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In late 2017, a little-noticed provision made its way into the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, one that would give a tax break to wealthy investors who invest their money in economically distressed areas dubbed “Opportunity Zones,” or OZs. After 3+ years, investors have parked billions of dollars in OZ projects, but critics say the policy has failed to live up to its promise. A working paper by graduate students at UC Berkeley suggests that a lot of OZ investments are flowing to areas where gentrification is already well underway, and that the vast majority of the money is flowing to a tiny proportion of eligible zones.
Today on the show, we ask: who is the “Opportunity” in Opportunity Zones actually for? We talk with John Lettieri, CEO of the Economic Innovation Group (a think tank that championed the policy), who says it’s too soon to judge how well the program is doing and David Wessel, a journalist and Brookings Institution fellow who wrote a book about Opportunity Zones called “Only the Rich Can Play.”
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