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OneRouge Community Check-In: Week 210

Updated: Jun 21




Well, we missed National Healthy Homes month this year (they moved the observance from June to April). However, the Dallas Housing Summit is this weekend. Figured this is as good at time as any to talk housing, so here we are!


It is true that homeowners can live in unhealthy homes particularly if they are elderly and/or income constrained. Whether it be lead pipes, insufficient insulation, or termites eating the foundation, repairs can be cost prohibitive. But for renters the problem is amplified not because of price point, but because they have no control over whether the repairs will actually be made. 


We can agree that inadequate housing keeps folk trapped both in poverty and often in illness. Conversely, healthy housing is just and avoids shelter related ailments. How do we know? Well, we have access to the EBRP Housing Market Segmentation Study and our featured speakers.


Learn with us as we talk "A house is not a home...but it's still nice to have" with:


 

Notes

Casey Phillips: Good morning, everybody. Happy Friday. Happy Friday. Pepper we were just getting a great story from one of our speakers, which we will get once he's settled into space. How you doing today, Ms. Roussel?


Pepper Roussel:  I am doing well. I am actually I am up. I am it's a Fri Yay. I need to head to the library and return a book that has renewed a couple of times. But here is the exciting bit. The exciting bit is that Garden Marcus, I love this kid. He does these these plant journeys on social media. 


Paul Franklin: The audience that we reach community, one of the one of the 13, 15 people we identified or organizations we identified as partners or people that. 


Pepper: Yeah. All right. So we'll catch up with Paul in just a second, but yeah, so garden markets. Is this guy in social media who talks about the correlation between nurturing your plants and nurturing yourself and he has a new book out and it's the most adorable thing. Because he really is as they have dubbed him a cross between a Mr. Rogers and Bob Ross. With his  observations of how caring for a nurturing for a plant will help you care for yourself. Anyways, he's got it. It's on audio audible, and it will be the thing that is in the background this weekend. And so what are y'all doing over? It looks like you're outside Casey. What are you doing? 


Casey: Oh, I'm not in front of a laptop and in an office? Oh my goodness. It is a great day. Yeah, I'm we're out at Fair Park in Dallas and I'll give space to our other friends to talk about what we're out here for but including I will be seeing Jay Gaudet. Thank you for sharing the space today. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow and It's going to be a really cool weekend that Paul will let everybody know and I just want to welcome everyone to the space soon everybody that's going to contribute today.


Paul: Thank y'all. I'm sorry, so I'm sorry I was talking away and was actually on mute. I'm in. 


Pepper: No, we lost you. We lost you for a second and then when you came back couldn't really understand what was going on, but so let me do a formal introduction. We are going to get the One Rouge Friday calls if we're. What is today? Whatever today is, we are getting our One Rouge Friday call off and running and we are leading our headliner. Today is Paul Franklin. He is out of the Dallas Walls office and he's going to be talking with us about something pretty fun and interesting that's coming up today and tomorrow. And then we've got a special super secret guest as well as our fan favorites who will be talking today about healthy housing. Paul, if you wouldn't mind letting us know who you are, what you do and why how it is that we can be involved your 5 minutes starts now. 


Paul: Good morning, everyone. I am Paul Franklin. I'm here in Dallas. I am Director of Operations of everything Dallas Walls Project. We are out today and we're setting up for our affordable housing summit that's taking place at Fair Park. The same thing you bet we host that state fair of Texas. It is a festival of service, which starts out with community cleanup. We go into affordable housing and financial literacy workshops and we'll ultimately end with a huge vendor, mark, vendor and resource market with live entertainment and food and just celebrating the service. Affordable housing was one of the things that in being a part of the Dallas Housing Coalition. When we identify key audiences of people we wanted to reach, I saw that community was number 13 of 15 organizations we identified as people that they wanted to have in the building. And that rubbed me really wrong and understanding that community was almost an afterthought. So for that. We wanted to raise the awareness in the community and also have community understand what their role is and becoming a bigger part of the solution and being able to raise that awareness in their own communities. And that's what our community cleanups do giving pride, having community take pride in the communities, being able to pour back into it to make it healthier living for them. In this community, we serve the South Dallas area strictly out here in Dallas which is the equivalent to 70805 and Baton Rouge the North Baton Rouge area, the equivalent to that. And we just wanted to, we wanted to raise that awareness and bring folks in from we actually one of our partners with the Epiphany Foundation and also works with Matthew Southwest. Took the first step in creating and building 88 homes out here in Dallas create making the first step in definitely creating affordable housing and didn't just, they didn't just build those homes. They actually had those, they bought those lots maybe about seven years ago, but worked really hard at legislation to create a tax freeze so it wouldn't push existing residents out. And I just thought that it was so admirable and I thought that if all of us took that approach to building and took that intent, then I think that in raising that awareness, we can have healthier housing for families out here. That was the intent. And again, forgive me because I am in route and they are blowing me up because we're setting up today and I wanted to be all the way present, but time is not on my side this morning. Jay Gaudet, thanks for being here today, man. And I really look forward to what you will have to contribute to this conversation and Pepper, thank you so much for allowing me the space to share and raise the awareness of what we're doing out here in Dallas. And I'll be on to answer any questions that anyone may have about anything that's going on in Dallas or anything around the event here at fair park. And if you wanted to find out more about it, You can go to fairparkjuneteenth.com. Again, that is  fairparkjuneteenth.com. And it will pull up the website and it will definitely give you some insight as to what we're doing out here for our housing summit. So thank you guys so much for the time and space. But I will digress and open the floor for any questions or for any input that anyone may have at this moment. 


Pepper: Oh, my dear Paul, I thank you for being here. I do understand the whole concept of time, not being on your side. God bless America. It is a frequent issue. I think for all of us, but that you are actually taking the time to spend with us this morning even a few minutes in and out of your car and on and off of service. So we genuinely appreciate it. And with that said, to make sure that we what happened? Carry on. Cheers. And to make sure that we keep Dallas at the the top of the hour, right? Let's shift to I suppose not technically at Alice, but anyways, Jay Gaudet. Thank you for being our special guests on this morning. And Paul, thank you for inviting him to come in to speak. Please tell us who you are, what you do and what is the fun and fascinating thing that you will be in Dallas to chat about your 5 minutes. 


Jay Gaudet: Yes. Thank you guys. And thank you for inviting me. My name is Jay Gaudet. And just, I want to just so I want to clear this up. I won't be in Dallas this Saturday. Me and Paul had some communication. There are issues that we went back and forth on over the last week or so. So I won't be there this weekend. I apologize, but I'm glad I'm here to talk to y'all this morning and looking forward to spending some more time in Dallas over the next four years. Actually, my daughter just committed to Waco. She's going to be going to Baylor, I'm sorry. She just committed to Baylor. On a track scholarship, so she's going to be going to Baylor in August. Of course, my wife is already making plans to have a 2nd home in Dallas. We will be spending some time in Dallas a lot more often. So I'm looking forward to that. But, yeah, so again my name is Jay. I've been in the commercial real estate and finance industry for about 15 years. I started off as an investor investing in small properties, duplexes and 4 plexes and then transitioning to small developments. Until I realized that the cornerstone of development is your ability to be able to generate financing and put together finance. And then when I, once I understood that and understood how banks underwrite, especially how they underwrite for deals done by minorities. That piqued my interest to actually go more to the financial aspect of development and finance in its entirety. I went from there to work for a CDFI. As an underwriter started off as a loan officer and went into a work as an underwriter to understand how. To put together financing for affordable housing deals done in underserved communities. For the last 5 years of my career I've worked as a financial author speaker as well as putting together initiatives to help support  the tokenization of commercial real estate. I actually sit on the housing, the East Baton Rouge Parish housing authority of the senior vice chair. I'm also the president of partner Southeast, which is their development arm as well as I sit on the capital area finance authority board. Where we fund development deals for affordable housing deals in the community for emergent developers and other philanthropic organizations that have some type around affordable housing. I think I was invited today to talk about. My perspective of the state of affordable housing as well as NFT’s and I don't know how many people are familiar with NFT’s and it's actually been quite a while since I talked about this because I think me and Casey first started having a conversation about this. I told him, 4 years ago. You couldn't find hardly anybody that even understood what an NFT was when it came to real estate. So having that conversation was pretty difficult. I was in a Goldman Sachs 10 K S B one 10,000. And my growth opportunity was to actually showcase how to use NFTs into a commercial real estate transaction.


Pepper:  Quickly Jay, please do. I don't mean to stop you roll, but what's an NFT? Because, acronyms are hard. 


Jay: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. NFT is a non fungible token. It's almost like if you would look at having a share or a commerce stock in the company. Pretty recently individuals like myself and some other attorneys have been playing with the idea of transferring real property into an NFT. And what that means is that all of the documents when you go to a closing, so when you close on your house, so you buy a piece of commercial property, you know that you got to sit at the closing table. And you sign thousands of documents that you probably have not read. But you're just signing away and the closing usually takes between 30, sometimes 60 days on a commercial deal. It could take 60-90 days or even longer. This process of transferring real property into an NFT, it just takes those documents and puts them on a blockchain. What that does is that gives us the ability to transfer property using our smartphone with the click of a button. It's almost like everything is just housed on. Go ahead.  


Pepper: Just letting you know. You got a note. One more minute to go and so many questions. We've got some in the chat already. Oh, alright. We got some in the chat already, but we're gonna come back to blockchain and please finish your thought and we'll bring in the other speakers as well. 


Jay: Okay. With the one I'll say this, the CEO of black of Blackstone identified this time as the time to invest in commercial real estate, because of what has happened with the pandemic and the mass sell off of commercial buildings with them being empty. But it's something that's going to be unique here. A lot of people are not going to be able to invest in an opportunity. Because of the cost of the barrier, the cost of entry and commercial real estate. Transferring tokenizing commercial real estate helps to change that because it gives minority investors. People who don't have a lot of cash on hand, the ability to invest in commercial real estate by being able to buy shares or tokens from other from investors that are able to sell those tokens as NFTs. So the broad scheme of the transfer of real property to an NFT really changes the dynamic of how small house, how retail investors can invest, how we can, how we are approaching affordable housing, and as well as how documents are being housed and transferred on a blockchain, opposed to the dinosaur way of doing commercial and residential real estate. So I'll pause there. 


Pepper: So many questions,  but at the root of it is affordable housing. So what is it a healthy and affordable homes? And as always, our fan favorites are back to talk with us today about what does that look like in application, particularly in Baton Rouge and what sorts of new things do we have going on in town? Let's see. Alfredo Cruz, if you wouldn't mind letting us know who you are, what you do and what we need to know, we'd appreciate it. Your five minutes starts now.  


Alfredo Cruz: Great. Hi, everybody. Thanks for having me back. And Really glad to be here to talk about 1 of my favorite things to discuss, which is  our lack of quality, affordable housing. It's not my favorite thing to talk about necessarily, but I do like to take any platform to raise awareness about some of the root causes for. Our lack of affordable housing, mainly a sometimes intentional disinvestment in some communities and that's by design. Really not treating all communities equitably. And I wanted to also take this opportunity to raise awareness about the East Baton Rouge Parish market segmentation study that you've all heard me mention previously, and thanks Pepper for sending the link to that study, which I'm also going to drop in the chat. One of the reasons I want to raise awareness about the studies, because when it was planned and gone in the midst of covid, it was with the intention to really center that work at the intersection of health and housing, so it wasn't just going to be a study about the housing needs, but also, like, how we got there, how we got to this housing prices. And it elevated  a lot of the disparities that have been created because of racism, how people were the red lining process that created this segregation of people based on race. And based on economic status.  And those red lines still exist today and it happens in different ways. But it also created a huge disparity of health conditions. And it's one of the focuses of the market segmentation studies to really point to the, IM the health impacts of substandard housing in some of these areas. And he shows up in correlation with food deserts. Where there's a lot of substandard housing in the same areas that have in our considered food deserts. Also, where there's the least amount of life expectancy, there's almost a 20 year difference between some of the areas that have the worst housing conditions, the worst substandard housing conditions and where there's almost a 20 year life expectancy difference. And not surprisingly, those areas are also primarily African American minority black and brown areas of renter occupied primarily also areas where there's the poorest health conditions. Correlations with the worst housing conditions and housing conditions also were mapped in this study to correlate with poor physical health, overall poor physical health and when there's a predominance of cancer and a lot of death related illnesses, 11 census tracts are designated as medically underserved areas. And those are mapped in the study to correlate with the poorest housing conditions in EBR Parish. Also social vulnerability and I mentioned life expectancy already. Where the average life expectancy in the EBR parish is 76.4 years. There's. Almost a 20 year difference in the more predominantly white neighborhoods and predominantly black neighborhoods with poor housing conditions. So I put the link to that study in. The chat. And I hope that throughout this conversation, we can talk about some of the other conditions that lead to these poor housing crises that we have and also some of the remedies to really help us improve. Both the amount of affordable, healthy housing stock and the conditions in which people who are low and moderate income are living. Thanks. Pepper.  


Pepper: Thank you Alfredo. Oh, sorry. My alarm was just going off. All right. And looking at same problem through different lens. Verna Bradley-Jackson. If you wouldn't mind letting us know who you are, what to do and what we need to know. We'd appreciate it. You five minutes starts now.


Verna Bradley-Jackson: All right. Sounds like a winner. Thank you so much One Rouge. Thank you so much Pepper. I almost call you Sister Pepper. But thank you so much for this opportunity. I'm Verna Bradley-Jackson with One Touch Ministry and I have the team around me as well and we deal with reentry housing. And when it comes to re entry housing, we have nine different things that I can touch on this morning within my five minutes. The main thing is that re entry housing from incarceration back into the community and with their families can involve several different challenges and barriers. Just to name a few, housing discrimination, It's one formerly incarcerated individuals often face discrimination when trying to secure housing. Many landlords are reluctant to rent to them due to the stigma type and the bias about ex offenders. Limited affordable housing option. I have a problem with that limited affordable housing because is there a sliding scale on the amount when you come to that affordable housing piece. Even without a criminal record, finding affordable housing can be challenging in many areas, but those with a criminal history and also the ones that don't have a criminal history can be challenging the financial piece, like $7.25 an hour, right? 32 hours, right? 220, $232 a week. So just imagine. And the rent is like what? $1,000? $900. And if you go in some areas, 70802, 70805, just to name a few, not just to pick on 'em, is that those houses are unhealthy. Almost like Alfredo was saying earlier. Is that they have to be very selective on the housing that they get because based on their incomes that they're already receiving, or if they receiving any at all, and then the lack of supportive network. Reentry individuals may lack a strong support system such as their family, even their friends to help them find and maintain their house because they're depending on other people because they're coming out of incarceration. Just imagine being locked up for 28 years and coming to the community to find housing. How hard? How easy? What do you think? Just imagine yourself put yourself in their shoes. And not only that, the legal barriers that they're facing certain legal restrictions, like a SO such as housing policies that restrict them from living in certain areas. is a barrier and mental health substance abuse, just to name a few. How can that affect your housing and your ability to maintain employment barriers? Difficult finding stable employment, you can go to the day labor, which is good. I'm not knocking it. It's good. The lack of transportation, sometimes the transportation don't go to the job sites that they need them to go to. So it's very limited when it comes to housing. The housing may not be in the area that they can, that transportation is there and available, but addressing these challenges require a multifaceted approach that involves policy changes, community support, access to research resources, such as affordable housing, employment opportunities, and initiatives. That's aimed at reducing the stigma and discrimination against formerly incarcerated individuals when it comes to housing and being a part of that for 28 years, it is truly a challenge. When we come when we talk about the affordable housing piece so that's basically what we want to have some answers to and to hear my opinion. I think that affordable housing piece needs to be talked about. Where do we start with that? If somebody comes out and they're only making that 232 a month and the house is $700 that they don't have enough. So how do we go about and re change that definition? That's just my point on today's discussion. 


Pepper: Listen, math never seems to be my thing. And I don't really understand that. Look, math is not my thing, but I do know that if you only have 700, and it costs 1000 that's not enough. One of the larger overwhelming questions is, yes, what do we need? But how do we get there? I do want to get this question out before there's too much that goes on in the chat. And this was one that came when Jay was talking. If you don't mind answering that, I want to know more about the tokenization of commercial real estate. Who does that and why does it benefit them? How do I spot it in the wild? 


Jay: All right. Oh yeah. Thank you. Good question. So first question, who does that? You'll find some organizations online that are working in the space of one is True Mint. They're a partner of mine and they're basically blockchain attorneys that have been successful and they were based out of California. They have been successful in converting real property into an NFT on the commercial side. And there's a few others. The thing about the space right now is that BlackRock has taken the initiative to basically lead the charge of regulating tokenization for real estate. So it's not yet regulated. A lot of people in the space are waiting to see when that's going to happen because it's going to change a lot of factors and it's going to change with liquidity. It looks like, of course, it can be traded because it's not regulated. So some things that people in the space are waiting to happen, which we are going in that direction 4 years ago when we 1st started talking about this. We weren't where we are now. Nobody was actually talking about how this could become regulated. So now we have a larger real estate hedge fund that has taken a lead in the charge to say, Hey, this is something that is important. This is something that is going to be effective. We need to be able to have a seat at the table to make sure that this becomes regulated. Finding it in the wild the 1st thing about finding it in the wild is knowing what you're looking for. And just with the base information that you have that, that I'm giving you right now is to know that it's out there and that it is coming. Once you start looking this up, you're going to go if you're anything like me. You're going to go down a rabbit hole. When I first started looking into the space it was like back in 2019. Biz now did an article on me talking about my approach into the NFT space when it comes to real estate and the metaverse. That was something else that was, it all tied in together. But that thought process came from watching my daughter play Roblox. And see how things are being built in a digital world. And then how those things are being transferred. And as far as the benefit. Anybody that from an investment standpoint. If you want to invest in commercial real estate, typically it's going to require that you have a pretty decent amount of cash on hand. And whether you're looking to be financed or if you had your own money, it requires, it's a high cost to entry and that usually kicks out a lot of smaller investors, especially for minorities. A lot of times they don't have that kind of cash. Just lying on hand. The tokenization of commercial real estate changes that dynamic. It allows the small guy to be able to invest by only getting a piece the same as if you will buy a share on the New York stock exchange. That's going to be the reality of the tokenization of real estate. I want to buy a commercial building downtown, but I don't have 25 million to invest. I can actually buy a piece of that building downtown because once it's been tokenized, then it's broken up into a thousand of tokens that I can actually start owning portions of that investment. And that's what changes the dynamic of the futuristic aspect of real estate investing would have been tokenized that you're allowing more people to become participants. And even with affordable housing, the things that are changing as the world changes. And even as we have generational shifts in our economy, having more, having more creative ways to to maneuver money in these transactional situations  are going to be are going to be a game changer, especially when there's a younger dynamic coming to the into these industries, that may not want to, they may want to use Bitcoin to pay their rent. They may want to pay their rent with tokens instead of cash, and they have more availability to do so with tokenization of the asset.  


Pepper: All right, so follow up question is actually something I was thinking. Not necessarily. So the question is, how is this different from fractional real estate? I was wondering, how is this different from cooperative housing where you buy in with a little bit? But is the same concept here? I don't know what RIT is.  


Jay: Yeah. So yeah, good question. The thing that makes it different and where, as I mentioned before, is why this thing become a regulated is important is because the difference is if you buy a share if the asset is tokenized, so I'll just use I use the Dallas Maverick stadium for example, if the Dallas Maverick stadium was tokenized. And  you wanted to own a portion of the Dallas Maverick Stadium. If Casey was an investor, he owned five tokens in the Dallas Maverick Stadium and they were 25 a token. He can resell those tokens to you.  At 30 a token for where he's making that he's making a profit. And now you're able to invest in that, stating that the difference is that the tokens will be traded. They can be traded multiple times as if you were  buying shares or trading shares. On an app like Robinhood or E trade, et cetera. So it gives other people, other retail investors, the opportunity to continue to be involved in that, in that transaction, in that exchange, opposed to just a group of people that we pool money together to buy an asset or we own a fraction of it when you're doing fractional ownership. Yeah. You own a fraction of that asset. But as far as the liquidity and being able to being able to sell it at will within within a click of a button on your smartphone, that's that, that, that's not available for that particular situation. 


Pepper: All right, we've got another question in the chat.  Private developers have made an art form of taking taxpayer dollars for private investment. So why isn't there, why aren't there more systems that force public dollars to serve low income communities by offering ownership opportunities like HUD, house, home ownership vouchers? No one in particular, just if y'all have. 


Jay: What I would say is they're what I guess the real answer is that always comes down to politics, right? There are definitely are initiatives for affordable housing for it. But when it comes to the financing of affordable housing project the developer is always subject to housing tax credits, how are they going and how are they going to fund this deal to where they can still be profitable and they can still develop a product 99 percent of the time that developer always has a financing gap where they have to have some type of alternative bridge for that financing and unfortunately, it curtails the affordability of that product and how they are able to develop that product. What we've done at the housing authority, where we're in the process of doing, we're actually creating an affordable housing fund that could potentially, we're still working through the details, but potentially can be community invested, where the community can have investment into the actual fund and they can earn equity from being invested into the fund, but also it gives the affordable housing developer the ability to have that gap financing so where we could develop a product and not have to wait so much and rely so much on federal dollars because for one it is highly competitive. A lot of times we can't build it. You can't build it. The demand for housing and the supply is not there. It's not an inventory for the demand. You just can't build fast enough. We have a 2,000 person waiting list. And bad rules at the housing authority for, because we just don't have enough units. 


Pepper: Okay. So that brings me to a more prescient question that if we are thinking that there's a possibility of democratizing the investment in the actual housing is that something is a short term solution, right? Is this something that we can get to a place where folks who already don't have enough can either invest or that the nonprofits that support them can do anything about it? Because it seems very much like a long term situation. Whereas we've got folks who are currently in situations that are untenable. We'll pass. Can anyone speak about the recent housing development at EBRP COA that was able to make a reality? 


Jay: EBRP COA.  


Pepper: Reverend Anderson, can you come off mute and let us know a little bit more?


Reverend Anderson: I'm talking about the Council on Aging's recent development that they did and how they put together that financing system. I think their project came in at around 13 million, but I don't quote me, that may not have been the total figure. 


Jay: Yeah I can speak to that because that deal was done with CAFA as well being a funding partner. One of the things that CAFA does for developers, because CAFA does something that's called a pilot CAFA is the Capital Area Finance Authority. CAFA does something called a pilot where the developer can sell the actual development or the land to capital because they don't pay any sales tax. And Capital gets a percentage of that saving. So that helps with the overall bottom line of the development, because since CAFA has become the owner of the development they're not paying any sales tax on that development, and actually we're able to continue with the development with that savings to add to their bottom line. And they're also a funder. Oh, I don't remember exactly how much they funded for that deal, but they are one of the funders for that particular deal. And what they do, they pretty much come in as a gap financier for the capital stack. I know that Capital was instrumental in making sure that deal was able to go through being one of the financiers on that particular project. 


Pepper: Is there help me understand from all of you help me understand how can we use this?  Idea of democratization of housing investment to ensure that we actually do have healthy housing. I'm asking that question, not because I'm dense, but because it seems very much that just because you have housing and just because you have developers and just because you have investment does not guarantee that it is healthy. Healthy housing. So what needs to be in place in order for those? And it could be a layered answer. What needs to be in place in order to ensure that we actually have healthy and affordable housing? 


Alfredo: I would argue that we need to set a standard. What does that mean? And I know there's some guidance that HUD provides for housing standards. Under the housing voucher program for section 8, that's a standard, but a lot of communities start by really defining what is healthy housing for us. And what does that mean? And it's important to do that because we're in very different conditions here than in some other states. And we also experience a lot of natural disasters. So housing.  Healthy housing standards, I think it's the 1st step for us to set that standard. And even in some communities. Thinking about affordability as part of that standard is important. So I think that's the initial step and I put in the chat. The link to the National Center for healthy housing that does provide a national standard that it's a really good starting point. And then that standard helps guide development. Just connect those dots that, more investment opportunities for developers means more creation of affordable housing. You would hope, but that standard would help. Ensure that it is meeting healthy housing requirements that the community wants. 


Pepper: Full support also is with that standard of affordable housing. Can we also do something that really centers those who are already marginalized? What are the. Oh, okay nevermind. What are the chances that we can actually use these definitions in order to create the world that we want to see that really does prioritize the immigrants, the blacks, the browns, the formerly incarcerated folks. Is that something that can happen or is this really just aspirational? Alfredo, you're off mute. You want to let us know?  


Alfredo: Are we just, I thought it was a question for the broader group. But yes, I think it's possible. The process itself, though, has to have that intention. I think we set that intention in a process so that is that is the outcome. And I think that process would likely have intermediate steps for those. Participating to come to terms with their own biases, with their own racism and  we grow together as a community, right? So the process helps us grow. In our own awareness, but also as a community, we grow in our own awareness about racism, all the biases. That got us here and we're going to change this and we're going to come up with a standard that really centers. People who have been marginalized and discriminated against because of their skin, because of their economic condition  then we have to have a different process for developing that standard, not the same process that's government led. And  may give us the same outcome. 


Pepper: We also have a question in the chat. Can anyone speak to the lack of transparency regarding how zoning policy is devaluing property values in communities of color? No, and low wealth communities. And just expanding on that, the continued dumping of dirty industries and community to stabilizing businesses into communities of color is a big issue. I will take that silent as a no.  


Alfredo: I'll say that I think the choice. Tends to be typically where there's going to be least resistance  that whole land use and zoning  language is difficult to comprehend by design  and that  it's hard to get low income communities to engage and changing those policies, changing those practices. And I think all that is intentional. It's those systems that are racist and discriminatory and continue to abuse communities of color in low income areas. And I think all that is by design. And these neighborhoods are where it's the cheapest land, right? And there's going to be least resistance. And I think that's really what leads to these choices. A combination of those things where there's least resistance, cheap land where these things can happen.  These types of developments can happen and then people just  don't know, don't understand how to engage in the process to change those policies and practices. And there's no real willingness to change that as I see it,  because it's just convenient, easier to get things done. 


Verna: Pepper, I unmuted  for a second. I think we're going, Alfredo, I'm gonna springboard from you. Yep. A lot of the toxic wrong burner, chemicals business are always in the underprivileged area that they don't have the resources to fight them to keep them out. And it's politically based. Am I saying all this right, Verna? But I think in order for some of this to be of help  on addressing the challenges for healthy housing and affordable housing,  the ones that's in these areas don't have the monies or the resources to make some of those political moves or help along the political channels. Move the political ball or have any inputs on the political ball. So if you're not going to go into country club to put a chemical plant or a toxic environment or something  in order for us to do this. We're going to need some monies and it's going to have some policy changes that's going to have to take place in order for the money to shift to the areas where we needed to shift in order for us to maintain a healthy housing in those areas.

It's just go down to the money thing to me.  


Alfredo: I agree with that. I agree totally with that. I think the industries we try to fight. Yeah, those that have deep pockets again, pay lobbyists. To influence policy, and then poor communities rely on advocates and volunteers, and we're working with a very different budget.


We're trying to fight those industries a budget that is constantly in the red negative and we don't seem to make any progress because of that differential that you're pointing out. So I completely agree with you. 


Verna: Because the heart is not going to be able to, the hearts wants to, the give the housing and do all this, but it's still gonna take that financial piece and the collaboration with others to make this all come together. That's why I say the multifaceted approach with everybody coming together, whether you have money or not, or you don't have money in order for the have healthy housing or affordable housing. 


Pepper: That's supposed to be fair. If you got to work 5 jobs in order to pay the rent going to  these meetings is  recreational thinking. But, that's just my theory anyways. 


Alfredo: Yeah, I really appreciate Manny dropping these links about how other communities New York in particular has. Really change a lot of it zoning to be more equitable, like to achieve all of these goals that really improve health conditions and conditions overall for people living in poverty and low income areas. But there's got to be a political will for this. And also a process by which we change those processes that aim to inform policy, make those accessible to people working people who are working Pepper 5 jobs, as you said, to just make ends meet because we don't have affordability. For them, housing affordability for them.  


Pepper: All right. And so can we flip it and properly assess property taxes? What are the chances? Verna, thank you so much for that shake of head.


Verna: No, it's something adjudicated properties. 


Alfredo: Yeah. Yeah.  Yeah. You're talking about people's money, right? When you cap property taxes, you're basically capping the valuation of somebody's, Wealth,  and I think a lot of people  are in fact benefiting from their deescalating housing prices when they're, sitting on property that they bought 10 years ago, speculators. And they're the ones that are going to come out fighting the most against this issue because they're benefiting from the escalation of their empty lots that they're just sitting on in low income areas surrounding downtown because they know they predict some development is going to occur and boom, empty lot. They bought for 3, 000. That's going to be 300,000. So speculators are going to be the ones that are going to be having deep pockets to lobby against this practice or this consideration, which could happen.


Pepper: No, and I'm sorry. I'm only giggling because every time you say speculators, all I hear is carpetbaggers. So please don't misunderstand the giggle. It is only because the voices in my head are just screaming. 


Alfredo: Yeah, I think it just comes down to political will. Honestly, yeah, money is an issue, but political will. I think it's important. Verna asked the question about, like, how do we reframe this housing conversation? I think we need to make housing the issue that we ask all people running for office about a lot, we ask for them to prioritize it at that point. We ask for their commitment. And then we make sure that they follow through with that and Reverend Anderson is always pointing out to the fact that it all comes down to voting. But when they're campaigning, let's make sure that we force them to pay attention to the importance of this housing crisis and we make sure that they're responding to our questions about how they're going to solve for this. And their appetite for all of these suggestions revisiting our property assessment, property taxes and rezoning and making that more accessible. Let's ask all of these questions of them and then make them make commitments that they can follow through  and then vote for them. Depending on those answers.  


Verna: Yeah. Yeah. And then, when they running for office, they're always in those areas putting those signs out. They see the conditions of the housing there but they come in at that time. But like you said, Alfredo, if we bring the conversations to them and make sure that we show up to have that conversation with them and hold them accountable. Then they'll know that our vote really counts because on election day, we'll see if they're sitting in that seat. If they're not, if the voters come out and do what they say, they're going to do and make them more accountable. For the process. 


Pepper: And on that note, all so last question to any of the speakers want to talk about what the impact of the city of Saint George will be to the housing availability access to housing dollars, especially public dollars. 


Alfredo: I'm not well informed about this, but I'll speculate that it's, it's going to take  tax revenue  that we're used to, including in our budget here in Baton Rouge, and so that depletion of resources is going to mean less. There's already a minute investment in housing. Let's just be clear. So there's already a very minimal investment of. In housing, affordable housing. So this is going to be even less than that. That's my speculation. How much? I don't know.  Clearly a lot of and I think that was a part of the fight, right? A lot of. Tax revenue is going to that other city now. And then similarly, the depletion of federal resources that get allocated to.  Because then that population is no longer boundaries population, and the calculus for those funds is always based on population and people living in parts. So it might be differential, or it might be an improvement.  But that's going to change. That's going to shift. 


Pepper: And final word from Jen, working exactly as it was planned. That feels very much a bad guy, right? So the villains but that said thank you all so much for being here. I genuinely thank you. Thank you for being here. I genuinely appreciate the time that you spend with me and for sharing all of your wisdom and and information. With that said, we've already had the announcement about what's going on up there. Thank you. Alfredo for dropping information in the chat. What's going on up in Dallas this weekend. Please let us know what's going on in Baton Rouge and we will get out and about. So what's good. What's going on this weekend, Reverend Anderson.  


Reverend Anderson: Good morning. I love my pepperisms. There's a bunch of stuff going on. Two things. One is that June is Torture Awareness Month. Which is an important recognition of the UN's Declaration about torture being an international violation of law. And the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition is gonna have an event  highlighting that we're actually gonna have several events, but one is gonna be on Tuesday, June 18th. At our in person meeting at the Eden Park library that will be at 6 PM and we are going to feature the documentary Torture in our name. That's a very good one. FOAM fathers on a mission is hosting their father's day Juneteenth event this weekend Family service of greater baton rouge has happened their open house at their facility on revere off of college from 10 a.m. To 2 p. m. There's a huge love heals. Health fair at Southern I think somebody correct me if I'm giving the wrong date or the wrong location, starts at I think  8 a. m. to 8 p. m. It's gonna be all day. But People are going to have to line up outside. So they may want to bring water, that kind of stuff. There's going to be like 400 gazillion events this weekend. 


Pepper: I love that number. Almost as much as 11 D one Morgan. 


Morgan Udoh: Hey y'all. So since there will be 400 gazillion. Events this weekend. And it is Father's Day weekend. We decided to push our finale Juneteenth activation to the 22nd and that is happening from 8:30 to 10:30. We are going to be doing color blocking and. Mural beautifications and a really cool sculptural installation at Scotlandville Plaza that morning ahead of the Levitt Amp Concert Series hosted by Scotland Saturdays. That's happening on the 22nd. Working backwards on the 19th. My lovely MyWe Junior Artists Guild members as well as community volunteers are going to be at the Banks Community Garden doing a mural there  from 8 30 to 10 30 as well. And then this Friday during Brec's Late Night Hike, we will be doing our first Juneteenth activation mural there from 7 to 10 p.m. With some of our corporate volunteers starting at 5. Fancy! And I dropped all that in the chat. Thank you! If you want to join us. 


Pepper: Dauda? Oh, there you go. 


Dauda Sesay: Good morning, everyone. Good morning, the One Rouge family. Yeah in as much as all the excitement happening this weekend, and I want people not to forget next weekend as well, the World Refugee and Immigrant Day. I know it's a celebration of diversity, inclusion, welcoming, dignity.  Everything in between that shows love and embrace humanity. That's what we're celebrating. In addition to that is we also going to be having display of resource table. So if you're a business owner, you're a service provider, please, we still have rooms for resource table. We want to have as much resource table we can have close to 75. So if you have that, so please, and I hear some exciting and about the housing situation, affordable housing, please register and sign up for a resource table. Bring that there educate the community about the services you provide so that people knows where to find you and how to get out there. And in the midst of you educating the family, yes, you're going to have the opportunity to listen to inspiring stories from refugees and asylum seekers. You will have that opportunity to listen to their story. You have that opportunity to taste the world. To have a taste of global dishes as well as snacks, so different, so ready to have your plates and then maybe you can put over a hundred dishes that you will taste. Last year we have over a hundred and fourteen and this year we are going to exceed that amount. And then finally dance and cultural performance.  This is something that people goes for and paid and take a vacation and go out of the country to just to go witness that. And this is coming to our city for free. All you have to do is to drive and go there. And also there is, I know there is parking issue and also you're gonna have a free parking at the public parking place. So know that as well. The parking also gonna be free, so we trying to make sure that you come in and have an event and enjoy and have fun. So thank you all Saturday, June 22nd and I'll put the link on the chat for the resource table. And then you can take advantage to register. Thank you. Thank you, Pepper and the rest of the team. 


Pepper: Thank you, Dauda. You know how much I enjoy hearing the things that are going on through Laurie. And all of this information will be in the notes that go out on the morrow. Thank y'all as always for spending part of your Friday with us. I appreciate how much I appreciate it. We will see y'all back here next Friday. Same bat time, same bat channel.


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