What Does Sustainable Community Development Look Like?

Posted on May 24, 2017

Vacant houses and deserted blocks. High unemployment and crime. Food deserts. Few consumer options for necessities like fresh produce and even clothing.

This is what a forgotten community looks like.

Low-income, blighted communities are often ignored by local government and the private housing market. Artificial boosts to the community often fail without economic viability, and entire communities deteriorate over decades. Homes sit in disrepair and resources exit the community, leaving residents with few options for safe, stable housing and opportunity.

This landscape is far too common – present in nearly every urban community. Blocks, neighborhoods, and entire sectors of a city are disregarded. The cycle becomes systemic; breaking it requires a multi-faceted solution.

So, what does sustainable economic investment in a community like this look like? Is it even possible?

Meet The Jubilee Project.

At its core, The Jubilee Project works to bring restoration to communities through sustainable economic development. Through partnership with local churches, The Jubilee Project invests in dilapidated homes, trains unemployed individuals, sells the home to a family in need, and reinvests the proceeds of the sale back into another home. In the process, Jubilee empowers individuals and fosters supportive community, all with a transformative downstream impact.

It sounds too good to be true. But, it’s not. It’s what happens when a community bands to together to create tailored, innovative, and long-term solutions.

Here’s How It Works

Reverend and Executive Director Thomas Hargis pooled his experience in construction, ministry, workforce development, and the criminal justice system to pilot a model of community development with economic viability. The Jubilee Project was born.

The church uses its resources to buy a run-down home in a blighted community. In partnership with the neighborhood and community, the church renovates the home, increasing its value and the value of the area. In the process, the church hires those deemed “un-hirable” – individuals with few marketable hard skills and many times, a criminal record or addiction – and uses the renovation of the home as a training ground for under- and unemployed individuals.

As the house is being restored, workers are regaining dignity as they have access to training and on-the-job experience.

The church identifies a family trapped in the high-cost rent cycle and in need of a home. The family learns homeownership and maintenance, financial management, and life skills as they invest in the restoration of their home. The church sells the home to the family – interest-free – and reinvests the proceeds into another run-down home.

And the cycle begins again.

The cycle of investment in homes and families results in complete neighborhood revitalization beyond just buildings and blocks.

A Comprehensive Approach

Sensitive to the needs of a community, The Jubilee Project listens first. Whether it’s an urban farm to provide fresh produce or a thrift store to bring job training and affordable clothing to community residents, Jubilee works to build revenue-generating programs that ultimately serve residents, employees, and consumers.

Currently in Cincinnati, The Jubilee Project has caught the attention of the city, spurring community development and investment in some of Cincinnati’s hardest hit areas.

With an impactful, innovative approach, The Jubilee Project is tapping into the power of community, unleashing the potential of individuals to use their gifts and talents, and helping to transform a whole city from the inside out.

The Jubilee Project doesn’t just build houses; they build community.

The Jubilee Project is a S+ Catalyst. To learn more, visit their Catalyst profile.