Caption: Black Developers Forum Board of Directors with State Treasurer Fiona Ma, center. Photo courtesy of Black Developers Forum.

By Marla A. Matime

On October 3, the Black Developers Forum (BDF) hosted a cocktail party at the Minna Gallery in San Francisco. A standing room only event, many of the state’s black promoters filled the room, celebrating BDF’s first year as a California-based nonprofit advocacy organization working to eradicate the inequalities in the development of affordable housing. The event followed on 43rd The annual Nonprofit Housing (NPH) conference was also held in San Francisco.

BDF is a network of Black affordable housing developers and industry supporters committed to building communities that provide safe and healthy living environments, educational opportunities and housing for people in the African Diaspora.

The reception was also a way to raise funds to support BDF’s work and advocacy. Funds raised go to support BDF in creating workshops and training for black developers and industry professionals.

Black developers need allies in positions of influence and decision-making to receive fair consideration for housing dollars for communities of color. The BDF cocktail provided a great opportunity to bring these essential parts together.

Keynote speaker, California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, spoke about the BIPOC Allocation Pool, a $112 million earmarked for blacks and other minority developers that was started by former Deputy Treasurer Jovan. Aged and created in 2021.

This reserve meets the needs of minority developers who did not have access to capital and relationships with large banks to provide lines of credit and other financing products. Creating this allocation pool was an important priority for the Black Developers Forum and Treasurer Ma.

Ma also explained that without the stipend, black developers would not only have fair access to funding capital, but would also be left out of the loop to build affordable housing that meets one primary goal: reducing carbon emissions. harmful. This would be accomplished through the production and delivery logistics of materials to development sites and the use of clean energy components that would go into the finishing touches of building structures.

She then elaborated on why these opportunities are important not only to developers, but also to the communities they serve. Providing affordable housing, workforce housing, and access to education and resources will help underrepresented communities of color by hopefully encouraging them to become homeowners, which will help their turn these families out of the cycle of poverty. Ma is eligible for re-election on November 8.

“Rebuilding our sustainable communities with equity in mind is a top priority,” said Cherene Sandidge, President of Sandidge Urban Group, Inc and President of BDF.

Her passion and drive to ensure black developers receive fair opportunities is why she accepted the leadership role at BDF. Sandidge also thanked the partners present, in particular Lourdes Castro Ramirez, secretary of the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, who “has supported us from the beginning”.

Don Gilmore, executive director of the Community Housing Development Corporation and vice president of BDF, said: “Black-led affordable housing developers have been subjected to systemic inequalities in state funding of affordable housing projects, which created barriers to the opportunity to build in our own communities. The Black Developers Forum has formed to provide us with a collective voice to speak out against these inequalities and have a positive impact on how current and future legislation is shaped.

He also noted that “Black developers should have the same opportunities as any other developer to build great projects that benefit the community, but funding inequities and related regulations have been and continue to be a barrier, and we we will no longer be silent. We are using our collective voice and resources to demand that black developers benefit from the equitable opportunities that have eluded us for so long.

Asked about the state’s responses on fair policies, practices and laws, Gilmore said, “We have received positive responses from all levels of our government and have been rewarded for taking a stand and being agents of change for a system of fair policies, practices and laws. This represents progress forward and we are pleased to be a grassroots advocacy organization whose work will create a system of fair practices that future generations can benefit from.

BDF addresses the institutional issues that have prohibited the creation of wealth and the continued disenfranchisement of black developers, black-led organizations, and black individuals. There are over 50 members within the Forum, including developers, in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors, as well as finance, construction, property management and other industry professionals.

Additionally, BDF advocates for federal and state policies that have historically discriminated against and disenfranchised Black developers and Black-led organizations.

One goal that has not been met, and is an ongoing effort, is to ensure that practices, policies, and regulations are in place to enable Black developers and other people of color within the industry, fair and equitable scoring on development applications, fair funding opportunities. , and fair experience requirements through BIPOC set aside. Additionally, BDF was able to change CDLAC regulations to allow more black developers to access capital and create the set aside BIPOC.