Program focused on helping first-time developers of color is gaining momentum in second year and expanding across the U.S.
Submitted by U.S. Bank
Johnny Opara started working with U.S. Bancorp Impact Finance in 2021 on a multi-family development project in St. Paul called The Hollows. Opara said he learned a lot from his first Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) deal.
With The Hollows completed and new goals and opportunities in front of him, Opara recently closed on his second LIHTC deal, known as Wangstad Commons, with Impact Finance. He said he hopes to finish the development in early 2025.
Opara, the president and CEO of JO Companies, LLC, shares who inspired him to build in the video linked above.
Wangstad Commons is a 54-unit, four-story development featuring one- to four-bedroom units located in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Nearly one-third of the apartments will go toward supportive housing for people with disabilities or who are high-priority homeless.
“I’ve been partnering with the City of Brooklyn Center since 2019 in our efforts to deliver high-quality homes that are sustainable and that will be around for generations to come,” Opara said. “U.S. Bank stepped up as investor, and on the construction debt side, and has been a strategic partner so I can deliver on my promises.”
The funding Opara received is through Impact Finance’s Impact Capital program, a $250 million tax credit equity and debt fund aimed at first-time developers of color with tax credit awards. The other organization to receive funding through the fund this year is Infinite Horizons, which received construction financing for Courtlandt Manor, a 23-unit development located in New York.
Impact Capital Manager Miranda Walker said she is pleased with how the program is helping developers like Opara.
“Johnny is the fund’s first developer to progress to closing their second deal,” Walker said. “It has been exciting to work alongside Johnny as his projects, his business, and his impact in this industry progress. In terms of wealth building, Johnny and his company, JO Companies, exemplify the goal of the Impact Capital program – to provide a path for developers of color to grow their companies through realization of the fees delivered by the projects they work so hard on. The goal of the fund is to work with many more developers like Johnny with the hope and goal to see them and their businesses excel in similar ways.”
The Impact Capital program launched in 2022 and is approved as a Special Purpose Credit Program, permitted by the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. These programs are designed to improve access to capital for members of economically disadvantaged classes.
“There has been strong demand for Impact Capital across the country,” Walker said. “Impact Capital is available in all 50 states with 11 targeted markets. We are excited to continue to build the fund’s pipeline and to expand the capacity of the fund’s developers.”.
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