A new program aims to expand the talent pipeline and increase diversity in the affordable housing development field in Illinois.

md3d/Adobe Stock
md3d/Adobe Stock

Launched by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) and the Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC), the Next Generation Capacity Building Initiative will provide training and technical assistance to expand access to pre-development financing and housing resources administered by the state, with a focus on reducing barriers to entry for developers of color in the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program.

“Here in Illinois, we believe every person deserves a roof over their head and a place to call home—and our affordable housing developers are working to achieve just that,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker in a statement. “As we focus on equitable opportunity in the housing industry, the Next Gen program promises support for BIPOC developers that have been historically underrepresented in this field.”

The Next Gen initiative seeks to address this disparity by lowering the systemic barriers BIPOC developers encounter in three key ways, according to officials.

First, an in-depth training program will be developed and delivered to up to 15 program cohorts. This will include a 160-hour curriculum delivered by LISC on affordable housing development and housing tax credits, with a special focus on IHDA’s tax credit programs and processes. LISC will also coordinate networking opportunities for participants to connect with seasoned industry professionals.

Second, upon completion of the training program, developers will be eligible to apply for financing under a pre-development loan fund, funded with Next Gen funds provided by IHDA and administered by LISC, to support the pre-construction and planning costs necessary to establish project design, scope, site control, and other early costs.

Third, project-specific technical assistance will be provided to each BIPOC developer or development team who receives a loan from the predevelopment loan fund. The technical assistance will be curated to participants’ specific needs and will include tracking milestones of program participants and their development projects.

“The Next Gen program will support a talented but underrepresented group of developers that have historically faced higher barriers to participation in state and federal programs,” IHDA executive director Kristin Faust said. “IHDA believes that greater diversity among the state’s development partners will lead to more inclusive outcomes for residents and greater community engagement in the developments we fund, and we are grateful to partner with LISC in this innovative approach that will increase access to key financial and technical resources that have been out of reach for many.”

The initiative builds on several steps taken by IHDA to increase diversity among affordable housing developers participating in the state’s LIHTC program. These include introducing incentives for having a BIPOC-led or BIPOC-governed firm on the development team, as well as additional incentives for projects demonstrating proactive racial equity work related to development planning processes. In IHDA’s most recent LIHTC application round, 100% of approved applications had BIPOC participation on the development team, reported the agency.

LISC will host two informational webinars Oct. 27 and Nov. 2 at to provide additional details about Next Gen and answer questions about the program.

Applications will be accepted through 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1. More information on the application process, participant eligibility, and program details will be available here.