AUSTIN (KXAN) – The City of Austin opened applications Monday for a new program to help small-scale real estate developers grow their businesses and create more affordable housing and job opportunities in the area.

According to the Monday announcement from the city, applications will be open for the Austin Small Developer Training Program from April 24 to May 19. 

The city’s Housing and Planning Department says the free, four-month program will provide developers with training, technical assistance, mentorship, networking and potential pathways for financing.

The announcement said the money for the program came from the City of Austin Housing Finance Corporation.

According to city’s announcement, successful program candidates will be selected based on the following criteria: 

  • Demonstrate experience as a small-scale developer (either for-profit or nonprofit organizations) who is seeking to further their experience developing affordable housing and/or growing their portfolio. As this is not an introductory program, candidates are expected to have some direct real estate development experience. 
  • Live in or have a strong connection to Austin. 
  • Demonstrate a commitment to affordability and fair housing in Austin. 
  • Commit to attend mostly virtual* training on Monday afternoons (between noon-5pm Central Time) during the months of July-October for up to five hours per week. There will be up to three in-person sessions, as well as an additional 2-4 hours of weekly training, assignments, and team meetings. 
  • Demonstrate interest in responding to Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for real estate development opportunities in Austin, with or without a development partner, within six months of completion of the program. 

Here some important upcoming dates with Austin Small Developer Training: 

According to the announcement, Capital Impact Partners and HousingWorks Austin are leading the Austin Small Developer Training program.

Capital Impact Partners is community development financial institution that has trained more than 200 developers through its Equitable Development Initiative in four regions nationwide, including the Dallas region, and has been working to help disinvested communities in Austin since 2015, the announcement said.

“The Austin region continues to grow, but that growth has also led to rising housing costs, pushed longtime residents out of the city, and contributed to low rates of homeownership and business ownership in communities of color,” said Raymond Guthrie, Chief Investment Officer and Head of Capital Deployment of Capital Impact Partners. “By helping small-scale Austin real estate developers, we can also close wealth gaps while bringing more affordable housing and investment into historically underserved communities.” 

According to the announcement, HousingWorks Austin is a nonprofit organization that aims to increase the supply of affordable housing in Austin by providing research, education, advocacy and thoughtful, workable affordable housing policy recommendations. 

“Affordable housing must remain part of the fabric of our community in Austin and Travis County,” said Nora Linares-Moeller, Executive Director of HousingWorks Austin. “In Austin alone, more than 222,000 households are at or below 80% of the median family income, including more than 44,000 households living below poverty level. The Austin Small Developer Training will help contribute to our goal of ensuring that all types of people and households can call Austin home.” 

In 2022, the Austin Housing Finance Corporation put out a call for a program that would help create more affordable housing developers — particularly developers whose companies are owned by women or people of color who are familiar with traditionally marginalized and excluded communities. For example, less than five percent of housing developers in the United States are people of color, and only one-third of housing developers in this country are women. 

“Our commitment to create and retain safe, affordable housing for all Austinites is a mission our team is deeply committed to achieve. Exploring collaborative partnerships assists with that mission, which is why we are proud to be a part of the Austin Small Developer Training program,” said James May, Community Development Officer for the Austin Housing Finance Corporation. “We encourage historically excluded developers to take advantage of this opportunity and help us build additional affordable homes in Austin.”