One of the richest people in America wants to rebuild its inner cities.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has joined an effort to support a fleet of urban redevelopment projects in inner-cities across the country. Led by an Atlanta-based non profit called Purpose Built Communities, the aim is to fund “holistic community revitalization” projects that focuses on providing housing, neighborhood amenities, educational opportunities, jobs, and commercial investments.
As USA Today recently reported, Buffett was recruited to the effort by Atlanta housing developer Tom Cousins, who also recruited former hedge fund manager Julian Robertson.
“What sets these apart from other urban redevelopment schemes — and what prompted Buffett and Robertson to join forces with Cousins — is the scope of work involved. New apartments replacing crime-riddled public housing projects are just the beginning. It's the charter schools, parks, community service centers, health care facilities, recreation programs and places to work and shop that the big-money guys are betting on to usher in meaningful, long-term change.”
The first phase of a Purpose Built Community has just finished in Indianapolis, and is one of 13 projects already underway in cities that include Birmingham, Galveston, Omaha, and Charlotte. The approach is a counter to the unfortunate history of government-built housing projects that often alienated communities and segregated lower-income residents from jobs and other urban amenities.
Buffett’s big name and track record of savvy investments could spur others to back the idea, or at least convince some of his cohorts among the super-rich to contribute to efforts that address the complexities behind the nation’s poverty.