Denouncing the Myth of Place-Based Subsidies as the Solution for Economically Distressed Communities: An Analysis of Opportunity Zones as a Subsidy for Low-Income Displacement

Jordan, Bre

In an attempt to remedy the uneven balance of investment in distressed, low-income communities, legislators enacted the Opportunity Zone legislation—a place-based tax subsidy included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Focusing primarily on capital investment, the Opportunity Zone legislation fails to incentivize community engagement, preserve affordable housing, or mitigate against displacement. The subsidy is likely to benefit wealthy investors and large corporations at the expense of low-income, minority residents who can no longer afford to live in areas they once called home. This Note provides a comparative critique of Opportunity Zones and similar efforts to revitalize urban areas. By examining how Opportunity Zones eliminate affordable housing and displace low-income communities, this Note offers alternative solutions aimed at helping the low-income communities the subsidy fails to protect.

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Columbia Journal of Race and Law

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July 10, 2020