Development Without Displacement: Honoring and Respecting Community Voice for Community Benefit

As part of DreamWeek 2021, the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center will hosted a panel discussion between San Antonio’s Mi Barrio No Se Vende Coalition and the Houston Coalition for Equitable Development without Displacement.

The discussion focused on community organizing efforts for proposed Community Benefits Agreements (CBA’s) in both San Antonio and Houston. Panelists include Uyiosa Elegon, Mary Claire Neal, Dr. Jerry González, Sofia Lopez, and Adriana Abundis. 

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The Houston Coalition for Equitable Development without Displacement (HCEDD) has a goal to secure a Community Benefits Agreement with Rice University as it expands development adjacent to Houston’s Third Ward. Likewise, the Mi Barrio No Se Vende Coalition is organizing to seek a Community Benefits Agreement with the University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) to benefit the nearby historic Westside community in their downtown expansion. We have seen that in low-income communities of color across the country, development projects can accelerate gentrification and displacement of neighborhoods and residents.

A Community Benefits Agreement is a legally binding, enforceable agreement signed by community groups and a real estate developer that requires the developer to provide specific mitigations to the local community.  The agreement could be used to ensure educational opportunities, historic and cultural preservation, affordable housing, living-wage jobs, and food security- anything that the community identifies as needs that the developer can meet.