Jul 26, 2021
What do you think about when you see abandoned buildings and overgrown plots of vacant land? More importantly, how do you feel if they are fixtures in your own community? Dr. Akilah Watkins, CEO of the Center for Community Progress, sees the physical manifestation of housing segregation, disinvestment and other federal policies that have generated a devastating wealth gap in Black and Brown communities. And she has felt the despair those conditions evoke in people who experience them every day. Akilah envisions a better future for communities when deteriorated spaces are transformed into vital community assets. Her team is highly skilled in community organizing, real estate financing, land banking and bill drafting, all requirements in bringing the vision to life. The Center invites residents to reimagine deteriorated spaces as affordable housing, parks, businesses and land banks. And it partners with municipalities to identify the resources, changes in zoning ordinances and state enabling legislation needed to make these material changes achievable. The Center for Community Progress brings a perfect fusion of vision and technical know-how to the future of community development. More power to them.