Gentrification (noun): the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste.

Some may look at gentrification and say, “Oh, it’s not that bad! They’re just making the neighborhoods safer”. We wish that was only the case, but it is not.

Gentrification is pushing Black and Brown families and individuals out of their neighborhoods due the rising living costs. It replaces old houses and the projects with sky-rise apartment buildings hat start at $1200 for just a studio (and that’s on the low end). Food for Less gets replaced with Whole Foods, which most in the hood cannot afford to buy.

So how do we fix this? Get more Black contractors to build up the community for the benefit of our people. According to WeBuyBlack, Southern University graduate Christopher Senegal recently acquired two blocks in Houston’s historic Fifth Ward known for its African American roots and dubbed Houston’s “Black Wall Street“. He started a new initiative called “Buy The Block” to help native residents invest in their properties so they can stay in the neighborhood for the long-term future.

He started this journey back in 2013 after purchasing a block that no one wanted because of it being drug and crime ridden. The journey was no easy feat though. Senegal had to go through 23 denials with lenders before receiving funding.

In addition to going to different lenders, the ambitious entrepreneur used crowdfunding to allow people to invest as little as $250 to own a piece of the company’s real estate portfolio. Underneath the first development, there are 14 townhomes worth $3.9 million which are focused on bringing successful, native black professionals back to the neighborhood.

The other development package consists of 18 homes and two commercial buildings worth $1.3 million. Altogether, Senegal has managed approximately $700,000 through crowdfunding to protect his long-term, fixed-income residents from displacement.

He hopes to encourage others to invest in their communities rather than move out when they reach a higher income bracket.

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