A set of emerging approaches seeks to use economic development to close the racial wealth gap through community equity investments. Sometimes referred to as neighborhood real estate investment trusts, community investment trusts, or investment cooperatives, these models offer residents the opportunity to purchase equity shares in a project and benefit financially from new development in their neighborhood. Community equity ownership, while not guaranteeing long term tenure, would at least provide a new source of passive income and wealth building to longtime residents.
We begin this brief by defining the term “community equity investment” and the related commercial and residential community ownership models. We then highlight five examples of community equity investment in cities across several US states. We conclude with a discussion of how to implement a community equity investment and what steps are needed to build this field.