Opportunity Zones in New Haven and Final Reflections
Season 1, Episode 8
In Episode 8: Opportunity Zones in New Haven and Final Reflections, podcast hosts Song Kim, MBA candidate and Professor Kate Cooney begin by reviewing the work done in the Spring 2019 Inclusive Economic Development Lab class, where teams of students learned about 4 neighborhoods in New Haven that contain OZ tracts and made suggestions about how the models we studied (Food Halls, Fab Labs, CLTs) might be deployed in each neighborhood. The neighborhoods are: Hill South, Dixwell, Newhallville and Fair Haven. Next, Song and Kate review some of the key insights from the interviews with the guests we met over Season 1 of CitySCOPE podcast and highlight some general takeaways about the challenges and opportunities in inclusive economic development work. We finish with some general reflections of our own.
Thanks for taking this journey with us, we hope it is useful in sparking your imagination about how to make Opportunity Zone investment create real opportunities for the communities currently living in the zones. Join us again next summer for Season 2 of CitySCOPE podcast!
1. City of New Haven, OZ information here
2. Data dashboard on New Haven OZs, here
3. Opportunity Zone Beckons, New Haven Independent, (April 10, 2019) article here
4. Accelerator for America recommendations to cities on developing zone level prospectuses, read more and find examples here
5. The IEDL slides for OPPORTUNITY ZONE level prospectuses for New Haven, created by IEDL Spring 2019 Yale SOM students and other information are available under the Spring IEDL section of the website.
*Photo of NXTHVN develoment rendering, courtesy of Jason Price
Kate Cooney (00:00):
This is CitySCOPE.
Camilo Monge (00:01):
A new podcast from the Inclusive Economic Development Lab at the Yale School of Management.
Lauren Harper (00:05):
Where we learn about what might be possible in our city by talking with others about what is happening in theirs.
Liam Grace-Flood (00:11):
Are we ready?
Song Kim (00:29):
Hello, and welcome to the final episode of CitySCOPE. My name is Song Kim and I will be your host today as we reflect on the Inclusive Economic Development Lab, with the focus on Opportunity Zones. We’ve explored throughout the podcast new models of inclusive development, such as makerspaces, food halls and new iterations of old models such as Community Land Trusts.
Song Kim (00:50):
Each of the student teams that you’ve heard from over the course of this season has spent the last few months doing a deep dive into an Opportunity Zone designated neighborhood in New Haven. At the beginning of the class, we met with representatives from the city who presented to us the economic development landscape in New Haven. I was especially impressed to learn there are more than 6,000 bioscience patents given here since 2000. The city is considered a foodie capital, which is no surprise, given the diverse and rich history here, and it is home to a vibrant arts ecosystem. The city’s vision for the development of New Haven is for it to be a livable city, an inclusive city and a connected city.
Song Kim (01:30):
The class culminated in a presentation to the city to take what we’ve learned from the inspiring work happening around the country, as well as what we’ve learned from conversations with community members highlighting community-based assets, to capture their imagination about what could be possible in New Haven. It’s been an enriching past seven weeks and it’s my distinct pleasure to walk you through this experience.
Song Kim (01:51):
First, let’s get oriented with New Haven in the context of Opportunity Zones. Currently, there are seven designated zones in New Haven: Long Wharf, Trowbridge Square, Newhallville, Dixwell, the Mill River District, Fair Haven North and Fair Haven South. Opportunity Zones, in theory, carry a potential to bring capital flows into areas where there’s been a history of divestment and help offset the harm policies like redlining have brought to communities.
Song Kim (02:19):
In class, we focused on four major neighborhoods: The Hill, Dixwell, Newhallville and Fair Haven. These zones, in general, tend to have higher numbers of black and Latinx community members, lower levels of education, lower levels of home ownership and higher levels of poverty than the rest of the city. So, what have we learned?
Song Kim (02:40):
The Hill is a New Haven neighborhood with a vibrant history, harbor and waterfront. It is home to Long Wharf, which used to be a bustling trading center. But around World War II, New Haven made room for the I-91 and I-95 interchange by demolishing the Wharf and moving things around. They’re hoping to turn the Wharf into a live/work/play community right on the water. However, with sea level rise, there’s a lot of concern about how to build not just inclusively, but sustainably. One of the city’s big questions with Opportunity Zones is whether they could get a developer to do some of the needed infrastructure work to elevate the new buildings out of the floodplain.
Song Kim (03:18):
But even beyond the Wharf, The Hill neighborhood has a lot of assets to build on. Union Station - our big Amtrak and Metro North rail station, and the Yale Medical Center. Residents are proud of their rich history and are interested in commercial development that honors their history as a hub of industry to create new jobs for residents.
Class audio (03:39):
Even though, when we think about makerspaces, we think about a place that has 3D printers, whatever. It can also just be, like, a tool library, where people can come and get a screwdriver or whatever.
Class audio (03:49):
So, we think that this model is a pretty good fit for The Hill South and why? First, it’s because these locations - it’s not just a room that has a bunch of 3D printers and you can come and play around. It’s a center for creativity and also community engagement. So, the first thing is that there’s a lot of just lack of job opportunities and training for local residents. So, we think that if you get youth and you bring them into a place where they can start building the things that they want to build, it’ll encourage them to start pursuing STEM fields. And we also think that it would be a good pipeline into trade jobs. One big problem that we saw in The Hill through our community engagement is that the local residents don’t really have a pipeline into the Unions. So, maybe it’s something that could … a potential idea would be that you could have some sponsorship. There’s going to be all this construction that’s occurring in The Hill South. You could have either the Unions or local contractors sponsor these places so that the local youth see that there’s… They can meet people who work at these institutions and they can also begin that conversation to see that there is a path forward to enter these kind of jobs.
Song Kim (05:02):
Dixwell is a storied neighborhood with jazz history and a post-Industrial neighborhood catalyzing arts-based reinvention. It’s one of several New Haven Opportunity Zones that was redlined in the 1930s and it shows. While good manufacturing jobs that were open to black people led to a huge influx of people to Dixwell in the 1950s, today there is much less economic opportunity, even with Yale campus growing deeper and deeper into the neighborhood.
Song Kim (05:29):
At the edge of Dixwell is Yale’s Ingalls Rink, the university gym and four residential colleges. Yale-educated MacArthur-awarded artist Titus Kaphar chose Dixwell as home for his new community arts base, NXTHVN, which reminds us of Dixwell’s rich artistic history as a hotbed of American jazz development, and promises future development.
Song Kim (05:51):
While Yale has mixed effects on all of New Haven, it plays out especially poignantly in Dixwell because of its close proximity to campus.
Class audio (05:59):
Food halls make a lot of natural sense in Dixwell because the thing that we hear over and over and over again is that Dixwell is really a food desert. People are in need of healthy and affordable food options, and that’s something that has implications not just for people’s health, but for the economy if they have to travel outside the neighborhood in order to get good food. If they don’t do that, it’s all kind of a vicious cycle.
Class audio (06:27):
There’s also a lot of existing institutions like Hill House, Yale, [inaudible 00:06:32], Hugh House. All of these things have people who need to eat and they have a lot of different kinds of people of different income levels that we could leverage in our … and kind of subsidize lower-income people who should have access to this kind of food. We see, not just as existing institutions, but this new development like NXTHVN is bringing in all of these artists and startups and Munson Development is planning 400 new units. So, building on kind of that emphasis to make a new… to make a more holistic kind of development would be really good.
Class audio (07:13):
We also think that it’s an opportunity to leverage Dixwell’s diversity. From my limited engagement with the neighborhood, if you drive though, you kind of can even start to get a feel for how segregation happens, even within the neighborhood, and creating a space where everybody wants to come together to share the great food that other people make, has been demonstrated to be like a really great kind of community-building exercise in other places.
Song Kim (07:46):
Newhallville is a residential neighborhood with big dreams, primed for innovation and revitalization. There’s coveted green space throughout the community and educational institutions that stand as enduring anchors and assets in the community that would be inviting to public-private partnerships. There are smaller lot sizes that would be great to capture small and medium-sized developments. But what stood out most to the students about this community as promising is its community and people. The residents are resolute in cementing their culture and strong sense of community by looking for opportunities to invest in their own future.
Class audio (08:22):
If there was going to be an epicenter for a CLT, we suggest that Newhallville be considered for that. And one of the reasons we think that is in order to begin a CLT and have it be successful, you need the advocacy of the community, and as we’ve discussed, Newhallville is really… They have a fire for wanting change and wanting to own it. So we think that that would be an area which would get a foothold established. Furthermore, there’s just a need for both the commercial side and the residential side of a CLT in Newhallville. Sixty-two percent of Newhallville is rent-burdened right now, so we could see some residential development and then we could also see the flexibility in the CLT helping to establish some commercial properties as well.
Song Kim (09:03):
Fair Haven is an entrepreneurial diverse community, featuring waterfront access and a young population with easy access to I-93 [I-91] and I-95, Yale University and East Rock. There are plenty of beautiful green spaces around the waterfront to attract investment, and schools that are great for rallying communities. There’s some great momentum from a tech and innovation hub called The District, new city investment streaming into an old brewery-turned-apartment complex and a factory recently purchased by a Brooklyn-based frame company. There’s a strong sense of entrepreneurial and community organizing spirit, and the residents want to own and have a say in what goes on in their community.
Kate Cooney (09:42):
The community engagement piece is important because it’s how you bring those different stakeholders together from across sectors to do some of these more complicated capital stacks that it takes to really do some of the more catalytic, creative, community-facing investments, right? And that takes time. And the thing about this program is that there are these… There’s a kind of quickness required to act.
Kate Cooney (10:10):
So, what many recommend are that - even though the engagement is tricky because you engage a whole set of communities and imagining what might be possible for them and then no one comes, that’s an uncomfortable situation - but, you know, you can think about it as part of a broader, inclusive economic development planning. There are a number of other prospectuses you can look at and… You know, Erie, Pennsylvania; St. Louis, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; Mayor Pete in South Bend. They’ve all been engaging in this process and sometimes it’s a strong mayor model, where it’s driven by the mayor. Sometimes it’s the community foundation that’s paying for someone to do that work. But it’s really, really valuable work.
Song Kim (11:02):
As we wrap up, Professor Cooney will join me to talk about some final observations and insights we gathered from our interviews about how Opportunity Zones can be leveraged for Inclusive Economic Development.
Kate Cooney (11:14):
Thanks, Song. Here’s Greg Reaves from Mosaic Development Partners on the importance of infusing the work with vision for building places that create beauty and inspire.
Greg Reaves (11:24):
When you take a project or a building, especially in a marginalized community, and you’re able to re-imagine the possibility of that block of the land, of what it could be and then to see it actually come to fruition in the end and see people living in it and being a part of it. And the more that we started to do that, the more that I started to realize, along with my partner, how important our work has become because it directly affects how people live, where people live, and how they feel about how and where they live.
Greg Reaves (11:58):
We know, from working with another developer and for another developer, that you can create your own model of building companies and building businesses and neighborhoods. And your model directly affects people around it, not only the people that will use that building, but the people who live near that building.
Greg Reaves (12:16):
One of the things that we knew is that when you come into the neighborhoods we come into, one of the key ingredients is to surprise people. They already have an expectation that what they’re going to get is substandard and it’s not just their living… apartment or house or home, but it’s also the experience that they’re getting. And what we were looking to do was to create a new experience, a new identity. And the way we did that is by not… replacing the roof structure on the second floor of the building and turning the second floor into an outdoor space. And by doing that, it changed the way people saw the building and the neighborhood, because they thought, “Wow. This is an idea that you wouldn’t see in this community. It just wouldn’t come here.”
Greg Reaves (13:04):
So, for people who are on the outside, we’ve had architects who have come to the building and been outside and have been afraid to get out of their car, literally. We have one… She’s a wonderful person. She came to visit. She’s like, “I think I’m here, but I’m not sure.” I’m like, “No, you’re here. I see you. You can get out of the car now.” And so she gets out of the car and when she walks into the building, she now walks into this sanctuary that just caught her off-base, and she stayed for three hours. And she had forgotten where she was, which I thought was the really beautiful part about it, that we can go into neighborhoods and rather than have people be afraid of where they are, have them forget and just sit and enjoy the moments. And the better we are at designing and creating that…
Greg Reaves (13:50):
This is why we need really great minds involved in coming up with these mixed-market rate thoughts and ideas, because the current way that people have been doing it has only been driven by price and by cost and by the income they make on the end. It hasn’t been driven by, how are people going to experience this when it’s built? What is it that we want to have happen and how can we incorporate that as a thought in the beginning and then build it? And until we do that, the communities that have been marginalized are not going to get the best of what we have to offer.
Kate Cooney (14:25):
I really love that thought. It emphasizes the creative thinking around the financial model that can be at the heart of this work. Greg and his team are putting the innovative financing in service of something that will inspire.
Song Kim (14:38):
Right. And if the rules are, make it beautiful, full of surprise and give it a “wow” factor while staying in a certain level of affordability and quality, that sounds like an interesting puzzle to figure out.
Kate Cooney (14:50):
You know, Albert Einstein reportedly said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Our first recommendation to cities and communities is to embrace the potential of Opportunity Zones with the spirit of play and creativity. The OZ program has the potential to be big. Why not make it beautiful as well?
Kate Cooney (15:09):
For me, someone who grew up in Washington, DC in the 1970s and ’80s when the city was largely segregated, with most of the white people living in one part of the city and whole neighborhoods made up almost entirely of residents of color, I was taken with Karen DuBois-Walton’s reflection on what we lose by continuing to live apart from each other, in concentrated affluence or concentrated poverty, in cities divided into predominantly white spaces and those areas inhabited primarily by people of color.
Karen DuBois-Walton (15:38):
It just reinforces, for me, what’s lost when we live a segregated life and that the reality is that too many of us live a segregated life, where we work with people that are similar to us in background, that we go home to neighborhoods that are similar to our background, that we worship, if we worship, in places that are similar to our background. And in that, we are not sharing the stories and create our own personal family history and together, create a community narrative. And so, that just highlights for me that one of the things we need to do and one of the reasons I believe we need to create communities where people live together across income backgrounds, across racial and ethnic backgrounds, is because it’s the way we know each other and it’s the way we dispel whatever myths we’ve been told about each other and it’s the way that we just see the humanity that is shared.
Song Kim (16:36):
Related to this, Leslie Anderson from the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority, who has been working for decades to move money into under-resourced urban areas, has a very strong message about the importance and the power of communication across communities that lies at the heart of re-development work.
Leslie Anderson (16:53):
So, we’ve injected into the process community benefits agreements, where municipalities will take the time up front, before a developer is at the table, to discuss and understand, beyond infrastructure, what they want to see come out of a project that’s coming into their community. We also want them to be sure that they look at the impact on the school district and the services within their particular community.
Leslie Anderson (17:22):
I have a, if you don’t mind, an anecdotal story. It’s a community that I actually live in. It’s called Plainfield, New Jersey. They had an opportunity to keep a business in Plainfield. They were leasing space and they were very interested in building their own facility and remaining in the city. It kept 25 jobs of local residents in the city. However, what the developer who built the facility did… There was a church across the street and the church was somewhat opposed to affordable housing and this business moving in, and the developer, facilitated by the municipality, had a conversation with the pastor of the organization. And what came to light was the church had issues with parking and they had issues with parking on Sundays. Most of it was on street, and in some cases, the parishioners had to park far away and then walk to the church.
Leslie Anderson (18:24):
So, what the developer offered was… You know, it was a gated site. “We’ll keep the gate open on Sundays and when it snows, we’ll clean the lot for you and if you’re having special events, let us know and we’ll open so that you can park on site.” You know, those are the types of community benefits, because the pastor was very strongly opposed to the project and when we went to the ribbon-cutting, she was actually there and happy because she could see, not only the benefit to her church, but the benefit to the residents that were able to keep their jobs in the community. And the building itself took an environmentally compromised site and put a light manufacturing facility right on site. They provide… The company provides construction supplies to contractors.
Kate Cooney (19:12):
Leslie Anderson (19:13):
So, you know, it was like a feel-good, happy ending type of story. But if the city didn’t have a handle on how to address community concerns, the project could have been delayed and the company that moved in did not have time for a delay.
Kate Cooney (19:30):
Leslie Anderson (19:31):
They were working on a very tight timeframe. But, again, those two C’s, community and communication… The city being able to have a handle on it and move it forward was tremendous.
Kate Cooney (19:41):
That church parking lot story is a powerful example. Maybe because it highlights that some of the solutions to creating shared benefit are not elaborate puzzles at all. They are as simple as opening a gate on a Sunday morning. But these possibilities don’t reveal themselves without conversation and taking the time to really see each other. Another anecdote that came up more than once in our interviews had to do with a situation in Washington, DC, in the neighborhood abutting Howard University’s campus that is undergoing gentrification. Here is Leslie Anderson from the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority.
Leslie Anderson (20:14):
It really does make a difference when you treat the individuals in the community with a level of respect and understand that they do know the neighborhood, and a lot of times, they do want a better quality of life. So, development can come in, or re-development can come in, and make that happen. But normally, we get the bad word of “gentrification” when it comes in and there’s no discussion. I’m reminded right now of Howard University in Washington, DC and the effects of the new neighbors wanting to walk their dogs on the campus and not understanding why it’s not a dog park, but it’s an historically black university where some of the greatest minds in the world have come out and done great things to impact the community. But the lack of sensitivity to treat it like a dog park and think you can walk your dogs there; I mean, that’s probably gentrification at its worst.
Kate Cooney (21:10):
You know, you’re not the first person to bring up that story about Howard University. One of the speakers we had come through this semester, Greg Reaves from Mosaic Development Partners in Philadelphia…
Leslie Anderson (21:21):
Yes. I know Greg.
Kate Cooney (21:21):
Do you know Greg?
Leslie Anderson (21:22):
I know him very well.
Kate Cooney (21:23):
Oh, you know them? Yeah.
Leslie Anderson (21:24):
Kate Cooney (21:25):
He’s the one who told me the Howard story, too.
Leslie Anderson (21:27):
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. He would.
Kate Cooney (21:29):
That’s right, D.C. They’re talking about you in New Jersey and in Philadelphia. Greg Reaves had more to say in his interview about this broader issue of gentrification and respect.
Kate Cooney (21:40):
When it came time to finding tenants for Eastern Loft when you were finished, you tell a story about how you worked with a…
Greg Reaves (21:50):
Kate Cooney (21:51):
Berkshire Hathaway, to fill up the building. But then you had some second thoughts. So, tell us about that experience and the broader issue that it brings up about what these buildings can do to a community in terms of gentrification.
Greg Reaves (22:04):
Yes. When we were building Eastern Lofts, our lender insisted that we hire a leasing agent to help us fill these buildings up, these apartment units. And for good reason, because they want us to pay the debt, to service the debt. We were moving right along and we had a model unit. We had hired Berkshire Hathaway. That was in our agreement with the lender. We would hire an established company who has a reputation for housing and rentals, and so we negotiated a very good agreement with a very good team of people, really great guy.
Greg Reaves (22:38):
But early on, my partner and I, we’re both African-American, recognized that, I would say 90 percent of the people who were coming through looking at the apartments, they didn’t look like us. And we thought, “They seem to be great people. What do we know?” The problem was that it wasn’t reflective of the community we were in, and so we thought, not that he was doing anything untoward or wrong, but he didn’t have access to other communities that maybe we have access to.
Greg Reaves (23:12):
So, Leslie and I, my partner, we decided to go to a community group, a gentleman in Philadelphia who has a network of 14,000 African-American professionals that he has events with. They talk about business ideas. And we went to him and we said, “Look, we’re doing this building in this community and we really want more people to come in who are reflective of who’s already here. But people who have jobs, people who are college-educated.” And so we structured an agreement with them to be our leasing engine for that network. And the result was about 60 percent of their network ended up leasing the building.
Greg Reaves (23:51):
And so, now we have these entrepreneurs, we have these ice sculptors, we have these very cool, college-educated working people working with other people who are less college-educated or not college-educated, and it’s just a very, very interesting mix of people. But the end result is that the community doesn’t feel as if we’ve gentrified the neighborhood because the people who live in there are sensitive to community issues. They know the neighborhood. They are not afraid of the neighborhood. I’m not saying we’ve never had problems. We’ve some car break-ins. But the result has been one where both the community who lives there and the community who doesn’t live there respect the boundaries of what’s going on in this neighborhood.
Greg Reaves (24:38):
And so, when we go into neighborhoods now, we know we can’t use traditional leasing or marketing strategies from these well-established, very good companies, because they’re going to miss something.
Kate Cooney (24:50):
In addition, our guests talked about the importance of delivering on the benefits that you promise. Here’s Jason Price from NXTHVN.
Jason Price (24:57):
The caution would be, people in those neighborhoods are skeptical. As you’re taking them, as you’re inviting them in and they’re nodding with you, there’s this tendency for them to walk away and say, “I don’t believe it.” The only way you generate or engender trust is if you deliver on the promise. And so, as we delivered on the promise, some of those naysayers then came around and began to say, “I’m with you. I didn’t think you could do it, but I’m with you.” So, I would say, you know, one, get out there and be part of the community and be genuine about it. But then, two, realize it’s a long road. You know, you don’t win people over in a day.
Kate Cooney (25:41):
In Karen DuBois-Walton’s work redeveloping the old public housing stock in New Haven, she’s made an effort to include the residents in the re-design process. To hear her talk about that work reminds us of the dividends that investments in a truly participatory process can produce.
Karen DuBois-Walton (25:57):
I think when it comes to planning our redevelopment efforts, I like to say we subscribe to the “nothing about us without us” approach, in that we are planning people’s community and people’s homes, and we can’t do that without really centering the voice of the people who are going to benefit from it. I think, again, it’s a part of… It’s aligned with equity. I think it’s a very top-down, disempowering model to think that I can come in with my frame and my development team and tell a group of people what’s going to be right for them. And so, we do a lot of community process in redevelopment, hearing from them, what works.
Karen DuBois-Walton (26:37):
One thing I’m always struck with is that I can be an outsider in a development looking in at somebody’s development and identify all the things that aren’t working and all the things that we’re going to fix for them in this new development and how amazing it is. And it’s always striking to me to go into the community meeting and to listen, because in that listening, I hear all of the things that they love about it. Now, I hear the complaints, too, right? But I hear all of the things that they love about it. And so it’s never… It’s never just a, “Tear this down because this is awful and what are you going to build us?” But it’s also this balance of, “What am I going to lose by you tearing it down, because this has been community?” And for whatever we know is leaking or costing us a lot to maintain or has outlived its useful life, that always has to be balanced with the fact that this has created home for a family and for a community.
Karen DuBois-Walton (27:32):
And so, participatory planning, for me, is about figuring out what are those elements that need to carry through, that we need to replicate. Hearing very clearly what hasn’t worked and integrating that into the process and never being so proud and satisfied with our drawing to think that that first drawing, or even the eighth drawing, is the perfect drawing. We have gotten to things that we are really proud of because we’ve been able to come in, hear, design, bring it back, hear what we missed the first time, see what we got wrong, see what we got right, go back, re-design.
Karen DuBois-Walton (28:13):
And so, that’s in terms of, you know, what the units look like and what amenities are there. But it’s also been about what businesses are we trying to attract? What would really help the community move forward because it would be so much easier if they could just go downstairs to the first floor and buy the eggs and not have to take a half-hour bus ride to get to buy a dozen eggs.
Karen DuBois-Walton (28:34):
So, hearing the voice of the residents has been really key. It’s been really fascinating to watch the evolution of the development of trust between the community and our organization as a developer now. And when I think about the first ones that I was involved in, there was a real spirit of mistrust, that somehow this was going to displace people, that it was going to be built, it was not going to be for them. I’m not sure that it was a thought of gentrification so much as a thought that this new thing wasn’t going to be for them. And, you know, really long, drawn-out, but necessarily drawn-out process, to sort of build community goodwill and trust in those early developments. Folks really fighting and not wanting this because of that trust.
Karen DuBois-Walton (29:18):
Fast forward now, having done several developments, having kept our word. People know now. They come back. They come back if they want to come back. If not, know that they’ve got a voucher. They go where they want to go. To the point that now, people, if we haven’t gotten to their development, it’s like, “Well, when are you going to get to us?” And, you know, an urgency, because they see, I think, that we’ve done it in a way that was participatory, that the end product is so improved over what they had, but has tried to retain what they liked about what they had. And that it was for them, that at the end of the day, we told them we were building something that they’d come back to, and that that’s what they got.
Song Kim (29:54):
Let’s not forget that the residential patterns of concentrated wealth and poverty at the neighborhood level in so many of America’s cities are the result of a fairly intentional set of policies, and there’s a lot of mistrust to overcome.
Karen DuBois-Walton (30:07):
And so, this is about so much more than changing the physical space that they can lay their head in every night. I think it really is about changing people’s lives and sending a message that we’re serious about undoing patterns that are 400 years in this country of telling you that you don’t matter or that you’re less than, and that this is about a step toward creating spaces that feel like something that you can potentially really thrive in.
Kate Cooney (30:33):
Across the country, Nancy Halpern Ibrahim, Executive Director of Esperanza Housing in South Central Los Angeles, had a very similar set of reflections.
Nancy Halpern Ibrahim (30:42):
When we say “Better neighborhood, same neighbors,” that is really what we mean. We think that our own folks, the folks who already live there, should, by right, have access to improvements and should not be kicked to the curb when the Opportunity Zones or other kinds of improvements and investments are made in the neighborhood. We want to see those investments made because of the people who live there and not despite them.
Song Kim (31:08):
To Nancy’s last point, I really appreciated the emphasis that Julius Kimbrough, Executive Director of the Crescent City Community Land Trust in New Orleans, places on the crucial role that the people in the Opportunity Zone neighborhoods play as generators of culture and as providers of labor and frankly, the debt we owe to these communities.
Julius Kimbrough (31:28):
That average New Orleanian I’m describing has a high school degree from an Orleans Parish school and they work in our service industry, and they are critical to New Orleans’ economy. They provide great service. They’re the largest number of people who live in the city. They’re the backbone of our labor force. They are culture bearers, the culture that we all see represented on television and in the arts. Terence Blanchard, all of the people that any of us can name, the Neville Brothers, they grew up in the urban core of New Orleans. The Mardi Gras Indian culture that we’re aware of, the second line music that is a national treasure. Jazz itself, you know, created a couple of hundred years ago. It all incubated in this urban core.
Kate Cooney (32:13):
Like many U.S. cities, New Haven is a city that’s faced with tough challenges of inequality, lack of affordable housing and jobs. But one with a rich history, robust institutions and a wealth of expertise and knowledge and resilience among community members.
Song Kim (32:29):
Perhaps the opportunity zone program offers a pathway to the realization of city and communities’ vision for their neighborhoods to be walkable, bikeable, safe spaces for people who live here, to have meaningful and lucrative workforce development and job creation opportunities and to lay the foundation for a city where we truly live together in integrated neighborhoods and schools, rather than existing side by side in radically different levels of wealth and privilege.
Kate Cooney (32:55):
And if the Opportunity Zone program doesn’t turn out to be the right mechanism to achieve this future, let’s find another way to get there, because as Leslie Anderson reminds us…
Leslie Anderson (33:05):
I believe, at the end of the day, everyone wants the same thing. They want to live in a neighborhood that’s safe. They want adequate housing. They want their children to be safe. They want quality access to food and medicine. So, again, at the end of the day, we all want the same things. We just have different resources to get there.
Song Kim (33:24):
Thank you for tuning in and being on this journey with us as we learned what’s possible, grappled with hard questions and unique challenges and became hopeful we can co-create more inclusive, thriving futures together.
Sara Harari (33:43):
Well, we’ve come to the end of the line. The end of the road.
Dan Bitner (33:47):
The end zone?
Sara Harari (33:48):
Sure. The end zone of our Opportunity Zone podcast season.
Dan Bitner (33:52):
Dear CitySCOPE was taken from us so soon. Time, that wicked goddess, has no mercy. So that’s it.
Sara Harari (34:01):
Well, that’s it for now, but we can tune in next year, in early July, for season two of the CitySCOPE podcast.
Dan Bitner (34:07):
Shoot. That’s a long time to wait.
Sara Harari (34:09):
It is. I know. But, Professor Cooney will be designing that spring 2020 lab around a different topic related to inclusive economic development and we can all tune in to learn alongside her and her next cohort of students.
Dan Bitner (34:20):
I guess I’ll see you next summer.
Sara Bitner (34:22):
Kate Cooney (34:29):
This has been season one of CitySCOPE podcast. Visit the show notes at iedl.yale.edu for more information about our guest interviews, our student narrators, myself and to find links to information about the models we explored and about opportunity zones more generally.
Kate Cooney (34:48):
Special thanks to Aicha Woods, Executive Director of City Plan Department for City of New Haven; Arlevia Samuel, Manager for Neighborhood and Commercial Development for the City of New Haven; and Karla Lindquist and Steve Fontana from Economic Development for the City of New Haven.
Kate Cooney (35:04):
To the CMT leaders who welcomed us in their meetings - Kim Harris, Diane Ecton, Sarah McIver and Nina Don [?]. And our citizen guides to the neighborhoods, Lee Cruz, John Jessen, Lizzie Jonias, the community members of The Hill South who came out to the Wilson Library for a roundtable chat. You know who you are. And all those New Haven residents who filled the rooms at the Tsai City Inclusive Economic Development Speaker Series and the Neighborhood Community Management Team meetings. You inspired and educated us in equal measure.
Kate Cooney (35:38):
Join us next year when we explore another topic in the Inclusive Economic Development Lab and share what we learned with you on CitySCOPE podcast, Season Two. See you then.
Lauren Harper (18:49):
This podcast was recorded in studios at the Yale School of Management, the Yale Broadcast Studio and the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning.
Liam Grace-Flood (18:56):
Created by Kate Cooney and the students of the Spring 2019 Inclusive Economic Development Lab class.
Kate Cooney (19:03):
Special thanks to everyone at the Yale SOM studio and Media Control Center: Froilan Cruz, Abraham Texidor, Donny Bristol, Enoc Reyes, and Jessica Rogers.
Kate Cooney (19:12):
And at the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning: Brian Pauze and John Harford.
Paul Bashir (19:18):
Audio engineering and production by Ryan McEvoy and Kate Cooney.
Kate Cooney (19:22):
Music from the album, Elm City Trees, composed and performed by the artist, K. Dub. For more information and show notes, visit our website at IEDL.yale.edu.
Camilo Monge (19:36):
Thank you for listening.