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11/22/2019 | Organizing for Housing Justice & A Home to Thrive

Statement: It’s Time to Repeal Trump’s Corrupt Opportunity Zones

“The farce is up: Trump’s ‘Opportunity Zones’ only create opportunity for luxury developers,” says national community organizing network

11.22.2019

WASHINGTON -- Today, Representative Rashida Tlaib introduced legislation to repeal President Donald Trump’s controversial “Opportunity Zone” tax incentive provision. With Tlaib’s legislation, firms would no longer be able to collect capital gains tax breaks for projects in areas the Treasury Department designates as “opportunity zones.” The program has come under scrutiny for corruption. Though initially intended to be an economic development tool in low-income areas, news has broken about its application in wealthy communities as favors to developers and wealthy individuals. Estimates suggest that Tlaib’s legislation would save the federal government $1 billion in tax revenue over the next decade.

In response to the legislation, members of Data for Progress and the Center for Popular Democracy network released the following statements:

Dianne Enriquez, Co-Director of Community Dignity Campaigns, Center for Popular Democracy

“The farce is up: Trump’s ‘Opportunity Zones’ only create opportunity for luxury developers. While these firms receive millions of dollars in tax incentives, millions of people in this country are homeless or housing insecure. Representative Rashida Tlaib’s legislation is an important first step in unrigging the system so that we can work toward a future where we all have a home to thrive.”

Branden Snyder, Executive Director, Detroit Action

“The people who benefit most from President Trump’s Opportunity Zones provision are billionaires real estate developers.. Instead of building the affordable housing that our city -- and our country -- desperately need, the provision is worsening displacement and padding the pockets of billionaires. I applaud Representative Rashida Tlaib for introducing a repeal to the Opportunity Zone tax break so that we can get to work actually addressing the housing crisis in Detroit and nationwide.”

Maxwell Cabello, Senior Land Use and Policy Analyst, Churches United for Fair Housing

"Churches United for Fair Housing supports the necessary repeal of the federal Opportunity Zone legislation. The mechanics of this legislation allow for wealthy developers, investment funds, and other private parties to generate enormous profits from the exploitation of largely low-income communities of color while also being provided shelter from their existing tax obligations. The Opportunity Zone legislation provides no regulatory controls to guarantee investments benefit low-income residents who live or work in designated opportunity zones, and any future legislation must include strict parameters and strong enforcement to ensure investment benefits those truly in need rather than simply create yet another tax shelter for the wealthy." 

Daniel Aldana Cohen, Fellow, Data for Progress

"Trump's so-called "Opportunity Zones" tax credit does nothing to help low-income communities, and especially communities of color, that have suffered decades of disinvestment. It does, however, help private investors with generous tax cuts. We endorse Rep. Tlaib's legislation to repeal this bad policy, and to instead invest directly in genuine affordable housing programs, and building wealth in the communities that need it most."

The following organizations from the Center for Popular Democracy network have endorsed the legislation: Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Arkansas Community Organization, Churches United for Fair Housing, Detroit Action, Make the Road Nevada, Maryland Communities United, New York Communities for Change, and Organize Florida.

 

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Media Contact: Lia Weintraub, lweintraub@populardemocracy.org, 202-618-2482
Friday, November 22, 2019