Innovative Homeownership and Cooperative Housing Strategies Enabled by Major Grant

Pilot Pathways to Homeownership Program for Low- to Moderate-Income Residents

Facilitated by Innovative Housing Opportunities

Innovative Housing Opportunities’ Homeownership Education and Housing Accelerator Initiative will launch at two of the nonprofit developer’s affordable housing sites: Golden Circle in Santa Ana, CA, and 87th and Western Apartments in Los Angeles (co-developed with EAH Housing).

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SANTA ANA, CA: Innovative Housing Opportunities, Inc. (IHO), has received a $250,000 grant from First Citizens Bank Affordable Housing Grant Program. The funds are earmarked for IHO’s pilot Homeownership Education and Housing Accelerator Initiative for low- to moderate-income (LMI) residents. This pilot program will debut in Spring 2023 at two communities developed by the non-profit affordable housing developer and augment its already robust offerings of resident services.

“Innovative Housing Opportunities recognizes that, historically, homeownership has been critical to building generational wealth,” says Emilie Dang, Director of Community Impact & Programs at IHO. “Funding from First Citizens Bank will enable Innovative Housing Opportunities to explore creative strategies that can help our LMI residents transition from being long-term renters to becoming homeowners.”

Two years ago, First Citizens Bank announced it would invest $16 billion in LMI neighborhoods to help individuals and businesses grow in financial security and to create more vibrant and diverse communities. The plan expanded the work First Citizens already was doing, and accelerated new opportunities for underserved communities and individuals. To fulfill its commitment, First Citizens invests in affordable housing, community support services such as job training and workforce development, and revitalization efforts in underserved and economically distressed communities.

“First Citizens Bank will always care about the communities in which we live and work,” says Steve Wise, South West Region Executive for First Citizens Bank. “We are honored to support Innovative Housing Opportunities as they help renters become homeowners, and we know that their work will be life changing for many.”

IHO’s proposal includes the activation of the Homeownership Education program, which will focus on financial empowerment and individual plan management to equip people for homeownership. The initiative will consider new sustainable pathways to wealth building and economic self-reliance, including shared equity, limited equity, and cooperative housing models. “Innovative Housing Opportunities wants to partner with residents at our communities and assist them in their journeys toward housing stability, wealth building, and achieving the American Dream,” says Rochelle Mills, President and CEO at IHO.

The Housing Accelerator Initiative will utilize IHO’s Housing Innovation Fund (HIFund)—a private real estate fund aimed at leveraging private capital to accelerate the delivery of high-quality mixed-income housing communities—to restructure the financing of two new proposed developments that will incorporate approximately 50 ownership units in Southern California. IHO will convene Think Tanks and Roundtables to bring together experts in the fields of housing policy, planning, research, and finance to find actionable, scalable, and replicable homeownership solutions for LMI households as part of the successful IHO Institutes (thought leadership) program.

“Community revitalization and stabilization is achieved through the creation of holistic mixed-income, mixed-use rental, and ownership housing developments,” adds Dang. “Innovative Housing Opportunities’ goal is not to unintentionally create a permanent rental class, but to help our residents begin building generational wealth and break the cycle of poverty by providing several viable housing options, including homeownership. This First Citizens Bank grant will help us achieve that goal.”


The mission of Innovative Housing Opportunities (IHO) is to strengthen communities and advance social and economic mobility by providing high-quality, affordable housing with integrated services. IHO’s California development portfolio provides homes to a wide variety of residents, including seniors, families, foster youth, veterans, those living with mental illness, formerly homeless, developmentally disabled, and other special needs and mixed populations. Formed in 1976 to help business and government address the lack of low- to moderate-income housing in the City of Irvine, IHO is now working throughout California to accelerate the delivery of affordable homes that reflect IHO’s values and leverage its successful comprehensive development approach to attract and spur reinvestment, revitalization, and personal empowerment in the communities served.


First Citizens Bank helps personal, business, commercial, and wealth clients build financial strength that lasts. Founded in 1898 and headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., First Citizens is the largest family-controlled bank in the United States, providing a unique legacy of strength, stability, and long-term thinking that has spanned generations. First Citizens offers an array of general banking services, including a network of 500-plus branches in 22 states; commercial banking expertise delivering best-in-class lending, leasing, and other financial services coast to coast; and a nationwide direct bank. Parent company First Citizens BancShares, Inc. (NASDAQ: FCNCA), is a top-20 U.S. financial institution with more than $100 billion in assets. More information at

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