Bree Jones’ work with Parity Homes offers a blueprint for how real estate developers around the country can revitalize long-neglected and segregated neighborhoods without displacing their current residents. That vision has earned her coverage and acclaim from such entities as TED, in whose TED Fellows program she recently participated.
But, as she explained in a recently published TED Talk she delivered in Vancouver, British Columbia, that vision fell on the deaf ears of investors she pitched after quitting a Wall Street job and moving to Baltimore, “the city that birthed redlining.”
“My first inclination was to meet with investors to raise funds for my idea, and I was literally laughed out of the room,” she said. “They said that my idea was impossible and that we would build homes that would sit empty for lack of demand. But I knew, in my heart of hearts, that this wasn’t true.”
The West Baltimore-HQed Parity Homes thrived in spite of that rejection, with Jones saying that the nonprofit startup has placed 44 future homeowners in abandoned properties that Parity Homes acquires and rehabs by the block. The aim is to create affordable homeownership opportunities in a predominantly Black and segregated part of the city where historical disinvestment and racist economic policies have created a vacancy crisis.
As evidence of the demand that investors said didn’t exist, Jones noted that Parity Homes has a waitlist of more than 100 individuals. Watch her explain more about the history of her nonprofit and its model to, as she described it, “do development without displacement:”-30-