and foster peer-to-peer networks, according to Carr.

The Dallas cohort will provide some 20 emerging real estate developers of color with assistance to help them grow their businesses in an industry where they are severely underrepresented, he adds.

The lack of equitable representation in Dallas has affected not only developers of color but also communities of color, according to the announcement.

Communities of color in Dallas are suffering, they note, pushed farther out of the city due to rapidly rising home costs, a lack of housing inventory and gentrification. Dallas reportedly has a 20,000-unit shortage of affordable homes.

This new program prepares emerging developers of color to pursue affordable housing projects and play a larger role in shaping Dallas’ development landscape, the organizers note.

Selected applicants will receive broad-based training – in areas such as project budgeting, real estate finance, project and contractor management, legal services and community engagement — as well as local mentorship, network building, and pathways for them to access funding.

The EDI application window runs through May 6. Capital Impact will select participants based on the following guidelines. Developers should:

  • Identify as racial or ethnic minorities
  • Be actively working to further careers in real estate development with some real estate development experience
  • Live in or near the primary metropolitan area of the program, and have a strong connection to the city/region in which they are working
  • Demonstrate a commitment to their city/region’s revitalization
  • Be interested in responding to requests for proposals for real estate development opportunities with or without a development partner in the next 1-2 years

Correction: The photo caption has been updated. The story initially misidentified Houston and Jackson.