In the City of Wilmington, the challenges posed by systemic racism are nothing new.
Wilmington’s neighborhoods have been particularly harmed by the legacy of racist policies that have fueled segregation and a vicious cycle of disinvestment, leading to the devaluation of assets and a large number of vacant properties that contribute to crime and instability in communities of color. It has never been clearer that this disinvestment dynamic requires policy action to reverse it. Cinnaire has published a paper to build understanding of the barriers to bringing new investment to these communities, why policy action is needed, and what policies we think it will take to begin this important work. This paper is informed by our work as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) serving Wilmington. Cinnaire has been working to address vacancy and blight in the City by acquiring and redeveloping properties to create affordable homeownership opportunities in Wilmington. While we are committed to this work, we recognize that for it to be scaled – and for more organizations to engage in these activities – substantial policy solutions are needed. There is some momentum for change. Heightened awareness of the legacy of racist policies, including housing laws, has fueled calls for action. In addition, an influx of resources from the American Rescue Plan Act presents an opportunity for City and State leaders to meet this challenge. Public officials, including Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki, have already called for robust investments in Wilmington’s neighborhoods. We stand ready to work with them in that effort. We hope this paper starts conversations in Wilmington and the State of Delaware about what will be needed to right historical wrongs, meet the responsibility of reversing the legacy of racist policies, and bring the potential benefits of homeownership opportunities in communities of color, including narrowing the racial wealth gap and promoting community stability. Cinnaire is not alone in working to address these issues in Wilmington. This paper was developed in consultation with several organizations active in Wilmington. We thank them for their thoughtful contributions, and we hope this paper sparks further conversations about the best ways for community organizations, public officials, and other stakeholders to work together to address Wilmington’s challenges.
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