Local & State
|Community advocate’s objective: Take on West End gentrification|
|Nonprofit battles predatory land speculators|
|Published Wednesday, January 15, 2020 11:12 am|
|PHOTO | PAUL WILLIAMS III|
|Alesha Brown launched For The Struggle to advocate for homeowners at risk of losing their property to gentrification.|
Alesha Brown gets tired of the daily pitches to sell her University Park home.
They’re in her mailbox. There’s texts to the mobile phone, too. And then the in-person knocks on her door.
Brown, a civil rights attorney who moved into the neighborhood in 2018, is far from alone. Speculators call, mail and text her neighbors with proposals to buy their property – often for thousands of dollars under market rates. It’s a common occurrence in Charlotte’s urban, mostly black communities where lower-income homeowners are targeted by predatory buyers.
It moved Brown to act.
“I intentionally moved here because I wanted to live in a historically black neighborhood and I’m living it. I’m seeing it. I’m feeling the issue. I’m seeing how it's affecting my neighbors. I've heard from many of my neighbors about issues with respect to gentrification and [predatory buyers] contacting them to purchase their home for amounts that are far under market value. I'm living that experience, so I know it’s a continuing a community issue that's been defined by the community.”
To combat the pressures of gentrification, Brown launched For The Struggle to advocate for neighbors to maintain their homes by leveraging resources and creating orderly transition of property to heirs. Volunteers will canvass University Park on Jan. 20.
“Predatory investors will knock on doors, they will call your cell phone, they’ll call your office line, they’ll call in the family members’ phone,” Brown. “They’ll email you and I have no idea how they're getting this information. … I mean it’s constant, non-stop, every day, they’ll leave leaflets in your mail, knocking on your door and calling or texts and literally texting or text your cell phone asking to purchase your property.”
Brown said rallying neighbors to understand their rights as property owners has been well received. Many of them – especially seniors concerned about staying in their homes are keen to learn more.
“Gentrification can't happen unless we allow it to,” she said. “We have to sell our homes and allow them to come in. We have the power to control that, so we have the knowledge of the extent of our power. And that's where we can really make a meaningful difference in preserving our neighborhoods and protecting our culture.”
Brown said volunteers will canvass neighborhoods every 60 to 90 days to help homeowners who have questions or looking for solutions to concerns they could lose their homes.
“A lot of folks are upset about what’s happening,” she said. “It’s just they don't know, or they haven’t been presented with an opportunity to do something about it. Most of the people are people in our community. That means the seniors. The younger folks like myself. This is a way to get folks involved so that we can save our neighbors who don’t realize that $50,000 and $60,000 in cash is not a lot of money and it doesn't amount to the value of your home.”
For The Struggle is at capacity for volunteers on the Jan. 20 canvassing from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., but there’s room for future its Lincoln Heights initiative on March 14. Volunteers will be dressed in black and wearing lanyards identifying them.
“We’ve already got a great response for that one as well,” Brown said. “When it comes to trying to get folks to buy in, it hasn’t been difficult at all because folks are already upset about this. This effort is a way for them to put their frustration with what's happening and action it.”
The nonprofit has attorneys, financial advisors and real estate agents to help homeowners with strategies to keep property in the family, a first step in creating generational wealth.
“What we're also seeing is that it’s not necessarily grandma who wants to sell the home,” Brown said, “but grandma passes away, and then it's the younger generation who aren't aware of property value, who again believe $50,000 or $60,000 in cash is a lot of money.
“Property is value, and when you talk about generational value in how black folks in particular, lag behind their white counterparts in terms of being able to build that generational wealth. This is a step towards rectifying this. …Generational wealth is so important and it's so important for our community to understand that one of the main components of that is owning real property.”
Brown envisions For The Struggle spreading beyond Historic West End to other neighborhoods threatened by gentrification. There’s plenty of work in Charlotte to tackle for now.
“This is not limited in scope,” she said. “This is our starting point. This is our pilot project. We have to start somewhere so we're starting with the historically black neighborhoods in Historic West End, then we're going to then move on to different areas where there are historically black neighborhoods where this is happening to the extent that it hasn’t already happened by the time we get there. And then, we're hoping to make a statewide and a nationwide effort.”
On the Net:
|I am so glad this is happening!!! I would love to volunteer when I get back to Charlotte and I believe I will be buying a home in a Historically Black Community as well....|
|Posted on January 18, 2020|
|LOVE THE MOVEMENT,VERY POSITIVE MOVEMENT???PRAYING THEY REACH SOUTH CAROLINA & GEORGIA ALSO??|
|Posted on January 16, 2020|
|Love this kind o f reporting. We stay current and we learn. Continue as you always have to do this yep good work,|
|Posted on January 16, 2020|
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