While we can see some strident changes in many aspects of minority business ownership, from funding to start-up loans and assistance, commercial real estate remains a stark reminder that racial inequality in some sectors is alive and well.
Commercial real estate ownership remains a white male-dominated field, in part because accessing capital is nearly impossible for many minority developers.
In New York, a nonprofit affordable housing and community revitalization finance company called the Community Preservation Corporation (CPC) launched a program called ACCESS (Acquiring Capital and Capacity for Economic Stability and Sustainability) to empower with financial resources, capacity-building opportunities and technical assistance.
“I think the biggest challenge that BIPOC [or Black, Indigenous, and people of color] entrepreneurs continue to face is not having someone on the other side of the table that can really understand the challenges and be willing to help,” Lawrence Hammond, senior vice president at CPC and director of ACCESS told the Commercial Observer. “They don’t have the family and friends network that oftentimes majority developers have.”
Citibank and the Citi Foundation recently announced more than $1 billion in strategic initiatives to help close the racial wealth gap and increase economic mobility in the United States. The company’s Action for Racial Equity is advertised as a comprehensive approach to providing greater access to banking and credit in communities of color, increasing investment in Black-owned businesses, expanding homeownership among Black Americans, and advancing anti-racist practices in the financial services industry. Citi said it was committing resources including:
- $350 million in procurement opportunities for Black-owned business suppliers
- $50 million in additional impact investing capital for Black entrepreneurs
- $100 million to support Minority Depository Institutions’ growth and revenue generation
- $100 million in Citi Foundation grants to support community change agents addressing racial equity
But throwing money at the issue is a start. There’s a lot of damage to undo. For example, in 2019, the Urban Land Institute found 5% of its U.S. members were Black, even though Blacks represent more than 13% of the population.
“You need skills, equity, access to financing, relationships, and really great attorneys, and that burden is just too big for those in the African American community to build that skill set,” Mosaic Development Partners co-founder and co-principal Gregory Reaves told BisNow.