I recently invested $10,000 to support my friend Sibley Simon’s mission to build more affordable housing in California.

Here’s why I got involved:

  • I have many friends who live in California.
  • The 4.25% return is nice when compared to some bonds.
  • I love that this uses partnerships between nonprofits, foundations, and private investors.
  • The founder is married to one of my best friends.

So what is New Way Homes doing? And why is this approach to affordable housing special?

The Problem: No Affordable Houses in California

California is experiencing a housing crisis. Poor people and now even most middle class people can’t afford to live in cities like San Francisco and Santa Cruz.

  • Homes are too expensive to rent and impossible to buy for many.
  • California would need an additional 2 million units of housing to meet the U.S. average of homes per capita.
  • Lack of housing also disproportionately affects low-income individuals, renters, and people of color.

New Way Homes will fix that problem.

What is New Way Homes?

New Way Homes creates affordable housing units.

These homes are then rented at below market rates to lower-income residents. This helps preserve diversity and economic opportunity.

Their core objectives are:

  • Build new housing on underutilized property.
  • End rent burden in California.
  • Provide modest returns for investors while supporting housing activism.
Aug 2020: New Way Homes is doing a crowdfunding campaign. Details here.

Who is Sibley Simon?

This is New Way Homes’s Founder and President, Sibley Simon:

two man, man on the left (Sibley Simon) is wearing a cowboy hat and holding a huge printed check for $10k, man on right is wearing a suit

Sibley Simon accepting an investment from Santa Cruz County Bank. Image: Good Times

I met Sibley because he’s married to one of my best friends, Nina Simon.

Nina and I have had a lot of adventures together, like going to Bikini Bootcamp and doing this Goliathon obstacle course.

Sibley’s the type of guy who cuts his own hair and doesn’t use social media. He has a background in technology and previously started and sold a company for a lot of money.

He knows how to get results. Here’s Sibley’s LinkedIn if you’re curious.

Sibley is also the Treasurer of Housing Matters, a homelessness-serving organization that leads the 180/2020 Initiative to end veteran and chronic homelessness in Santa Cruz County.

Projects by New Way Homes

New Way Homes has sponsored several successful projects. They have over 300 new units currently under design.

Black Churches and Historic Homes

They’re partnering with Black churches in lower-income neighborhoods. Sibley Simon told me that these churches will own the housing in the long-term, so it builds wealth in a community often facing displacement.

As of April 2020, New Way Homes is in construction converting an unused wing of a church in Oakland into 12 units of affordable housing.

Three men inside a construction setting indoors, looking at paper plans

Genesis Worship Center in Oakland is transforming an unused church into affordable housing.

New Way Homes is also converting a long-vacant historic Victorian home into 7 units of permanent supportive housing.

Orange-colored home surrounded by lots of grass and plants, with cloud background

This historic Victorian home will be converted to 7 units of affordable housing.

Near Downtown Santa Cruz

A big project is under development to build a 5-story building with 120 small, single-person units for permanent supportive housing. This aims to get the most vulnerable long-term homeless individuals in Santa Cruz off the streets. Partner organizations will provide all the needed services.

Cartoon-looking rendering of outdoor Santa Cruz development from New Way Homes

View of proposed Santa Cruz supportive housing project. Image: New Way Homes.

The location of this development is especially important because it would place residents right next to other important services, such as free health clinics.

Crowdfunding and Fundraising

Investments in New Way Homes are 10-year loans with an annual interest payment of 4.25%.

As of August 2020, New Way Homes is running a crowdfunding campaign to help them acquire and finance more growth.

Their big goal is to make this kind of housing development low enough risk to attract huge amounts of capital seeking low-risk, low-return investments. It would fuel tons of new affordable home development. Investments now help them get there.

What You Can Do

I invested $10,000. I probably should have done more.

You can support affordable housing by investing in New Way Homes. You’ll make around 4% annually on your investment.

Check out their crowdfunding campaign.

If you have questions or want to invest in another way, schedule a time to talk to Sibley directly.

Current funders include Dignity Health, Facebook, Kaiser Permanente, Central California Alliance for Health, and two community foundations. Plus me 😎.

Conclusion

I want to do more good things with my money.

Investing in New Way Homes gives me the opportunity to help underserved communities and get a respectable 4% return.

If you’ve been considering a municipal bond or other low-yield, credit-like investment, or if you’re curious about impact investing, take a look at New Way Homes.

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