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Residents Owning Their Local Economy

(SHELTER FORCE) Brett TheodosRebecca Marx, and  Tanay Nunna, June 16, 2022

In the face of extractive “investments,” communities are exploring creative models that let them both exert control and earn returns themselves. 

Neighborhood “revitalization” and “transformation” are on the tip of the tongue in communities across the country. For some, terms like this conjure flashbacks to an era of urban renewal; for others, they imply progress and profits. When a neighborhood undergoes redevelopment, it is typically private real-estate investors who reap the profits, while the ensuing rise in costs of living can make it difficult for longtime residents to stay.

But what if we designed investments in neighborhoods harmed by institutional marginalization and extraction in ways that let community members and local institutions participate in wealth creation and decision-making power? Wealth-building historically has focused on helping people own the home they live in, but these new models are helping residents and nonprofits own a slice of their local shopping centers, apartment buildings, and other properties.

new set of projects across the United States is underway to broaden who owns and controls neighborhood real estate. These projects are contesting the status quo of real estate investments that may bring new housing or jobs to an area but seldom give community members or institutions a say in development decisions nor a share of the profits.

These projects are creating opportunities for residents and community-based organizations (CBOs) to participate as owners in their local economy, to share in the benefits of real estate development and business finance, and to build wealth. And beyond wealth, such control can help bolster other important social and economic outcomes such as job creation, environmental sustainability, transit connectivity, and improvements in health. These projects are making room for community members to have a say in what form of neighborhood economic development they want.

Source: Shelter Force