Opportunity Zones have the potential to improve conditions that influence social determinants of health in high need neighborhoods.
Opportunity Zones were established in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term investments in low-income communities. Opportunity Zones offer special treatment on capital gains in a way that’s designed to drive long-term investment in a diverse range of low-income communities throughout the nation. Various tax incentives are provided to encourage investment through privately or publicly managed Opportunity Funds.
Over 8,700 census tracts were designated as Opportunity Zones throughout the US, and 33% either contain a hospital or are ½ a mile from one. As anchor institutions, hospitals can play a role in steering and making investments as one of the largest employers with deep roots in their communities.
Opportunity Zones come with both opportunities and challenges when considering the equitable and inequitable outcomes of investments in low-income communities. Many are asking who will benefit and how the program can include voices of community members to develop a vision for the investments that increases the quality of life in their neighborhoods and does not lead to displacement.
Bringing dollars to communities that need capital after years of disinvestment and providing long-term investment with flexible capital for multiple uses could be extremely beneficial. However, there are major risks, including: risk of gentrification that leads to displacement in low income communities and communities of color; lack of proper protections to ensure that benefits go towards improving quality of life for the most in need; and local Community Development Financial Institutions are not directly involved, and must compete with larger national financial institutions that do not have local knowledge and understanding of the impacted communities.
This page collected by the Build Healthy Places Network highlights resources, news, and articles from across sectors related to Opportunity Zones we’ve pulled together and grouped for guidance.
This collection of reports and articles provide a range of views.
- FuseCorps: Avoiding Gentrification, How to Use Opportunity Zones to Benefit Communities
- The New Localism: Health Care and Opportunity Zones: The Game Begins
- Shelterforce: Panacea or Problem? The Possibilities in Opportunity Zones
- PolicyLink: Recommendations for Opportunity Zones
- NextCity: These Opportunity Zone Investors Want to Support Local Businesses
- Governing.com: The Problem with Opportunity Zones
- SPARCC Hub: National Opportunity Zones Ranking Report
- Housing Finance: Affordable Housing Finance – Top 5 Ways to Use Opportunity Zone Funds in LIHTC Deals
- Shelterforce: Who will benefit from opportunity zones?
- MarketWatch: ‘Opportunity fund’ managers favor urban areas, commercial real estate
- National Housing Coalition: Letter to the Tax department with concerns
- Next City: Will This New Investor Tax-Incentive Policy Avoid Mistakes of the Past?
These resources provide guidance and synthesis for implementing Opportunity Zones in equitable and thoughtful ways.
- LISC: Opportunity Zones Playbook: “Navigating the Opportunity Zones: Community Partners”
- PolicyLink: Opportunity Zones Guiding Principles and Perspectives
- Kresge: Opportunity Zones Framework
- Enterprise’s platform Opportunity360 offers a way to map, measure and report on OZs.
- Urban Institute: Opportunity Zones: Maximizing Return on Public Investment – All Opportunity Zones ranked by need + risk of gentrifying.
- Council of Development Finance Agencies: Opportunity Zone Resource and Policy hub
- Accelerator for America: Opportunity Zone Investment Prospectus Guide
Recent and Upcoming Webinars
Opportunity Zones are a major discussion across different sectors and many organizations are developing expertise through webinars.
- 8/13/18 Understanding Opportunity Zones in the Bay Area
- 3/8/19 Opportunity Zones and Rural Development featuring USDA and EPA
- 3/18/19 Opportunity Zone Investor Summit
- 5/8/19 Opportunity Zones and Community Impact, The Kresge Foundation Approach
- 6/27/19 Opportunity Zones and Affordable Housing featuring HUD and USDA
- 8/22/19 Opportunity Zones and Transportation featuring DOT and EDA
- 10/24/19 Opportunity Zones and Small Business featuring SBA and EDA