As part of the GOP’s tax overhaul plan, President Donald Trump and Republicans snuck in a measure that will accelerate the gentrification of poor African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods.
In recent months, governors across the nation have been designating so-called Opportunity Zones in their states. Gov. Rick Scott named 427 communities in Florida, including 68 in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties.
Opportunity Zones are poverty-stricken areas where rich people can invest their money to avoid paying taxes.
In Miami, these zones include Miami Gardens, Opa-locka, Brownsville, Allapattah, Liberty City, Little Haiti, and Overtown.
Basically, the filthy rich can invest in real-estate or business development projects in these areas, and if they don’t sell in five to seven years, they get a tax break of 10 to 15 percent. If they hold on for an entire decade, they pay zero taxes on their capital gains.
Republicans, investors, developers, and fund managers claim the tax breaks mean more projects in poor neighborhoods. But they really are nothing more than a scheme to force black and brown people out of their homes. Developers will buy cheap land; put up market-rate apartments, offices, and stores; and then reap the benefits of the tax breaks.
The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department did not add rules requiring developers and investors to hire neighborhood people, award contracts to minority firms, or provide affordable housing. In designating areas as Opportunity Zones, neither did Scott.
Local black politicians tell me they support Opportunity Zones. They believe the program will attract new businesses. They aren’t interested in enacting policies that help minority businesses get a piece of the action. They believe new businesses will increase property values, which will benefit homeowners. However, when property values go up, taxes and costs also rise. Then longtime residents have to move out.
Opportunity Zones will just enrich developers and investors with no commitment to the community. It can take up to ten years for a project to get permitted and built, so they can cash out by the time they do the ribbon-cutting. Meanwhile, all the black and brown people will be forced to find new homes. That’s some hard-core Trumpism.