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Built With Humanity: Solutions for Gentrification in Austin, Texas

A design fellowship that invites Black and Latinx innovators to collaborate on sustainable urban design.

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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional insights gathered from Beneficiary Feedback in this field

In July 2018, we hosted a workshop to "prototype" the fellowship program. At the end of the event, we administered a survey to collect feedback from our participants. Based on the responses, we discovered the following: 1) the program theme should target affordability and workforce inclusion as it relates to gentrification, 2) a cross-sectoral approach is necessary to eliminate silo-ed efforts, and 3) fellows will require exposure to local businesses and decision-makers.

Why does the target community define this problem as urgent and/or a priority? How is the idea leveraging and empowering community assets to help create an environment for success? (1000 characters)

From 2010-2015, the cost of living in Austin increased 37% and is still increasing. In addition, local housing costs are outpacing household income at a rate of nearly 750%. Meanwhile, there are over 99,000 families in Austin who are not making a living wage, a phenomenon that has also resulted in an increased homeless population. According to residents, the most painful aspects of gentrification include the threat of poverty, feeling coerced to sell their homes, and unfair targeting by city policies and developers. We seek to leverage local entrepreneurial assets to bring opportunity to low income minorities. Specifically, we developed a strategic collaboration with the following: 1) Austin Center for Design 2) Impact Hub Austin, a co-working space and social entrepreneurship network, 3) Creative Reaction Lab, an award-winning organization that established the equity-centered community design framework, and 4) the Austin Office of Innovation.

How does the idea fit within the larger ecosystem that surrounds it? Urgent needs are usually a symptom of a larger issue that rests within multiple interrelated symptoms - share what you know about the context surrounding the problem you are aiming to solve. (500 characters)

In Austin, housing segregation began with the creation of the Koch and Fowler city plan, which proposed the creation of a “Negro District” (East Austin) in 1928. In 1935, a federal program formalized the boundaries for this district. Economic divestment caused by these policies, coupled with rapid development, caused East Austin to become one of the most rapidly gentrifying areas in the United States. Top-down interventions haven't been effective, therefore trust in the government is waning.

How does the idea affect or change the fundamental nature of the larger ecosystem that surrounds it (as described above) in a new and/or far-reaching way? (500 characters)

Built With Humanity (BWH) transforms the paradigm of urban development by utilizing community knowledge and resources to counteract displacement. The design fellowship aims to undermine the economic effect of historically racist housing policies by educating Black and Latinx innovators to lead equity-centered innovation in their communities. Specifically, the program will promote equitable community development through minority-led businesses that support affordability and workforce inclusion.

What will be different within the target community as a result of implementing the idea? What is the scope and scale of that difference? How long will it take to see that difference and how will it be sustained beyond BridgeBuilder support? (500 characters)

Fellows will: 1) be committed equity designers on behalf of their communities, 2) increase economic opportunity while preserving Black and Latinx culture, 3) raise awareness of structural segregation, and 4) support Austin’s Strategic Plan addressing development. We aim to create ventures that support higher incomes for 100 at-risk families within 3 years and/or lower costs of living for those families in the same period. Ventures will be sustained by earned income and a mentorship network.

How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

Fellowship Structure: - We will utilize AC4D courses to provide comprehensive design education. - We will focus our efforts on two key areas: workforce inclusion and affordability. - We will include a total of 4 fellows who will work together throughout the duration of the program. Note: AC4D confirmed that 14 of their traditional students will also focus on gentrification if we are awarded the grant. - Each cohort will consist of 2 student fellows and 2 community fellows (with lived experience). The program will allow adults (18-29) without college degrees to participate in order to provide more opportunity to all community members. Community Design: - We will take a collaborative approach to engaging the city planning, economic development, local business, developers, and community members. - We will place special emphasis on designing ventures that preserve culture.

What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (You can attach a timeline or GANTT chart in place of a written plan, if desired.) (1000 characters)

Implementation steps for the pre-fellowship phase are: Present-Dec 2018: Market and advertise the fellowship among local colleges and universities, as well as community organizations. Formalize partnerships, including the commitments and responsibilities for each partner, outlining the their scope of work, and agreeing on the budget allocated for their contribution. Jan-Feb 2019: Finalize the curriculum for the practicum including learning outcomes, activities, and program schedule with oversight from design and business sector partners. Our goal is to build upon best practices in equity-centered design as successfully implemented in other cities. Also interview applications, and make the final selection for fellows. March-April 2019: Finalize budget allocation and fellowship work breakdown structure. May-July 2019: Final preparation for August boot camp and program start.

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (Feel free to share an organizational chart or visual description of your team). (500 characters)

The fellowship is a collaborative effort between three organizations. Impact Hub Austin: Fiscal Sponsor. Business Mentorship. Austin Center for Design (AC4D): Educational Partner. Creative Reaction Lab: Educational Partner. Support has also been provided by Austin's Chief Innovation Officer and Austin's Office of Innovation.

What aspects of the idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (500 characters)

We desire to cultivate an ongoing relationship with GHR Foundation and OpenIdeo given the nature of our work. We are open to discussing alternative funding structures if selected as a finalist.

In preparation for our Expert Feedback Phase: What are three unanswered questions or challenges that you could use support on in your project? These questions will be answered directly by experts matched specifically to your idea and needs.

1. What are some of the blind spots we may have in the way we are addressing the problem? 2. What is your advice regarding the best use of funds within our project budget? For example, should we have more fellows for a shorter duration? 3. How can we best foster collaboration between our fellows, city, investors, and collaborators? Each stakeholder has conflicting interests; therefore, we need help in knowing how to find common ground. Historically, the conflicting interests of community members and government has been an issue.

Final Updates (*Please do not complete until we reach the Improve Phase*): How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

In July 2018, we hosted a workshop to "prototype" the fellowship program. At the end of the event, we administered a survey to collect feedback from our participants. Based on the responses, we discovered the following: 1) the program theme should target affordability and workforce inclusion as it relates to gentrification, 2) a cross-sectoral approach is necessary to eliminate silo-ed efforts, and 3) fellows will require exposure to local businesses and decision-makers. Based on expert feedback, the fmain changes were made: 1) collaboration with a local urban planning consultant to map areas of that are being highly gentrified using ARCGIS, and 2) the fellows will go through structured coursework in Austin Center for Design’s one year program.

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

Current Impact: Each institution in our collaborative has had extensive impact in applying design to "wicked problems" like gentrification. There is tremendous opportunity to leverage innovation expertise to significantly improve equity in East Austin and all over the US. Current Impact: AC4D: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/nue4gh2vv2h3axn/AABKWuqgHSSDGhrITGEp7CLIa?dl=0&preview=AC4D_portfolio_book.pdf http://www.ac4d.com/2018/05/class-of-2018-graduation-showcase/ https://www.keyup.org/ Impact Hub Austin (Accelerator Business Portfolio) https://www.impacthubaustin.com/wfda/cohort https://www.impacthubaustin.com/aha/cohort-2017/ Creative Reaction Lab http://www.creativereactionlab.com/newsworthy/ http://www.creativereactionlab.com/leaders-for-community-action-equity/ http://www.creativereactionlab.com/community-design-apprenticeship-program/ http://www.creativereactionlab.com/design-to-better-our-community/ http://www.creativereactionlab.com/artwork-for-equity/

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Built With Humanity is a one-year design fellowship that invites Black and Latinx innovators to develop breakthrough solutions to sustainable urban design. We define sustainable urban design, as an approach that seeks to foster resilience in urban areas by optimizing social, economic, political, and social well being. The program is based on the equity-centered community design (ECCD) framework, a flexible system at the intersection of community development, design-based problem solving, and equitable outcomes. The theme for the first cohort is: “Solutions for Gentrification in Austin, Texas. Students will complete 1 year of studio and coursework at the Austin Center for Design + a practicum based on the ECCD framework. Fellows graduate with a certification in Interaction Design and Social Entrepreneurship in addition to receiving mentorship and financial support to launch their ventures. See the attached image and the “Built with Humanity Curriculum Overview” that has been attached to our proposal submission.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our primary beneficiaries will include African American and Hispanic families who have been or are at risk of displacement due to gentrification and lack of affordable housing in east Austin, Texas. We will assess displacement risk to target communities and neighborhoods most affected. (see attached map of the detailed areas we aim address in east Austin. A study by the University of Texas in 2017 found that in East Austin, a once predominantly low to moderate income African-American and Mexican-American neighborhood, saw a 442 percent increase of white residents between 2000 and 2010, while its African-American population dropped by 66 percent. According to the study, a bulk of the residents who moved away — more than half, according to UT survey results — did so because housing was no longer affordable. Source: http://bit.do/thosewhostayed

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Existing initiatives include: 1) the Anti-Displacement Task Force, a 17-member group of appointees launched by the city of Austin to combat the displacement of minorities, 2) People’s Plan, a group of six resolutions/draft ordinances that are aimed at creating solutions for displacement and gentrification, and 3) an initiative formed by the University of Texas School of Architecture to build affordable housing into alleys. Unfortunately, few initiatives are implemented and sustained and even fewer include meaningful and consistent collaboration with the communities who are being displaced. Built With Humanity seeks to turn Black and Latinx innovators into "equity designers" equipped with the skills, resources, and connections needed to develop effective solutions, while bridging healthy and holistic conversations with city planners and other relevant parties.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Early Adoption: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have begun to expand the pilot for early adoption.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Built With Humanity is a non-profit organization that empowers underserved communities to transform cities through equity-centered design and social entrepreneurship. The fellowship is the starting point for this larger organization. We aim to educate young people from underserved communities to be equity-designers for their communities in cities across the United States. Website (In Development): http://cms.built-with-humanity.webnode.com/ (it will eventually be: www.builtwithhumanity.org)

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • No, but we are a formal initiative through an accelerator, hub, or other entity.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

As a native Texan and African American, addressing homelessness and inequality in my state is a great passion of mine. The problem of gentrification further increases racial and social divides while disrupting tight-knit communities that are essential to the city. Thus, Built With Humanity was birthed out of a desire to bridge both sides, while inviting overlooked perspectives to the table in order to accelerate solutions.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace has been impacted by the racial history and segregation in Austin, now one of the fastest-gentrifying cities in the U.S. The city has a long history of inequality, with East Austin at the frontline. City officials deliberately drove African-Americans and Hispanic residents into the neighborhood as part of the city’s 1928 master plan. “East Austin was created as a reservation for the black and brown people — that’s what people called it,” said Daniel Llanes, a longtime East Austin resident and community activist. “But in the early '90s, the city council did a blanket rezoning of East Austin. When that happened, it accelerated gentrification here, because the properties that had been residential suddenly had the ability to be commercial, so the property owners pushed residents out and got commercial renters in because they could. Prosperity has also been impacted by these policies. Presently, the lack of affordable housing and low living wages effect local minority communities.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Partners include: 1) Austin Center for Design (AC4D): Will provide instruction on design and social entrepreneurship. 2) Creative Reaction Lab: Will provide instruction on implementing the equity-centered design framework (ECCD) within interventions. 3) Impact Hub: Will provide business mentorship to help fellows establish organizations at the end of the program. 4) Austin Office of Innovation: Will provide guidance on policy regulations as well as city and government support behind the fellows.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Austin is a hub for social innovation with many of the city’s entrepreneurs bent on building organizations that will change the world for the better. Austin is also home to the University of Texas, which is contributing knowledge and talent to the local impact investing market and beyond. Lastly, gentrification has recently become a galvanizing area of focus.

Geographic Focus

Built With Humanity will initially focus on the Austin, Texas area.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

Built With Humanity is a 12-month design fellowship program.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No
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Attachments (9)

Built with Humanity Curriculum Overview.pdf

Provides a detailed description of coursework that the fellows will complete

Letter of Support_Ted fellow 2018_Creative Reaction Lab - Built with Humanity Fellowship.pdf

This is letter of support from 2018 TED fellow Antoinette Caroll from the creative reaction lab providing support for being a partner developing the fellowship. The Creative Reaction Lab is also the pioneer of the Equity-Centered Community Design Framework which was named one of Fast Company's world changing ideas in 2018.

Impact Hub Letter of Support_Impact Hub Austin (1).pdf

Impact Hub Austin provides deep connection to social entrepreneurship in Austin as well as a network of business mentors and advisors that can support the creation of the fellow's initiatives and ventures.

Innovation Office support for Build with Humanity.pdf

Support and endorsement of the project was also provided by Austin's Chief Innovation Officer in the attached letter.

AC4D_portfolio_book.pdf

Austin Center for Design is a pioneer in rigorous design education focused on humanitarian issues in a local context. This is a portfolio of work from their students, are examples of the kind of work fellows will produce as they go through this impactful and powerful program.

53 comments

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Interesting project! We certainly are experiencing similiar challenges here in St. Paul/Minneapolis and are working on figuring out ways to develop community-driven solutions/opportunities to both housing and small business opportunities. I really like the fellowship model and the deeper investment in these individuals. I'm curious how you will connect them with policy makers and other folks in positions of power to impact policy and practices? Best of luck!

Photo of Brannon Veal
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Currently, are working with the City of Austin Office of Innovation to hopefully create a long-term partnership. The fellows could have a greater role in influencing urban policy and innovation within the city because they have been given access to decision makers the tools to do so. The absolute ideal would be if fellows we to be granted a short-term in an official position within city government to advocate on behalf of underserved communities.

Photo of Anthony Gleason
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I appreciate how you are approaching a very complex issue that involves so many stakeholders where only some maintain substantial financial (and other) power. From the outset I’m not sure whether you see a collaborative solution that involves developers and property owners who’ve decided to evict residents and lease to commercial interests – or whether your intent is to identify methods to dismantle those particular powerful interests. My initial take after reviewing this project is that the latter tends to be your preference, not sure. I respect your taking on such a heavy and consequential phenomenon!

Question #1

There doesn’t seem to be enough emphasis on identifying and disseminating supporting data, particularly hard numbers that define population growth / decline, demographic indicators, income, income sources, property tax structure, financial investment from outside developers, property value changes over time, infrastructure issues including transportation, how local government works, how policies and regulations are instituted, etc. In my opinion, these data should be an essential part of the fellows’ training in order to equip them with enough knowledge to defend their positions to any possible stakeholder: residents, city government, developers, property owners, etc. Particularly for recalcitrant stakeholders, the better informed your fellows are the more effective they can be. Utilizing GIS mapping as a store of information might be helpful in this regard.

Can you identify specific property owners who have evicted residents in favor of commercial leases? What about identifying the top real-estate developers who are purchasing land and transforming it from residential to other purposes or population targets. It might be helpful to map out stakeholders in East Austin to a detailed level (companies, names, property addresses, investment value, etc.).

There doesn't appear to be information about local businesses, particularly those businesses that have had a foothold in East Austin for a longer period of time. Can you identify sympathetic potential partners among the local business community? Among all stakeholder groups?

Language used in the grant, specifically “Dismantle Power Constructs”, could really turn off potential partners. Do you prefer to have all stakeholders at the discussion table? IMO could effect the most change. My reading of this project suggests in Phase 2, “community” only includes residents? Local businesses are also members of the community that can bring additional resources to solving local problems. Are developers considered a part of the community they are developing ? Should they be? Are property owners considered to be a part of the community? Including those that have already evicted residents and lease to commercial interests? I think it’s important that you address these questions within your own organization (maybe you already have).

Have you thought about developing metrics to determine which residents qualify for program inclusion and/or assistance?

What has caused previous solutions to not be substantially implemented? To what degree were local, resident voices ignored? Will the various causes remain for any additional solutions posed by this project?

What does success look like (for you) on a block by block level? Can you describe East Austin after a successful project implementation?

Question #2:

My take is that you’re leveraging fellows to uncover ideation from residents. Will fellows invite other stakeholders for ideation sessions? It's a high bar for fellows to achieve. Should different fellows have different foci ? Should each fellow choose different Subject Matter (tax structure, property investment, policy & government, research, data analysis, presentation, etc. ) ? Or are all fellows expected to gain the same body of knowledge? Will Fellows work as a Team or have the same responsibilities with collaboration? What is an ideal outcome for a Fellow?

(I've run out of space, will continue in next comment . . . )

Photo of Anthony Gleason
Team

Question #3:

An approach that doesn’t scare off certain stakeholders from the get-go would seem to foster better chances of collaboration. Identify benefits to each stakeholder group from various scenarios; likewise, identify risks (financial, reputational, social) for each stakeholder group from those same scenarios. Conduct a devil’s advocate review of these benefits & risks for each stakeholder; try to see the issues from each stakeholder’s perspective. Identify deal-breakers, even including language that turns away potential partners.

Create and practice talking points to address these benefits & risks for various stakeholders so that Built with Humanity is clear and as persuasive as possible. Attempt to build real partnerships with stakeholders (residents, property owners, developers, city government, commercial interests that are lease-holders) that are mutually beneficial. Attempt to identify sympathetic individuals within the most confrontational stakeholder groups to act as sound-boards, to assist progress, to advise or liaise with.


I hope this helps!

Tony Gleason

Photo of Brannon Veal
Team

Inquiry: I appreciate how you are approaching a very complex issue that involves so many stakeholders where only some maintain substantial financial (and other) power. From the outset I’m not sure whether you see a collaborative solution that involves developers and property owners who’ve decided to evict residents and lease to commercial interests – or whether your intent is to identify methods to dismantle those particular powerful interests. My initial take after reviewing this project is that the latter tends to be your preference, not sure. I respect your taking on such a heavy and consequential phenomenon!

Response: We view the problem of gentrification as a being the result of the larger issue of economic segregation. Therefore we aim to empower community members to find solutions that decrease economic segregation and inequity. Our specific aims within the broader problem of gentrification are to improve housing affordability and/or improve workforce development. We aim to collaborate with relevant stakeholders in order to gain insight to identify solutions that benefit the marginalized while acknowledging the benefits of economic growth. Our approach can be viewed as attempting to promote inclusive growth as opposed to exclusive growth which is the hallmark of gentrification.

Examples of existing ventures and innovations that have been accelerated/ incubated by Impact Hub Austin (One of the partnering organizations) are outlined later in my response and will be included in the final submission. These provide an general examples of the initiatives and ventures expected from the fellowship.

Inquiry: There doesn’t seem to be enough emphasis on identifying and disseminating supporting data, particularly hard numbers that define population growth / decline, demographic indicators, income, income sources, property tax structure, financial investment from outside developers, property value changes over time, infrastructure issues including transportation, how local government works, how policies and regulations are instituted, etc. In my opinion, these data should be an essential part of the fellows’ training in order to equip them with enough knowledge to defend their positions to any possible stakeholder: residents, city government, developers, property owners, etc. Particularly for recalcitrant stakeholders, the better informed your fellows are the more effective they can be. Utilizing GIS mapping as a store of information might be helpful in this regard.

Response: I am working with a local urban planning consultant to map areas of that are being highly gentrified using ARCGIS. The fellowship target area for user research and innovation will be targeting these vulnerable areas. There is a study being completed by the City of Austin that analyzes displacement risk and the most vulnerable areas in east Austin. ***I will add this data to my final proposal submission.***

Maps Generated Specifically for research for the project
http://atxmaps.org/

Report from the Austin Anti-displacement task force:
Map of detailed study of displacement risk and most vulnerable communities http://www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=299918
http://www.austintexas.gov/page/anti-displacement-task-force


In addition. The fellowship has been refined slightly in that the fellows will go through structured coursework in Austin Center for Design’s one year program. There also will be special topics seminar that focuses the fellow’s effort on equity, community engagement, and business leadership within the community. Community learning and engagement will be centered on engaging local government, local business and investors, media, and tech and product development talent. See the table of collaboration (here) The supporting information you listed will be provided within each phase of the seminar course.

Photo of Brannon Veal
Team

Inquiry: Can you identify specific property owners who have evicted residents in favor of commercial leases? What about identifying the top real-estate developers who are purchasing land and transforming it from residential to other purposes or population targets. It might be helpful to map out stakeholders in East Austin to a detailed level (companies, names, property addresses, investment value, etc.).There doesn't appear to be information about local businesses, particularly those businesses that have had a foothold in East Austin for a longer period of time. Can you identify sympathetic potential partners among the local business community? Among all stakeholder groups?

Response: In addition to our network of partners, we have identified a list of the remaining small businesses in the east austin Area that have are native to the East Austin area. We also aim to engage developers as well as a part of the community engagement strategy in the seminar course. This will be outlined in our final proposal in details. Details on local land development and the history of development will be included in the needs assessment portion of our proposal updates.

Inquiry: Language used in the grant, specifically “Dismantle Power Constructs”, could really turn off potential partners. Do you prefer to have all stakeholders at the discussion table? IMO could effect the most change. My reading of this project suggests in Phase 2, “community” only includes residents? Local businesses are also members of the community that can bring additional resources to solving local problems. Are developers considered a part of the community they are developing ? Should they be? Are property owners considered to be a part of the community? Including those that have already evicted residents and lease to commercial interests? I think it’s important that you address these questions within your own organization (maybe you already have).

Response: We aim to have a collaborative approach that includes insights from key stakeholders including developers (to be outlined in more detail in our final submission). We also aim to take a data-driven approach to identify the most marginalized community members that are at risk of being displaced or have already experienced displacement.

Photo of Brannon Veal
Team

INQUIRY: Have you thought about developing metrics to determine which residents qualify for program inclusion and/or assistance?

Response: Overall the target demographics that we seek to effect will be community members in the areas that have the highest susceptibility to displacement and other related effects such as homelessness and economic instability. Detailed metrics and criteria will be included in our final proposal and will be based on work completed by the Anti-displacement task force.

http://www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=299918

Also, Austin’s equity office is developing an “equity tool” to measure equity across several categories in the city. The data from this tools will be used to further refine inclusion criteria for our target demographic that we will be seeking to serve through our solutions. In terms of recruitment of fellowship participants, there will be strong emphasis on recruiting candidates that have a history of community engagement in east Austin and living expertise with respect to gentrification. We are also looking for committed candidates that have the ability and commitment to complete the entire fellowship.

Inquiry: What has caused previous solutions to not be substantially implemented? To what degree were local, resident voices ignored? Will the various causes remain for any additional solutions posed by this project?

Response: A new city of Austin audit found that out of the 541 recommendations and resolutions to tackle gentrification and displacement, only 56 would make a direct impact and are actually implemented.The report measures the real world effects of city actions from 2000 to 2017 and found that most items never made a dent in the issue. In addition, Community activists say only having 10 percent of ideas turn into reality represents all talk and no action.For community activist Fred McGhee, it's a symptom of larger forces. "Money, politics, power, a let them eat cake mindset in our elected officials” is his stated reason for all talk and no action. Since 2010 there have been over 10 gentrification tasks forces launched by the city to no avail. The reason why policy-based approaches are so divisive are because they: 1.) do little to address the inherent economic segregation that leads to gentrification and displacement, 2.) gentrification necessarily erodes local political political power of underserved communities through the mechanism of displacement (fewer low-income residents, less power), which leads to less accountability for change and 3) the desire for economic development is seen as an absolute good. Therefore, our approach is to develop solutions that are co-created and owned by residents and natives of east Austin. We aim to facilitate sustainable and inclusive growth that addresses underlying issues of economic exclusion and segregation.

Inquiry: What does success look like (for you) on a block by block level? Can you describe East Austin after a successful project implementation?

Response: We see gentrification as an aspect of the larger problem of economic segregation. Therefore, we aim to focus our efforts on two critical issues: Affordability and Workforce Inclusion. Our partner Impact Hub has already accelerated a number of high quality ventures that provide market viable solutions in these areas.

https://www.impacthubaustin.com/wfda/cohort
https://www.impacthubaustin.com/aha/cohort-2017/

Our vision of Success:

Our work will be a continuation of the work presented at the links above. These provide a good sense of the outcomes that we aim to achieve. What that looks like in east Austin: 1.) increasing the incomes of the most vulnerable populations through workforce development and/or 2.) increase overall affordability in the areas that are at the most risk.

Photo of Brannon Veal
Team

Inquiry(Question #2): My take is that you’re leveraging fellows to uncover ideation from residents. Will fellows invite other stakeholders for ideation sessions? It's a high bar for fellows to achieve. Should different fellows have different foci ? Should each fellow choose different Subject Matter (tax structure, property investment, policy & government, research, data analysis, presentation, etc. ) ? Or are all fellows expected to gain the same body of knowledge? Will Fellows work as a Team or have the same responsibilities with collaboration? What is an ideal outcome for a Fellow?



Response: Overall, I have received agreement from the Austin Center for Design that all 18 members of their 2019 cohort will be focused on finding solutions to gentrification in east Austin. (there will be 4 fellows + 14 traditional students from the school that are focusing their project work on finding breakthrough solutions to this issue in Austin). It is important to note that one of the updates made was that they fellows will complete a 1 year course at the Austin Center for Design and will have a special topics seminar on the ECCD framework and actually engage diverse stakeholders in the community. The teams will be formed in pairs and be provided access and exposure to each element of the problem and have an opportunity to deep dive on their particular area of focus during the last three month term of the fellowship. Overall the ideal outcomes for each fellow is that they will 1.) receive a Certificate in Interaction Design and Social Entrepreneurship from the Austin Center for Design which will empower them with skills to build a career in design and innovation 2.) They will be lead the development of initiatives and ventures that have a measurable impact on affordability and displacement in their community, 3.) they will have built a network of community institutions, partners, and businesses to continue their leadership on behalf of their community.

Inquiry (Question #3): An approach that doesn’t scare off certain stakeholders from the get-go would seem to foster better chances of collaboration. Identify benefits to each stakeholder group from various scenarios; likewise, identify risks (financial, reputational, social) for each stakeholder group from those same scenarios. Conduct a devil’s advocate review of these benefits & risks for each stakeholder; try to see the issues from each stakeholder’s perspective. Identify deal-breakers, even including language that turns away potential partners.

Response: Great idea! I am incorporating this into the special topics seminar as a part of our curriculum. Our inclination will be for solutions that provide for inclusive growth instead of an “Anti-growth” strategy. This approach requires that the interests of various stakeholders be considered and understood.

Inquiry (Q3): Create and practice talking points to address these benefits & risks for various stakeholders so that Built with Humanity is clear and as persuasive as possible. Attempt to build real partnerships with stakeholders (residents, property owners, developers, city government, commercial interests that are lease-holders) that are mutually beneficial. Attempt to identify sympathetic individuals within the most confrontational stakeholder groups to act as sound-boards, to assist progress, to advise or liaise with.

Response: I think that this concept could be captured using game theory to understand and weight interests of the various stakeholders. Uncovering these interests (Benefits & Risks) will be apart of the pre-planning phases as will as the user research phase of the design process. I will present this information within our final proposal / submission. Thanks!

Photo of Anubha Sharma
Team

While displacement and a widened geographical gap between the rich and the poor has become a worldwide problem, coexistence can help bridge many gaps as we have found in our own project which is successful only because rich and poor still live in the same geography in Mumbai making interaction and hence redistribution of resources a possibility. It was interesting reading about your project.

Photo of Brannon Veal
Team

Thank You Anubha. Coexistence is key. I believe that both rich and poor must be willing to dignify each other and live together. One fundamental element that we seek to bring as a part of the fellowship is understanding the undermining oppressive systems is about restoring the humanity of BOTH the oppressing and oppressed class, both rich and poor. I look into some of the things happening in Mumbai. Thank you for your insight.

Photo of Christina Schwanke
Team

Hello Brannon Veal 

Can we connect on Linkedin? I volunteer time to a gang outreach nonprofit in West Los Angeles and one of the passion of the the Executive Director is gentrification. I believe you two could benefit from a conversation and if you are up for it I would like to connect you.

Christina

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Hello Christina, It would be great to connect with you via linkedin. A link to my profile is here: www.linkedin.com/in/brannonveal. I definitely would love the opportunity to speak with him. We are eventually look to expand the fellowship to the many other cities that are facing similar issues (LA being one of them). Thank You!

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Brannon Veal I added you! Keep me posted on your progress. Reno, NV (where I am) is facing a similar situation. I am interested in what you come up with. Let me know if you would like to set up a call in the next few weeks.

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Thanks Christina. The comments section should capture feedback to everyone can opine. Please feel free to post any ideas and feedback you have here on the site. Although I will be traveling during next few weeks I will definitely reach out via linkedin.

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Brannon,
One of the reason Rural Synergy Foundation was created was to address the changing economic landscape. In my limited opinion of gentrification related problems the original local population of the urban area, much like the rural population, gets left behind with the changes. In Reno one of things I believe would help is developing the skills of the original population to fit the communities new needs. I think this would have a two sided affect...1. companies would bring in less outsiders to fill jobs. 2. locals populations would be more prepared to grow into the changing landscape. One of the programs I think does a good job with this is Homeboy Industries. They have a relationship with LA Trade Tech. Again this is just my view I know there are so many ways to help this issue.
Christina

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Hi Brannon ,

Its a very interesting project you are working on and this has become a problem in mostly all urban cities not only in US but also worldwide. To tackle these kind of issues in the communities that can have an impact is commendable. I think displacement happens due to many other reasons not only because of discrimination , the urban cities areas has the tendency of rising at sky rocket prices due to booming real estates industries and businesses and so do the landlords dreams gears up with greediness with the unrealistic market value and hike the rental by taking advantage of market value or try to evict the renter , well its quite debatable to really say who to blame the market value , landlord or government policies . I think there should be new policy change and reforms made for social injustice especially for those who have been living in the communities for long period of time , if policies could be amended probably with an eviction notice for atleast 3-5 years with an advance notice period for those people living more than 10+ years then things might change no matter its black , brown , colored or white..

I wish you all the best and your project idea does a great job for displaced communities. thanks

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Thank You Joy.

I definitely agree with the fact that gentrification has many elements, not just racial discrimination. The basic free market forces that cause gentrification and its subsequent effects such as displacement, homelessness, and affordability cannot be blamed on one particular group. I believe the we have to look broader and understand gentrification as apart of the larger problem of economic segregation. Economic segregation is really and the heart of gentrification and has systemic links to a discriminatory housing policies passed in the 1920s which caused divestment in certain urban communities and the avoidance of investment in many communities that were "redlined" under these policies. Many of these areas were deemed "negro" districts for black and brown people. The systemic effects of this can be seen in cities across the United States. For example, many people view the water crisis in Flint, Michigan as an engineering mistake that polluted the water supply. If you look at the "redlined" maps of the area, Flint was one of the areas traditionally occupied by African Americans and other minorities. Much of the structural segregation lead to divestment which then led to little to no investment in infrastructure. So you have a historically racist and governmentally enforced policy that is still having a disproportionate effect on minority communities. A book was recently released that provides a great explanation. Its called The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein. (https://www.amazon.com/Color-Law-Forgotten-Government-Segregated/dp/1631492853). One of the most overlooked aspect of social justice in the African American and Latinx community was the structural segregation of our cities. There are local policy revisions being attempted, however many people in the area believe it does not do enough to protect poor and minority community members. My personal view is that policies that are protective instead of proactive do very little to overcome the broader issue of economic segregation. The core philosophy behind the fellowship is to empower community members with design education and local businesses to bridge the gap caused by this segregation.

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Hi Brandon Veal ,

Thank you for sharing these wonderful points , I agree historical policy made errors has consequences to deal with the current crisis by empowering the community . In my opinion it is also important to develop closer working relationships with local authorities including the communities of both displaced and resident communities for an effective outcome. As rapid urbanization of this modern world are unstoppable and people of middle-low income group are mostly affected by the process of urbanization. I wish you and your team all the best in your efforts to make an impact to improve the living conditions of displaced communities for peace and prosperity. thanks

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Agreed. I have an meeting with city counsel next month. Do you happen to have any suggestions?

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Hi Brannon ,

Great to hear from you once again. Please do excuse me in advance as I amn't an expert in this area but would be glad to share my generic views . After reading your project idea I trust you got a deeper understanding to this complex issue of gentrification. I believe a contextually based research are necessary to focus into different communities, neighborhoods, income inequality ratio to understand several parameters of the problems.

The first and foremost thing I think is to address on core issues with authorities together with the affected populations more like a direct brain storming sessions . I think to effectively deal with a fire of urbanization is to create more opportunities for the minorities, low income groups to resettle/ reintegrate. This is possible with new reforms by the state by raising budgets grants/low interest loans for entrepeurships /vocational skills / scholarships, support of incubation hubs for minorities /poor communities affected by gentrification. It may help to create employment generation in the community and further prevent displacements.

Second- Reforms on rental regulations for selective urbanized areas for residential purposes for long time residents living for more than 10+ years with an advance eviction notice period from 2- 4yrs, 4 years probably for Old age groups of citizens over 60+ yrs with a conditional rental hike of 1% every year.

Third- The city authorities could plan to work out on a new scheme to build a Special Public Housing Zone to build & supply affordable public housing /low cost housing in nearby areas not too far from the city, The city administration board will only have the right to sell these apartments/houses only once at an affordable prices to the buyers from poor/middle class communities with a condition of no resale of the property / this property cannot to sold or rented out to any other third party legally for a lifetime until the first buyer & owner’s death and then only the ownership deed can be transferred to the next assigned nominee with the same regulations.

Another option could be proposed for the city administration to rent public housing at an affordable prices with land tenure conditions for short/long term leases to Individual /families . This probably may help the poor and displaced communities with no effect of gentrification. Rapid urbanization with rapid public housing schemes could possibly help gentrifying neighborhoods with an affordable housing.

A clear set of legal guidelines, protection and assistance availability for displaced communities and based on the existing guidelines of housing regulations for assessment and further suggest for reforms to bridge the gaps to avoid exploitation by landlords with unreasonable rental hikes. Gratification is a complicated issue and it requires more pathbreaking ways . thanks

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These are great ideas. Policy is notoriously hard to change due to all of the stakeholders involved. I believe that exploring potential for public / private partnerships at the outset would be a great way to work with policy makers on existing initiatives.

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Hi Brannon Veal
I really like this idea! Congrats on the idea being shortlisted in the challenge.
In last year's Higher Ed Challenge on the OpenIDEO platform there was a Winning Idea from Austin - "PelotonU - College Built For Non Traditional Students."
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/future-of-highered/top-ideas/college-built-for-non-traditional-students
It is a very interesting model that supports non traditional students on their path to a college degree. Are you famliar with the program? Maybe another program source for fellow applicants?

Looking forward to watching your project develop!

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Thanks! I am familiar with the program. Also, due to PelotonU’s emphasis on affordability, I agree that it could be a great organization to recruit our fellows from. I will attempt to reach out to them.

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Also, interesting note. They went through the same accelerator that we are looking to send our fellows through. Impact Hub Austin's Workforce Development Accelerator.

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Greetings!  You certainly have identified an issue that many communities are struggling with.   Thank you for your efforts that contribute to the broader conversation.   Regarding your feedback questions:  1) "What are some of the blind spots" - you mention that you want to bring opportunity to low income minorities in East Austin, foster minority-led business creation and support 100 local jobs from the businesses you create.   This is a very exciting and tangible goal, but in my experience, the creation of a business is a very complex undertaking which requires expert guidance at the outset if one hopes for sustainability.   I don't see any mention in the proposal about where the expertise for business creation will come from.   Do you have a nonprofit partner that has a proven track record in assisting minority entrepreneurs? I think it would be important for you to include this information in your proposal.   Also,  I would suggest that you be more specific about the meaning of "sustainable urban design".   I have found that this phrase means different things to different people, so it would be important to know exactly what you envision.   Question #2 "is this the best use of the funds within the budget" - I'm actually wondering if the budget for the Fellows stipends shouldn't be larger, but its really your call based on your vision.   Question #3 "how can we best foster collaboration" - identify at least one component of your initiative where the fellows, city, investors and collaborators can come together on accomplishing a goal.   Possibly that could be around actual business creation...are there barriers to business creation that could be easily addressed if they were more widely known and discussed?  can a shared goal be around ways to leverage entrepreneurial assets, etc.?   Can you maintain culture and community in new and exciting ways?   Thank you for your work on this important topic!

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Thank You Carolyn for your feedback.

With respect to question 1. We are partnering with Impact Hub Austin for business advisers. The plan is to recruit advisers from the two local accelerators that have bred some fantastic local businesses that work on affordable housing and Workforce development. I will definitely include this in the final proposal. They have also agreed to let the fellows apply to the accelerator after the fellowship and upon launch of their business. Due to their national and international presence in cities, the ideal goal is to scale the fellowship to other impact hub locations in key cities experiencing the same problem such as San Francisco or Boston.

Impact Hub Workforce Development Accelerator: (https://www.impacthubaustin.com/wfda/about/)

Impact Hub Affordable Housing Accelerator
https://www.impacthubaustin.com/accelerator/affordability/

I will definitely be more specific when it comes to defining sustainable design and what that means in terms of the long-term mission of Built with Humanity. We have defined key areas where substantial inequity exists in cities across the United States and world.

Question 2: I have since got agreement from the Austin Center for design for the fellows to go through their year long design program focused on design and social entrepreneurship with a humanitarian focus. Each fellow will be awarded a Certificate in Interaction Design and Social Entrepreneurship. We will host a special topics sessions throughout the fellowship that actively engages the fellows in collaborative design exercises with community, city government, and local businesses. This will allow us to lower our admin costs and put more funds directly toward educating our fellows and engaging the community.



Question 3: Thanks for the feedback here. I will definitely include requests for this kind of collaboration when I talk to the city representatives. I have a meeting with City council on August 9th. Any other ideas on potential "asks" in terms of support from local government would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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Hi Brannon,
Tackling gentrification in cities is a huge challenge, and it seems like you've come up with a creative, design-centered way of addressing this problem in Austin. One question I have for you is, after this 12-month fellow program ends, will you provide additional support or follow-up for the organizations that are formed at the end of the program? I hope this project is able to become part of the solution to the problem in Austin and elsewhere!

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We hope that as more fellows graduate from our program that we continue to build a community of practice centered around equity-centered design and entrepreneurship. This means that we will actively build a core group of advisors that can refine our curriculum, design practice, and entrepreneurial approach while providing ongoing support to our ventures. As more fellows complete our program, we hope to continuously build a peer support community in which alumni and current fellows can learn from one another. Another function of the community of practice will be to continuously identify and share lessons learned and formulate best practices that can help us better serve and advise our ventures.

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Love this idea, and would be very interested to see the positive impact it can make in a city grappling with gentrification. What is the criteria for recruiting fellows? During the "Organization Formation and Fundraising" phase, you mention that organizations formed at the conclusion of the program will receive grants to continue their work -- how are these organizations formed? Very excited to hear more about this much-needed work!

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Hello Melinda,

Thank you for your comment. Eligibility criteria for the fellows will include full-time or part-time enrollment in a local college or university with a relevant major (e.g., urban planning, sustainable development, business administration), identification as Black or Latina/o, and personal experience with the topic, as assessed through a required essay and personal interviews. As the criteria are being finalized, I welcome any additional thoughts to this point.

To answer your second question, students will have the option to form a nonprofit or for-profit organization at the end of the fellowship based on their work. This effort will supported by business advisors we recruit for the program.

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Brannon Veal great idea indeed! I like how fellows not only learn design thinking skills while tackling issues in their communities, thus gaining agencies and developing solutions that can have impact. I had a question similar to Melinda Kramer while reading your post. It's great to see also the community involved in the process. Yet, I wonder if you had considered having some fellows who might not have a college or university degree but could still be fellows and learn new skills, and possibly also have impact on their community.
I also wonder how many hours this will require from participants.
I found this article on a Harvard course which is quite relevant to your project: http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/harvard-class-takes-unusual-approach-designing-solutions-segregation-housing-st-louis#stream/0
I am curious to know what kind of prototype you've done and what you learnt from them and how this led you to refine your original idea. Thanks! Looking forward to seeing your idea evolve.

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To answer your first question: the concept for Built With Humanity is very similar to the one you referenced; however, we also plan on recruiting 1-2 fellows from the communities being affected. The blending of professionally trained designers, planners, and policymakers with people who have experiential knowledge of the problem will generate more effective and practical solutions.

To answer your second question: the original idea is an outgrowth of a project I participated in a few summers back with a design bootcamp hosted through the Austin Center for Design. Over the course of a weekend, we interviewed residents in a highly gentrified community. Generally speaking, policy makers usually look at the macro level problems of economics, construction, and design, and disregard the more nuanced aspects of gentrification. For example, during my experience in the bootcamp, it became even more apparent that the displacement of people also meant the displacement of culture and heritage embedded within a community. We want to be able to innovate with these nuances and overlooked aspects in mind.

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Brannon Veal wonderful idea! I would also encourage you to reach out to folks in the local architecture community. See https://www.aiaaustin.org/committee/latinos-architecture for professionals to connect to.

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Thanks Gwen! I have reached out to them and invited them to our prototyping workshop. I hope to engage with them on a regular basis for recruitment and advice.

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Hi Brannon Veal Great to have you in the Challenge! Two quick questions, can you share a little bit about the team that's going to be running this project? Also I'm excited to check out our UX Map but for some reason it's not loading for me, would you mind re-send the link in the comments?

Looking forward to learning more!

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Hello Ashley,

Here is another link to the UX map: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1x93PH7ZeBysI8kNhQXnyGsN_IiBNPszR/view?usp=sharing. Please let me know if it works for you.

I’m in the process of building a team of collaborators and making good progress so far! Currently, I am working on the idea alongside Lesa Walker and Erin Rainosek, who co-lead the OpenIdeo Austin Chapter, as well as a local data science team, who is helping us formulate a more detailed assessment for displacement risk in the area. I also recently connected with the founder of Impact Hub Austin to garner support for securing co-working and meeting space for the fellows during the program, with hopes of forming a long-term partnership.

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Thanks Brannon Veal for the update, sounds like you are making some great progress!

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Our project deals with displacement and "reverse gentrification" in a neighborhood devasted by a natural disaster, but not given the resources to recover. In a study published by HHS (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4752119/) states that "New Orleans’ residents were unequally vulnerable to disaster-driven mobility long before Hurricane Katrina ever formed. Socially vulnerable census tracts had higher scores on measures of socioeconomic disadvantage (e.g., percentages of African American residents, poor households, service sector employees, unemployed, women, children under age 5 or women in the labor force) and housing disadvantage (percentage of high density housing units, high housing unit density and renters) (Finch et al., 2010)." I would be interested in your ideas to combat such issues.

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As a student in sustainability science, I view reverse gentrification as a negative and reinforced feedback loop. In fact, the poor are at a greater risk of being poorer as a result of oppressive systems that reinforce this negative trend. When faced with a natural disaster, the inclination of most cities is to automatically rebuild what was destroyed, usually in the same way it was previously built. However, from a systems perspective, this is not the best approach.

For example, when a bone breaks, it doesn’t restore itself to the way it was; it grows back stronger. Why? The greatest probability of a future break in the bone is where it was broken the first time. Biological and evolutionary intelligence! Similarly, it would be more efficient if cities focused their efforts on strengthening recovery efforts in marginalized and underserved communities. Disruption in systemic response via displacement and recovery resources is key here.

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Hi Brannon,

I love what you are doing. If interested I would like to introduce you to one of our speakers for Go Love Now. He is the city commissioner for the Dove Springs area and works to make sure their is affordable housing for his community. Keep being amazing!!!

With Love and Gratitude,

Scott

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Brannon Veal Fantastic idea. Gentrification is a huge challenge to tackle. I hope you learn a lot from this project, and if all goes well, come to Jersey City. New City Kids is serving youth whose families are dealing with the effects of gentrification on a daily bases.

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Hello Gabriel,

Thank you for your feedback. Gentrification is a major challenge across the nation, and one of my goals is to apply what we learn during the program to other cities like Jersey City. You're doing great work with New City Kids! I hope we can connect in the future.

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Great! Let me know next time you're in the NYC area. Would enjoy showing you around our city.

Photo of Gabriel Stiritz
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Great! Let me know next time you're in the NYC area. Would enjoy showing you around our city.

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Those displaced by gentrification in the Austin neighborhoods are victims of a social injustice that demands remediation. Great project idea!

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Thanks Jerry!

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Brannon Veal - It's great to have a submission from an OpenIDEO Austin Chapter member for this Challenge. You bring lots of experience and an innovative approach to tackle this critical issue in our city. Exciting!

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Thank you! Excited to be apart of the challenge.

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I second Lesa's comment, Brannon! Your submission brings a unique and much needed approach to solving gentrification here in Austin. Job well done!

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Thanks Erin!