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Bree Jones

Parity Baltimore Incorporated

Baltimore, Maryland

LinkedIn: Bree Jones

Parity Homes

Starting Date: 2018-03-01

Innovation Summary

Parity innovatively heals neighborhoods experiencing hyper-vacancy by creating pathways for social collectives to purchase homes together block by block as a means of community and wealth-building.

Parity’s innovative model works across to equitably restore Black neighborhoods experiencing hyper-vacancy and increase affordable homeownership by using a systems change approach to lifting systemic barriers that make acquisition and redevelopment of abandoned buildings cumbersome. Parity restores the social fabric of neighborhoods through Collective power building and trauma-informed healing and mitigates the loss of legacy residents through mutual aid. In addition, Parity reduces the Appraisal Gap through policy implementations.

questions & answers

What is the geographic reach of your work to date?

Local

Which metropolitan areas (if any) does your work focus on?

Baltimore, Maryland

What is the core idea of your innovation? How does it increase the value of homes in Black communities?

Parity’s innovative model works across 4 key areas to equitably restore Black neighborhoods experiencing hyper-vacancy and increase affordable homeownership by 1) using a systems change approach to lifting systemic barriers that make acquisition and redevelopment of abandoned buildings cumbersome, 2) restoring the social fabric of neighborhoods through Collective power building and trauma-informed healing, 3) mitigating the loss of legacy residents through mutual aid, and 4) reducing the Appraisal Gap through policy implementations. Please see more information in the additional materials.

How is your idea new or different from current approaches?

Our method of development is uniquely social and is proving to be much more effective than traditional means of development that simply rely on sales marketing and real estate brokerages. In fact, our homes are entirely pre-sold through word of mouth. We are taking a deep engagement approach to place-based development, and the members who enter our Collective are able to build friendships with their future neighbors. Please see more information in the additional materials.

What are the primary circumstances that devalue homes in Black communities that you are addressing? What is the impact?

Redlining, urban renewal or “negro removal”, eminent domain, white flight, the Black following, blockbusting, and predatory lending were and continue to be de jure and de facto policies and practices predicated on anti-Blackness and white supremacy that decimated once thriving Black communities and explicitly blocked opportunities for Black households to generate wealth. In Baltimore, not only have these practices resulted in massive racial wealth disparities (30% of Black Baltimoreans have $0 net wealth), but they have also created 60,000 vacant and abandoned properties concentrated in the “Black Butterfly” which pose nearly insurmountable structural barriers including liens, low appraisals, and lack of capital inflow that prevent Black neighborhoods from healing.

What were your “aha” moments (the key insights) that led you to see how your innovation could work?

After experiencing gentrification and displacement in my hometown, I realized that historically Black communities are some of the most intrinsically valuable areas yet lowest market-valued because of institutionalized racism and that community members need to be the proactive progenitors of our own development outcomes before speculative and predatory investors capitalize on low land values for extractive and destructive development. I designed Parity as a tool to remove systemic barriers so that regular community folk can be the leaders of their own development efforts. I realized that our model was viable when we had an overwhelming response for our homes than we had inventory. It proved that the dominant narrative that Black neighborhoods are undesirable was not true. Instead, racism has created a stubborn market handicap that prevents Black communities from healing, but if we take a systems change approach, equitable revitalization that redistributes wealth *is* possible.

How does your innovation create structural change? What will be different in 5-10 years if you are successful?

Parity is removing systemic barriers and shifting the power structures away from extractive development that gentrifies and displaces to equitable development that puts power in the hands of the people. Parity is healing the traumatic relationship that Black communities have with land and place by restoring the ownership that was systematically stripped through institutionalized racism and reigniting the agency for community members to dictate how their neighborhoods are designed and thrive.

What is your innovation’s path to (i.e. strategy for) success? What momentum or impact have you achieved thus far?

Parity has made strides in its short three years of existence. We’ve acquired 20 properties that are entirely pre-sold, and 33 that are in the pipeline for inventory. We will deliver our first 10 newly renovated homes by the end of 2022. Our Collective is at 42 homebuyers and growing. We are in the process of hiring 4 additional team members, which will allow us to scale our efforts. In 2021, we authored a bill that addresses the Appraisal Gap in Historically Redlined Communities, which passed unanimously.

What will take your innovation to the next level?

Hyper-vacancy, gentrification, and displacement are issues happening in neighborhoods and cities across the country due to historic racist policy. Parity is at the point where we need support from larger groups like Ashoka and Brookings to amplify our model and learnings at a national scale. Ashoka and Brookings would also be prime thought partners in how to guide the flow of funds from Build Back Better to increase equitable redevelopment in Black neighborhoods and create affordable homeownership to close the racial wealth gap.

How will you involve others to move your initiative forward?

Parity has built a close coalition of implementation partners that includes policymakers, pro-bono legal services providers, advocacy groups, general contractors, architects, homeownership counselors, mortgage banks, funders, and donors. We are at the point now of execution.

What is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.). How do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the innovation grows?

The team currently consists of our Founder & CEO, 42 Parity Collective members, 5 board directors, and 5 community advisory members. Parity is in the process of hiring four additional employees.

How does your team reflect communities directly impacted by the topic you are addressing? Why are you, your team, or organization dedicated to the issue?

Realizing that the dominant culture and power systems do not recognize the innate value of Black neighborhoods, I intentionally founded Parity in such a way that it would derive its power from people on the ground who are impacted most by the problem, and who have the richest insight into the solutions. Please see more information in the additional materials.

Is there anything else you think we should know about your innovation?

N/A

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