What Miami Can Learn From Buy the Block Movement

by Fabiola Fleuranvil for MDEAT

Article republished from MDEAT Annual Magazine: Urgency of Now https://issuu.com/mdeat/docs/mdeat_2020_annual_magazine

All over the country there are movements to take back communities from the threat of gentrification and to reinvest in keeping ownership Black and Buy the Block. Some of these have taken shape in the form of crowdfunding campaigns and others have been led by real estate investors and entrepreneurs using their influence to encourage others to invest in Black neighborhoods. While each of these communities may have their own unique challenges, they all share one common thread — decades of disinvestment in Black neighborhoods and too many of us moving out, and the result are outsiders seizing the opportunities.

Evolution is needed for our communities. No community can grow and thrive and serve the next generation if it does not evolve to meet the hierarchy of needs of that community. And you also cannot stop private investment. However, evolution without preservation results in gentrification, and the outcome is a widening Black homeownership gap to the current 29 percent gap between White and Black families.

In Miami-Dade County, the ownership of many of the businesses in Black communities are not owned by people who look like the community. And residents are finding it much more challenging to buy a house in the communities where they want to live. We have an opportunity to learn from the Buy the Block movement and use similar concepts to address these challenges. Socially conscious investors could use these crowdfunding platforms or other SEC regulated investment funds to raise money and develop infill housing, acquire apartment buildings, restore distressed properties, and purchase commercial properties and consciously keep it all affordable and attainable for people in the community. This same collective investing model could be used by a group of entrepreneurs to raise funds to purchase franchises or any other type of business.

The point is that the issues and challenges in this community are really opportunities for creativity and collaborative thinking. If we allow our parent’s and grandparent’s homes to be sold instead of keeping them in the family, then of course, it is up for grabs by whomever. The value of properties and assets in Black and urban neighborhoods have historically been undervalued hence the surge in gentrification by outsiders. It is impossible to think that outsiders would overlook the opportunities in our community just because we will not invest in them. We have an opportunity to recreate our own Auburn Ave or Black Wall Street. There is not a shortage of money or funding. There is a shortage of creative thinking.

MDEAT addresses economic disparity especially in the Black community through Homeownership, Small Business & Economic Development, and Youth Action.