D.C. Delegation Studies National Model for Neighborhood Revitalization

A delegation of D.C. civic and business leaders, including members of the Federal City Council (FC2), traveled to Georgia to see how Atlanta-based Purpose Build Communities has helped to build stronger, healthier and more resilient neighborhoods.

The Purpose Built Communities’ model encourages local leaders to transform struggling neighborhoods through new mixed-use development and by offering vital, on-site components such as education and wellness resources.

“We’re interested in looking at effective models for community redevelopment with leadership at the community level and buy-in from cross-sector stakeholders from business, philanthropy and government,” says Kevin Clinton, Chief Operating Officer of the FC2. “We wanted to look at Purpose Built Communities to explore scalable solutions that we might be able to employ in our Washington Housing Social Impact Initiative.”

The housing Initiative, sponsored by FC2 and JBG Smith, is designed to apply market-driven approaches to create community engagement, social impact and economic development for distressed communities. This community-led initiative has broad support from a partnership of D.C.’s top business and non-profit leaders.

The housing initiative seeks to create a fund of up to $100 to $150 million in equity commitments to build or preserve 2,000 to 3,000 affordable housing units in the Washington, D.C., region. At least 50 percent or more of investments must be made in D.C.

A community redevelopment model with possible lessons for FC2 was developed in the East Lake Community outside Atlanta, which has become a national model of neighborhood revitalization and community engagement. The delegation saw firsthand how the East Lake Foundation, which was created in 1995, helped transform one of Atlanta’s most troubled neighborhoods. The foundation worked with community leaders to champion a revitalization effort, offering tools and tactics to enable residents to build brighter futures.

“The Purpose Built thinking and strategy is to have a local face and organization that’s going to be there and stay there to support the initiatives,” says Emeka Moneme, the FC2’s Deputy Executive Director.

The delegation included representatives from JBG Smith, JP Morgan Chase, Venture Philanthropy Partners, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and Fannie Mae. A highlight of the trip was visiting the Charles R. Drew Senior Academy and Drew Elementary Academy. Dr. Drew is the father of FC2 Trustee Charlene Drew Jarvis.