Houston area minority developer working to bring affordable housing to Houston through new Wells Fargo program

Here's what we know

HOUSTON – At a glance, the new up-and-coming housing development on Caroline st in Midtown looks like many other construction projects throughout the city, but there’s a unique story behind it.

“Essentially, it’s for folks who work in fast food, people who might work at Starbucks, your grocery store clerks, all the way up to your first-year firefighters. So, we’re building housing for the base workforce who often are not accounted for in most housing developments that you see,” said Laolu Davies-Yemitan, CEO of Five Woods Realty.

Five Woods Reality was selected to be part of “Growing Diverse Housing Developers,” a $40 million national initiative by Wells Fargo.

“Through that program, Wells Fargo, through its partnership with community-based lending institutions, hopes to help these minority development firms grow and scale up their businesses,” Davies-Yemitan said.

The mixed-income development on Caroline street, being built by Five Woods in conjunction with a majority developer, was previously funded through other means, but Davies-Yemitan is hoping to build more like it through the Wells Fargo program.

“People say success is when preparation meets opportunity, I feel like this is precisely what this opportunity stands to be,” Davies-Yemitan said.

He believes it’s a win-win for his company and underserved people in the Houston area who work in areas like Midtown, but because of inflation, can’t afford to live here.

At 72 years old, and battling health problems, Darrell Williams said he had to move in with his sister after recently losing his apartment.

“I’ve been in Houston all my life. I grew up a couple of blocks from here,” William’s said, adding that right now he’s essentially homeless. “Landlord didn’t keep up the property and I had to leave. When I left, I was trying to get another place but everything else is up higher than what housing will pay and what I could afford to pay.”

With an effort to incorporate more mixed-income dwellings into the city’s landscape, William’s situation could soon change. As a driving force in that mission, Davies-Yemitan said he believes decent affordable housing should not be exclusive to Houstonians with large incomes.

“There’s no difference in construction, there’s no difference in the quality of people, that’s what’s most important that we understand, that when we talk about affordable housing, affordability is an issue for those that make up a key workforce for those in our community,” Davies-Yemitan said.

The development on Caroline Street is set to be completed next year.

The Wells Fargo program is four years and Davies-Yemitan hopes to build at least two mixed-income developments per year during that time. Those who meet the low-income requirements could have rent below $500 a month.

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