On December 17th, the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) hosted a webinar with the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) to discuss how Opportunity Zone investments are supporting new affordable and workforce homes, highlighting projects in Ohio, Maryland, and Florida. EIG and NCSHA featured each investment in the recently launched Opportunity Zone Development Profiles series, providing details on project financing, community socioeconomic data, and projected economic impact. Developers from each project joined the webinar as guest speakers to provide additional context on financing structures and community engagement as well as answer audience questions. 

A recording of the webinar can be found here

EIG Moderators: 

  • Rachel Reilly, Director of Impact Strategy
  • Catherine Lyons, Manager of Policy and Coalitions

During the webinar, EIG provided regulatory and legislative updates, discussed its new OZ Activity Map, and shared insights into market trends pertaining to multifamily investment in Opportunity Zones. They also discussed findings from the first three Opportunity Zone Development Profiles, including:

  • Opportunity Zones equity can be leveraged alongside traditional community development financing tools, including the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.
  • Each city grapples with a unique set of circumstances when it comes to housing needs, and the flexible nature of Opportunity Zone financing enables a broad application to serve those local and project-specific needs. 
  • Opportunity Zone financing has enhanced the positive impact of housing projects, provided a vehicle for local stakeholders to retain wealth creation post-exit, and has been used to solve for gaps in the capital stack.

Guest Speakers: 

Jim Tassos of NCSHA shared ways in which housing finance agencies are engaging with Opportunity Zones, highlighting efforts to build local capacity and connect communities, projects, and investors. He also provided findings from NCSHA’s recently updated Opportunity Zone Fund directory that now features 196 Opportunity Funds raising $45 billion in aggregate. 

Avram Fechter of EquityPlus provided details on the Ox Fibre Apartments located in Frederick, Maryland. Avram explained how Opportunity Zones equity addressed a last-minute financing gap due to rising construction costs, enabling the project to advance. 

Ben Ezinga of Sustainable Community Associates (SCA) discussed The Tappan, SCA’s third development in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. He shared how the financing structure offered by PNC Bank allowed SCA to provide workforce housing, engage local investors through a separate Opportunity Fund, and will offer SCA the opportunity to buy-out PNC’s ownership interest after year ten. 

Clayton Wyatt of Alliant discussed Parramore Oaks located in Orlando, Florida, highlighting how the project fulfilled community-identified priorities stated in the town’s Comprehensive Plan. He also shared insights into engaging financial institutions as Opportunity Zone investors and how proposed changes to the Community Reinvestment Act may influence their participation.  

EIG’s OZ Webinar Series: This webinar is the seventh in a series EIG will host throughout 2019 and 2020. These webinars address a variety of topics related to Opportunity Zones implementation, showcase best practices from around the country, and serve as a resource for investors, project sponsors, entrepreneurs, and community developers looking to use the incentive. So far, EIG has covered an introduction to Opportunity Zones, an analysis of the April 2019 round of regulations, community best practices in heartland, rural, and tribal communities, an overview of Opportunity Zones investments in operating businesses and the role anchor institutions play Opportunity Zone development.  

Opportunity Zones 

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