Eric Paine took a big leap in starting his own affordable housing development firm. With a background in market-rate housing and home building, he decided to dig in and learn more about the affordable side of the industry. Then, at the end of 2011, he started Newport Beach, Calif.–based Community Development Partners (CDP) with his brother, Kyle.

Eric Paine, founder and CEO, Community Development Partners
Douglas Gates Eric Paine, founder and CEO, Community Development Partners

“There was so much inspiration,” the 37-year-old says. “I thought affordable housing would be a great place to start with a tax credit equity structure and with it being mission based.”

The move has been a success. CDP completed its fifth full year of operations in December, developing 11 projects with almost 600 units in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Oregon.

“Being a start-up is difficult,” Paine says. “Perseverance and passion: That’s what got us where we are.”

CDP is committed to thinking outside the box on its developments, keeping innovation at the forefront.

A recent example is its Rocky Hill Veterans Housing development in Vacaville, Calif. The 39-unit community is being built with modified steel shipping containers.

“There have been a lot of learning curves, but we’re really happy we decided to make the investment of time, energy, and resources to see a new type of construction through to fruition,” he says. “Our investment will hopefully yield a less-expensive product going forward.”

Looking back at what’s been accomplished so far, Paine says he feels the firm is in a good place in terms of the quantity, quality, and integrity of its developments. However, he adds, there’s room for improvement diving deeper on the services side and resident coordination. “We’ll be looking more at the back end and how we can improve the lives of our residents,” he says.

Paine and his partner, Kate, have a son and split their time between California and Oregon. He also sits on the boards of two nonprofits, the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., and Alberta Main Street in Portland, Ore.