Berkeley, CA - July 15, 2021 - The Housing Lab, a program of the nonprofit Terner Housing Innovation Labs, announced today the five organizations selected to join the 2021 Housing Lab Cohort. The cohort for this year includes Blackstar Stability, Homecoming Project, True Footage, Trust Neighborhoods, and Los Angeles Room and Board. The Housing Lab also selected two larger organizations for an honorable mention, the Black Impact Fund and Framework.
The Housing Lab’s six-month program selects and accelerates a cohort of organizations that demonstrate creative models to lower housing costs and eliminate systemic racial and economic barriers to housing equity. The 2021 Cohort is focused on housing solutions that not only facilitate an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, but address long-standing barriers inhibiting affordable, accessible, and equitable housing. This year’s cohort, selected from nearly 160 applicants, represents some of the most promising models to address racial inequity in access to housing stability and wealth generation, shift living and working models that have changed during the pandemic, and integrate with other economic recovery strategies.
“The work we do at The Housing Lab has never been more urgent,” says Carol Galante, Board Chair at Terner Labs and Co-Founder of The Housing Lab. “The economic fallout from the pandemic has exposed and dramatically exacerbated inequalities in wealth creation and housing security for tens of millions of families. We need bold new solutions that challenge how we think about housing in the United States - which is exactly why we created The Housing Lab in the first place. I am delighted to welcome such innovative organizations to our 2021 cohort.”
Each member of the 2021 Housing Lab Cohort will receive $75,000 in seed money, as well intensive coaching from The Housing Lab’s team of mentors in business model design, policy and regulatory strategy, capital structuring and fundraising. The organizations will also receive access to a national network of housing developers, policymakers, community organizations, and investors. Of the six organizations selected for last year’s inaugural cohort, three secured significant additional funding within six months of graduation and one was acquired.
“Small ventures need support to navigate the complex regulatory environment and norms of the housing industry so they can access necessary capital and grow in scale,” says Michelle Boyd, Program Director at The Housing Lab. “The Housing Lab is uniquely positioned to provide that support so that these ventures can further their ideas and benefit those who are disproportionately affected by our national housing crisis. We are inspired by their work, and looking forward to working hand-in-hand with this year’s Cohort on the solutions they are building.”
The Organizations of the 2021 Housing Lab Cohort are:
- Blackstar Stability (Washington, DC) - Blackstar Stability is an investment company that builds enduring homeownership in underserved communities through a proven, innovative business model. It tackles predatory lending practices and foreclosures by purchasing pools of homes encumbered by predatory forms of seller financing, converting the financing to traditional mortgages at fair market terms and eventually selling the loans and recycling the capital. It also purchases non-performing mortgages, with the goal of keeping families in their homes at >3x the industry-wide foreclosure avoidance rate. Blackstar Stability keeps families in their homes, generating significant benefits for low- and middle-income communities.
- Homecoming Project (Oakland, CA) - Homecoming Project, a program by Impact Justice, facilitates the transition of formerly incarcerated people back into the community, bridging a significant gap in services as well as a social divide. The program matches formerly incarcerated individuals with welcoming hosts to provide participants with immediate, stable housing. After an involved matching process that takes into consideration both parties’ needs and habits, participants stay with their hosts for six months and hosts receive a daily stipend of $25. This model bridges the gap between affordable housing and social services, providing formerly incarcerated individuals with a safe, stable environment to help strengthen the community.
- True Footage (Seattle, WA) - True Footage brings transparency to real estate by using lidar, computer vision, and machine learning to deliver the most standardized and complete property data, ensuring all transactions are fair and fast. By providing valuations that reduce subjectivity in appraisals and tax assessments, True Footage closes the appraisal gap and helps correct the trend of under-assessments for minority properties.
- Trust Neighborhoods (Kansas City, MO) - Trust Neighborhoods is a nonprofit that supports existing neighborhood-based groups to create mixed-income neighborhood trusts (MINTs) that develop, own, and manage rental housing for that neighborhood. Each neighbor-led MINT is legally focused on preserving existing rents for tenants at risk of displacement. By “changing who changes the neighborhood,” Trust Neighborhoods encourages equitable development and puts investment power back into the hands of community leaders.
- Los Angeles Room and Board (Los Angeles, CA) - Los Angeles Room and Board (LARNB) reduces the education gap by making living expenses more attainable for LA community college students. LARNB builds and manages live-learn housing for community college students, including Opportunity House, which launched in September 2020. This new 50-bed facility serves as more than just affordable housing for students, providing them with meals, mentorship, and more. Through its construction of the Opportunity House and partnership with the LA Community College system, LARNB ensures that students priced out of traditional housing options have the resources they need to thrive.
The organizations selected for honorable mention are:
- Black Impact Fund (Los Angeles, CA) - Black Impact Fund is a family of real estate funds with a double bottom line strategy focused on investing in Black and brown communities in major urban markets. Its founders have a proven track record leveraging data-driven social impact strategies to deliver superior financial returns. Black Impact Fund's unique structure aligns an Opportunity Zone fund, a non-Opportunity Zone fund, and the nonprofit Black Impact Community Fund designed to ensure community members participate in the gains created.
- Framework (Boston, MA) - Framework is a mission-driven organization dedicated to empowering smart and successful homeownership for first-time homeowners. Since 2012, Framework has been providing premier home buying resources, including a state-of-the-art online course that meets the needs and expectations of today's homebuyers. Framework recently launched the first independent mobile app, Keep Home™, dedicated to empowering first-time and first-generation homebuyers through the entire homeownership journey. Always looking ahead, Framework continues to build and strengthen its platform to provide ongoing education, tools, and advice to support a lifetime of successful homeownership for anyone pursuing the dream.
About The Housing Lab
The Housing Lab, founded in 2019 within the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at U.C. Berkeley, is now a program of Terner Housing Innovation Labs, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. With a mission to identify and accelerate early-stage ventures with the potential to make housing more affordable and fair, The Housing Lab is the first national innovation lab focused exclusively on lowering the cost of housing.
Program Director, The Housing Lab