Developers have access to power that can have an immense effect on the neighborhoods. All too often their impact is negative, displacing residents, closing community stalwarts, or causing rapid gentrification. It does not have to be this way! Here are a few suggestions for developers large and small to bring positive change to communities.

Residential developers can include affordable units for renters or homeowners. This is where Philadelphia Accelerator Fund can help. We connect developers building affordable housing to the funding they need to make their projects a reality. By building a mix of market rate and affordable housing, developers can bring sustainable changes to neighborhoods. When people can purchase a home, they benefit from increased property values and start building generational wealth. Affordable rent prices ensure tenants have enough money to spend on food, healthcare, and other needs.

Developers should commit to hiring local tradespeople and administrative staff for their projects. Not only does this bring jobs and money into the communities, but it also gives them an opportunity to meet the needs of the neighborhood which brings us to our next suggestion.

Engaging the locals and asking them what they need is crucial. For example, in a mixed-use building, do neighbors really want a coffee shop or would they rather have a grocery store? Work with community leaders to ensure a new construction becomes a problem-solver rather than increasing the difficulties marginalized groups face.

Community leaders are vital because they are already doing the hard work. They know and understand the conditions people are currently experiencing and they can make suggestions about how to bring positive change. Support their work by paying consulting fees and/or donations to the organizations they run. Examples of community groups include food pantries, senior programs, youth sports leagues, and community gardens. 

Developers have a unique opportunity to engage the artists by commissioning murals or sculptures. Philadelphia has a thriving art scene and Mural Arts have spent decades installing stunning art across the city. Mural Arts takes a mindful approach, inviting locals to take part in the planning process, subject matter, and even help paint the murals in their neighborhoods. Murals can also offer tax breaks and have been shown to increase property values.

New buildings and the developers that bring them to fruition have an enormous impact on the surrounding community. Developers have the opportunity to make their impact positive by offering affordable housing, hiring locals, engaging neighbors, donating to local organizations, and supporting artists. If you are a small or minority developer searching for funding opportunities or mentorship, sign up for PAF’s online portal. Joining is free and can help you fund your next mixed-use or affordable housing project.