Late rapper Nipsey Hussle, 33, was more than community minded, he was a community activist. Not only did he have businesses in his community, he was also trying to fight against potential gentrification of South Los Angeles — as well as other places in the U.S. On that end, he was “part of an investment group that was planning to use a tax incentive carved out in a recent federal law to revive not only his neighborhood but other forgotten, low-income communities in 11 cities, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico,” The Los Angeles Times reported.
Hussle, who was gunned down in front of his clothing store in late March, had been working on a plan for months that focused on ways to empower communities of color.
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“At the time of his death, Hussle was reaching out to a diverse array of partners — from fellow musicians and L.A. politicians to a Republican senator from South Carolina — to make the revitalization of Hyde Park something larger and potentially longer-lasting,” The LA Times reported.
Hussle and his business partner, real estate developer David Gross, had actually been scheduled to meet with Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, to talk about launching an investment fund Gross and Hussle had created called “Our Opportunity.” The mission of “Our Opportunity” is to work with the hometown heroes “of every large, majority Black city
Of Hussle, Gross said: “He wanted to be a symbol and really spark a movement. Basically, it was the economic version of Black Lives Matter. [That] is what we were trying to create.”
“I was excited when I learned of his interest in Opportunity Zones,” Sen. Scott said in a written statement. “And I’m saddened that we will never get to discuss our plans and vision for what this initiative could do to partner with and strengthen Nipsey’s already amazing efforts.”
“The tax incentive that Gross and Hussle were planning to tap was promoted by Scott and included in President Trump’s 2017 overhaul of the federal tax code. It offers potentially large tax breaks to investors who are willing to pour much needed capital into rebuilding poor and sometimes up-and-coming communities that have been designated as ‘opportunity zones,’” The L.A. Times reported.
This is how opportunity zones work: Instead of having huge capital gain taxes placed on them, investors in these zones get tax breaks but they must be committed to the zone for a decade to reap these tax benefits. The plan has been controversy and there has been a call for local governments and community organizations to come up with plans to protect residents. And this what Hussle was doing, trying to draft a plan for impoverished areas to benefit from the policy but to also be protected and most importantly empowered.
It seems Hussle was constantly thinking of community. “Anticipation of the $2 billion Crenshaw Metro rail line, steps from his shop, has driven up home prices nearby and pushed out some long time residents and black-owned small businesses. So, in the last years of his life, Hussle worked to cement African Americans’ place by partnering with city officials and community members to create the Destination Crenshaw art project. Then he got to work bringing his community the sort of amenities they want and which are common north of the 10 Freeway — boutiques, grocery stores and safe play spaces,” The L.A. Times reported.
In 2016 Hussle and Gross created an inner-city investment fund and one of their first projects was Vector 90, a co-working space and STEM center.Since it’s opening, Vector 90 has been successful.
Hussle and Gross also wanted to build on the L-shape strip mall, where Hussle’s Marathon Clothing store is located. They wanted to add 80 units of apartments and condos on top of shops and of those apartments 20 percent of them would be set aside for residents of the neighborhood.
“Part of that movement was conquering the ills of gentrification that so often mean communities of color are further disadvantaged, even to the point of being pushed out of their neighborhoods completely,” The Root reported.