SPARCC was designed to explore the ways we can change the systems that currently shape the built environment – systems of policy-making, investment, and power which have produced and continue to exacerbate race- and place-based disparities in health risks and climate vulnerability. SPARCC seeks to boost the ability of local leaders to dramatically alter these patterns so that health, resilience, and prosperity is shared by all.
Over the past 2 years, as the six SPARCC sites worked together to share challenges and solutions in their work to create more equitable policy, practice, and investment, what became clear is that, despite their unique dynamics, the sites share a common backdrop to all their work: displacement pressure. In some of the SPARCC sites, displacement pressures are manifesting as rising and overheated housing markets that are forcing low-income communities of color out of their neighborhoods. In other sites, extreme disinvestment is the driver of displacement, prompting residents to leave rather than risk ongoing exposure to health and safety hazards and lack of economic opportunity. Overall, investments that are aiming to build regional health and resilience – transit-oriented, mixed-use development, pedestrian- and bike-friendly greenways – are compounding the uneven patterns of public and private development and investment that have systematically benefitted some while burdening others.
On December 4, 2018, we convened more than 350 professionals, advocates, practioners, policy-makers, researchers, and investors for Investment Without Displacement. The day-long convening explored strategies that can help cities and regions around the country achieve equitable, inclusive growth informed by the voices, needs, and interests of those communities most threatened by growing displacement pressures. Attendees left equipped with ideas they can implement, and a network of peers they can call on when the going gets tough.
SPARCC is engaging in additional field-building on this body of work through its partnerships with the Urban Displacement Project and Tiffany Manuel, of Enterprise Community Partners, and Race Forward. These partnerships are aimed at building nuance into the national narrative on displacement, strengthening data-informed approaches to decision-making, and developing powerful messages that can mobilize action in support of anti-displacement policy and practice.
It will take a lot more than bold words to create a new paradigm of development where displacement is no longer a reality. We know this. During Investment Without Displacement, SPARCC unveiled its We Believe statement. While the statement is a series of words, our pledge is to actively embody the words in all of the work we do, who we do the work with, and how we do the work. We invited all participants to pledge with us.