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How this Black woman developer is taking on the housing market, and teaching others to do the same

A recent report shows that from 2016 to 2019, roughly 31,000 evictions were filed in Shelby County each year, which is one in every five renters.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More and more Memphians are losing their homes. According to data from the city’s housing report. From 2016 to 2019, roughly 31,000 evictions were filed in Shelby County each year, which is one in every five renters.

Many leaders are working to make housing more accessible and affordable, especially for people of color. One organization is hosting the 2023 Black Developers Housing Summit to help.

We spoke with realtist Rasheedah Jones about the event and how they are working to help families. Jones is a powerhouse in the industry as a Black woman developer and a licensed real estate broker. Jones says she is helping fill the affordable housing gap in Memphis one property at a time while showing other women and people of color how to do the same.

Jones is no rookie to the world of real estate and construction management, which was a battle for women over a century ago when they were not legally allowed to own or sell property, have a bank account in their name or take out a loan. However, Jones, with more than 15 years into her real estate career, started working on this affordable housing rehabilitation unit in Southwest Memphis.

“This is a unit that I actually purchased through a landbank. Initially, I was going to have this as an affordable rental, but I’ve decided to furnish it and sell it to a family that needs it to sustain home ownership,” Jones said.

She placed a bid through the landbank so she did not have to compete with open-market investors who she says were buying many properties at the time in cash. Although she purchased the house through the landbank, Jones says it was still a major expense.

“This is probably more than what I’m used to spending on affordable housing units, but certainly I know the need is there, so we continue to do this work,” Jones said.

Jones also serves as the Tennessee Managing Director for the Black Coalition for Housing, which provides fair access to wealth through real property ownership. It will host the 2023 Black Developers Housing Summit.

“The beauty of community development is you could be a mom-and-pop restaurant thinking about buying a complex, and you’re a developer," Jones explained. "Churches are some of the biggest developers we have in our community here, so a lot of times they own land and don’t know how to develop it. This is where they want to be."

The summit will be at the Hilton Hotel on Ridge Lake Blvd, starting at 8 a.m. from Thursday until Saturday.

If you are a student or an emerging developer, you can attend for free. Just click here to register.

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