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Book Chapter

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public-private partnerships, affordable housing, displacement, shareholding, participation, equity-stripping


The special concern of this paper is to recalibrate the benefits and burdens of public-private partnerships as they remake inner city neighborhoods, by braking the rate at which urban land is being reclaimed from low-wealth residents by local government practices to disperse occupants, sweeping aside their tangible and intangible capital. Public oversight requirements have not kept pace with the dispossession, yet the costs that these development decisions impose on the social fabric of communities rend the shared networks necessary to residents’ abilities to meet basic social needs. This destruction of low-wealth communities is a form of equity-stripping, produced by local government policies to deploy land use powers and sink public subsidy into for-profit redevelopments that cater to wealthier in-movers. This paper explores community-based equity shareholding in public/private redevelopment projects. Community Equity Shares (CES) embody three principles. First, community equity shareholding recognizes limited rights in an existing community, akin to land ownership, as the basis for both participation in the decision-making about the character of the redevelopment, and profit participation in the redevelopment projects that displace long-term residents. Second, by instantiating social and geographic community as ownership in the calculus of land-use, it is possible for residents in the district of a proposed redevelopment to parlay those shares for two purposes: for participation in the decision-making about proposed redevelopment, and for participation in the profits from the displacing redevelopment project. The third principle is the addition of a player, the special-purpose Community Equity Corporation, comprised of all the community equity shareholders and wielding their limited powers in common, as participants in the redevelopment deal-making that, otherwise unchecked, would impose undue burdens including displacement upon the long-term residents of the targeted district. Community Equity Shareholding can be effectuated through changes in local governments’ redevelopment and procurement procedures, to more equitably adjust the calculus when government uses or threatens to use its land use powers to displace low-income communities as it re-engineers urban environs in concert with private developers.


Property Law and Real Estate