CPC ACCESS: Empowering Black and Brown Real Estate Developers

By Rafael E. Cestero, Chief Executive Officer

Last month, CPC teamed up with the Rochester Economic Development Corporation (REDCO), The Housing Council, and the Urban League of Rochester to host a multifamily real estate summit for new and aspiring developers of color in Central New York. Together, we connected attendees with resources and information that will bolster their ability to make an impact in their communities through multifamily real estate development.

The event was part of CPC ACCESS, an initiative we launched just over a year ago to leverage our expertise, financial strength, partnerships and other resources to help level the playing field and open up new opportunities in the real estate industry for black and brown entrepreneurs.

Since launching ACCESS in August 2020 with $20 million committed from our own balance sheet, CPC is swiftly and intentionally putting our flexible capital and technical assistance to work in communities, supporting projects led by black and brown developers in New York City, RochesterPoughkeepsie, Syracuse and across New York State. One husband and wife development team, Garfield and Shereen Salmon, is transforming a small mixed-use building in downtown Poughkeepsie with five rental units above a ground-floor commercial space that the couple will use to run their catering business. With a construction loan from our ACCESS initiative, the Salmons are making their dream project a reality after being turned down for financing by several local lenders.

In May, ACCESS joined New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) to launch Legacy Cities, an innovative program that is transferring vacant and underutilized buildings from land banks to local developers, with preference given to minority- and women-owned (M/WBE) development businesses. Following rehabilitation, sales of the homes will prioritize Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) purchasers and low-income households, helping to tackle the issue of generational wealth building through homeownership. Together with our State partners, we aim to create up to 100 first time homeownership opportunities. I’m looking forward to seeing the first Legacy Cities projects close in the coming weeks.

And, just last month we closed on a $6 million joint venture with TruFund Financial Services (TruFund) targeting our shared goals of helping members of the BIPOC housing and community development space grow their businesses. This collaboration allows CPC and TruFund to leverage our expertise and amplify the resources and support we offer to developers. Less than a week after the closing, the teams from ACCESS and TruFund led a panel discussion at the Opportunity Finance Network’s (OFN) 2021 Virtual Conference on standing up an equity fund and working collaboratively to support emerging BIPOC developers.

In just over a year our ACCESS team of Lawrence Hammond Senior Vice President, Director of CPC ACCESS, and Wilhelmena Norman-Hernandez, AVP and Manager of Community Impact, have taken ACCESS from a concept to a fully operationalized initiative that has made meaningful investments in BIPOC-owned businesses, formed new public and private partnerships and has a healthy pipeline of transformative projects in the works.

We appreciate the community engagement, collaboration within and outside our organization and fresh thinking around ways to expand ACCESS and grow its impact from Brooklyn to Buffalo.

Please contact Lawrence Hammond and Wilhelmena Norman-Hernandez to get involved, and learn more on the ACCESS web page.

By Rafael E. Cestero, Chief Executive Officer
Rafael E. Cestero is the Chief Executive Officer of the Community Preservation Corporation (CPC), and a member of its board of directors.

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