Texas’ capital city will soon have a new $65 million affordable housing community spanning over 30 acres, established through taxpayer and corporate funding.
Business Investment Growth Austin (BiGAUSTIN), a nonprofit backed by local, state, and federal funds broke ground on Thursday for its affordable housing community, called ASPIRE. In a press release, BiGAUSTIN CEO Stacy Rhone said that the development aligns with the community and social impact goals of their organization and their partner organizations.
“As we expand our offerings in northeast Austin and throughout Travis County, our team will continue to pursue meaningful opportunities to support entrepreneurs and job seekers in those areas with the fewest resources and housing options,” stated Rhone.
BiGAUSTIN described the affordable housing community as “racial economic justice!” in the description of an accompanying YouTube video. The initial layout of the project plan online notes that the community will be diversified, multi-use, and mixed-income development for low-income and minority individuals.
Over the years, Rhone has continuously argued for the existence of “white privilege” and the implementation of equity-based initiatives. Prior to joining BiGAUSTIN in 2009, Rhone was the vice president of diversity and recruitment for the National Women’s Political Caucus, an organization that recruits and assists progressive, pro-abortion female political candidates.
As part of the affordable housing community plan, BiGAUSTIN will get a new, 20,000 square-foot headquarters within the community. In all, ASPIRE will have 400 housing units. BiGAUSTIN partnered with Bank of America in August to develop the community.
BiGAUSTIN’s list of 37 partners boasts some of the biggest names in banking and finance, Big Tech, law firms, and big box stores. These include Capital One, Cadence Bank (formerly BancorpSouth), Comerica Bank, PayPal, Regions Financial, Woodforest National Bank, Google, HP, eBay, Yahoo!, DLA Piper, Baker Botts, Walmart, and HEB.
Government partners include the city of Austin’s Economic Development Department, the Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund, and the State Department.
Of note, BiGAUSTIN has two partners based out of Uzbekistan: the Uzbekistan Business Leaders and the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. No Uzbek cities are named among Austin’s 14 sister cities and three friendship cities.
BiGAUSTIN launched in 1992 through Austin city government funding, later becoming an independent nonprofit in 1995. According to its website, BiGAUSTIN receives funding currently from the state of Texas, Travis County (whose county seat is Austin), private equity firms, local and national banks, and the federal government.
The nonprofit’s 2019 to 2021 tax filings (filed under “Business Invest in Growth”) aren’t available through the IRS, though ProPublica, a nonprofit news and research organization, has a summary of their 2020 filing, but not their 2019 or 2021 filings. According to ProPublica, the IRS hasn’t released the source documents for BiGAUSTIN’s 2020 filing.
According to BiGAUSTIN, it assists an average of 2,800 small and minority-owned businesses a year and estimates that its efforts contribute over $35 million to the local economy.