As the son of a homebuilder, Joseph Claypool learned from a young age how to build something lasting with his own two hands. But after several years of real estate investments and a small collection of rental properties, Claypool realized that he was searching for more than just financial stability. “I needed to give back, invest in the community, and help someone else succeed,” Claypool says.
That was when Claypool first had the idea for the Mustard Seed Community, a collection of tiny homes located in Round Rock, Texas. The goal was to serve the members of the community who could benefit the most from affordable housing – including teachers, civil servants, and other frontline workers. But as Claypool worked to make his vision a reality, finding the right financial partner proved to be an uphill battle.
“The large banking institutions – I went into, I think, six of them,” Claypool recalls, “and they told me, ‘Hey, we really like it, but we can’t help you.’”
That was when Claypool met Amplify Credit Union loan officer Rene Flores. As a member of the Round Rock city council, Flores had heard great things about Claypool’s vision for affordable housing. When he sat down and met with Claypool for the first time, he knew that this was a project Amplify needed to support. “Our goal is to seek out projects like this that offer direct benefits to the community,” Flores explains. “I knew immediately this was something that Amplify needed to get behind.”
The history of the Mustard Seed Community highlights a growing trend in community investment. Commercial development has increasingly become a hyperlocal affair; research by Goldman Sachs found that over 80% of commercial real estate loans come from financial institutions classified as small and mid-sized banks. “Organizations like Amplify are the ones working to change the landscape of the real estate market,” Flores explains. “We believe we can make a real difference by funding projects that increase access to affordable rentals and housing.”
Affordability is a major concern for Flores and his team. In May 2023, Amplify gathered leaders from across the Central Texas community – including newly-elected Mayor Kirk Watson – to discuss how organizations like Amplify and Workforce Solutions of Central Texas could jointly address the rising costs of the region. For attendees like Flores, the conversation was just the beginning. “I always say that actions speak louder than words,” Flores adds, “and projects like the Mustard Seed Community are how we demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the community.”
According to Flores, the Mustard Seed Community also looks to reverse rising rental costs in the Central Texas community. Over the past few years, Zillow estimates that the median rental price in Austin has risen to more than $2,325 per month. Claypool elected to lock in rental costs at a flat rate of $1,375 per month, partnering primarily with frontline workers like teachers and civic servants.
And with the Mustard Seed Community already at full capacity, Claypool is already looking for opportunities to create more affordable communities throughout Central Texas – and he knows exactly who he will speak to first when the time comes to build out his business plan. “I couldn’t have done this without Amplify,” Claypool says. “They explained the construction lending steps and guided me through the entire process.”