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To address the racial wealth gap, build community wealth

Centering community and place Demanding racial equity

Sarah McKinley, who directs The Democracy Collaborative's community wealth building work, addressed how community wealth building strategies can address racial inequality and economic inequity at the 2021 Housing Washington affordable housing conference.

"A thriving local economy requires local ownership so that the economic advantages of the wealth created from those productive assets are spread broadly and shared by those who create that wealth in the first place," McKinley says. "These assets, such as land housing, enterprises, labor, finance and so forth create wealth beyond just income. As you know too well in the work that you do, to truly address the growing wealth inequality that we are seeing in our communities and in our countries and in particular the racial wealth gap, we must build wealth in our communities and not just individual or family wealth.

"So to change this requires us to think differently about asset ownership and particularly how conventional efforts to increase individual and family asset ownership intersect with new approaches around community and collective ownership of assets in place. Individual ownership forms have frankly proven insufficient in our current economic system and particularly in this moment of crisis."

McKinley concludes by adding, "If we want these new forms of collective ownership that we all should be participating in to be where we're headed in the future, we need to repair the damage of the extractive economy that has benefited some at the expense of a vast majority of—and those people are mainly black and brown people. ... I think we need to be explicit in thinking about that as we move forward to a new way of sharing our wealth and living together."

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