COMMUNITY INVESTMENT TRUSTS: FIGHTING POVERTY & RACIAL INEQUITY THROUGH DEMOCRATIZED ACCESS TO REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT
October 16, 2023
Read more about a growing network of CIT projects across the United States.
US financial systems were designed to benefit the few. The Community Investment Trust (CIT) was developed by Mercy Corps to open the system by leveraging collective ownership of commercial real estate as a more accessible way to investment. We guide local organizations in purchasing commercial retail property in neighborhoods with limited investment choices and/or neighborhoods affected by poverty.
Through this model, local residents have access to high-quality financial action coaching and the opportunity to participate in a low-dollar ($10-$100/month), loss-protected commercial real estate investment that can be cashed out at any time. CIT harnesses the financial system in a new way to create transformative change at individual, community, and systemic levels for low-to-moderate income (LMI) households, immigrants, and communities of color across the United States. Mercy Corps’ first Community Investment Trust is the East Portland CIT located in Portland, OR.
CITs offer an opportunity to stabilize properties, engage neighborhoods, and spur economic and social conditions. CIT is community-led – each community holds autonomy to shape their CIT from selecting the commercial or retail property, to curating its tenants, to tailoring their outreach with local partners such as housing agencies, churches, and schools.
In 2022, CIT was awarded a grant by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation to provide training, coaching, and advisory work to lead organizations in Detroit, MI; Albany, NY; Brooklyn, NY; New Orleans, LA; Dallas, TX; Tulsa, OK; Minneapolis, MN and Seattle, WA to build a national network of CIT projects at all phases of their learning, analysis, launch, and ongoing management.
The opportunity involves a two-year commitment, supported by a $75K sub-grant to each organization in the eight target cities. The funding will support their work with the CIT team to build a localized plan for their own CIT. The group will seed and join a robust Community of Practice (COP) network, which will be an ongoing platform for connections, Q&A, learning, problem solving, alignment of the CIT legal and financial fidelity, and impact tracking.
Earlier this year, three lead organizations were selected through an open application process to join the first cohort of the CIT feasibility study:
People's Housing+, New Orleans, LA
Brownsville Partnership, Brooklyn, NY
The Cultural Wellness Center, Minneapolis, MN
There is currently one organization in a post-feasibility study phase – the Capital Region CIT powered by Community Loan Fund in Albany, NY.
The cohort visited Portland in October and was a great opportunity for networking, robust discussion, and engagement with community leaders. All lead organizations are dedicated to increasing financial inclusion, equitable development, reducing asset poverty and improving community health by engaging community members in a common cause to increase safety, unity, and community engagement through making an investment in the community in which they live.
We are currently reviewing applications for the second cohort in the following cities:
We are looking for lead 501c3 organizations who agree to the guiding principles to support the implementation of the CIT model in places of need. These may include non-profits, housing agencies, religious institutions, / economic development agencies or a collaboration of these or other appropriate stakeholders.
If you are interested in implementing this model in your area, please fill this form and you will be notified of next steps shortly after. For more information on CIT, please check out Resources (investcit.com).
We are grateful to the JPMorgan Chase Foundation for supporting CIT implementation nationwide and moving the economy forward. Learn more at www.jpmorganchase.com/impact.