Open Call for Ideas: Policies

Neighborhood investment policy solutions

Urban disinvestment is largely the outcome of structurally racist public policy that strips low-income communities of the capacity to chart their own destinies. Federal highways bisected neighborhoods in the 1960s, effectively locking in the racial segregation that now threatens the competitiveness of our entire region. Urban sprawl continues to pull critical resources away from established communities in need of repopulation and reinvestment. The legacy of redlining is apparent in the lower value of properties in Black and Latinx communities in comparison with White communities. These are policy outcomes.

Fortunately, where policy causes under-investment, it also solves for it. Zoning provisions that were historically used to separate people from opportunity are now mixing uses to promote community vibrancy, encouraging densities that are good for business development and incentivizing living near transit—a long-overdue idea in a region with a legacy rail system and nearly 400 transit stations. Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund uses bonus provisions to encourage developers in one of the world’s most successful downtowns to invest financial capital in the city’s South and West Side communities. Promising new laws, including the Future Energy Jobs Act and the legalization of cannabis, are building new markets that, if constructed and directed equitably, will bring financial investment to under-invested communities.

Through the Catalyzing Neighborhood Investment strategy, the Trust is seeking ideas for policy and regulatory solutions that enable under-invested, majority Black and Latinx communities to attract financial capital, facilitate real estate development and build community wealth. Eligible ideas include research, analyses and activities for new and existing policies, regulations and market-based incentives at the local, regional and state levels.


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