Community Investment Program Could Help Revive Northeast KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Community Investment Trust (CIT) is a way for people to become homeowners without breaking the bank.

For as little as $10 a month, people who live in historic northeast Kansas City could be part of this program.

They can invest a minimum of $10 and up to $100 per month in a property purchased by a group of “impact investors” who can pay for the building up front.

Over time, community investors will own the property once the full cost of ownership has been taken into account and investors can grow their wealth and even earn dividends.

“It’s a way for existing residents to participate in the broader economic development happening around them,” said Emily Lecuyer, director of impact investing at AltCap.

Lecuyer said this neighborhood was chosen because of its diversity and the region’s changing landscape.

“We were looking for a neighborhood that was seeing some of the potentially negative impacts of gentrification and wanted to put the CIT in place at a time when we can still get affordable property,” Lecuyer said, “to make improvements that the community would like. see and really help everyone participate in this growth.”

The only CIT in the country is in Portland, Oregon, where there are more than 100 community investors with nearly $40,000 invested in their property – a strip mall with various businesses inside.

Since this is only an idea for Kansas City, Missouri, a property or building has not yet been selected. The groups are still measuring interest in the concept.

“Imagine some sort of strip mall,” Lecuyer said. “So we’re looking for a total of maybe 20 tenants, a location that would attract non-profit service providers, as well as businesses that the community has told us they want to see in their neighborhood.”

To calm fears of losing money, Lecuyer said, safeguards are in place.

“There is a guarantee against the loss of your invested capital, which is very important to help protect people as they build their investments,” Lecuyer said.

Some residents who live in the historic district, like Jordan Schiele, who runs Jerusalem Farm, help publicize the program.

“In particular, we were reaching out to people whose voices may not always be heard, immigrant and refugee groups that we work with,” Schiele said.

Schiele said he thinks the more people learn about the program, the more excited they’ll be to be investors.

“I think this program has the potential to also be another tool to ensure that residents who have lived in these neighborhoods for a long time also reap some of the benefits of gentrification and changing property values ​​in the area,” he said. -he declares.

An educational component would also be part of the project, teaching new investors how to manage their money and how the program works.

The goal here too is for the community to invest in that particular property, the whole neighborhood will benefit.

“I think this is a great opportunity for the economy of the northeast, and especially for the people of the northeast,” said Bobbi Baker-Hughes, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the northeast of Kansas City. “They can not only buy local, buy local, but they can own local and have a stake in it and that’s important.”

It’s a way to build community by investing in it.

“Keep this wealth within our communities and work together as neighbors,” Schiele said.

The group still wants to hear from residents of the Northeast. They can contribute through a survey.

Jill E. Washington