Trump’s Opportunity Zones Offered Pathway for Late-Rapper to Rebuild His Neighborhood

ans wait for the funeral procession, following a memorial for rapper Nipsey Hussle, along Slauson Avenue in Los Angeles, California, April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Patrick T. Fallon/Reuters

The Opportunity Zone program championed by President Donald Trump helped the late rapper Nipsey Hussle in his efforts to rebuild the Los Angeles neighborhood he grew up in.

Hussle earned his fame in the music industry, but his Grammy-nominated music took a back seat to the importance of his work to rebuild the neighborhood of Hyde Park. After finding success rapping, Hussle turned around and worked to create opportunity in a neighborhood that the rest of America ignored.

He not only risked his own capital to open a clothing store in the neighborhood, but he knocked on every door looking to get others to do the same.

According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, Hussle had been in communication with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) to find out how to get more private investment into his neighborhood so his community could find better jobs and have greater access to the thriving U.S. economy.

Scott, along with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, worked with Trump to encourage private investment into low-income neighborhoods through a carve-out of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act called Opportunity Zones.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

As IJR previously reported, Opportunity Zones are regions designated by state governors where private investors can receive a capital gains tax credit for a long-term investment. As of April, $25 billion had already been invested by private companies into high-need areas, bringing with it jobs and retail opportunities.

Hussle was scheduled to meet with Scott on bolstering the Opportunity Zones in his own community, but the meeting never happened. Tragically, Hussle was murdered on March 31 outside his store in Hyde Park before he could see his efforts come to fruition.

The rapper believed Opportunity Zones were one of the ways to ensure that his neighborhood could experience economic success without losing its character and being gentrified by people who didn’t live in the area.

Hussle even included his plans in one of his songs, rapping:

“Gentrify your own ‘hood, before these people do it. Claim eminent domain and have your people movin’. That’s a small glimpse into what Nipsey was doing.”

Scott released a statement after Hussle’s death and hailed the rapper’s efforts as “amazing.”

“I was excited when I learned of his interest in Opportunity Zones,” Scott said. “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.”

Though Hyde Park will undoubtedly feel Hussle’s loss, his efforts to bring opportunity to the area will not go to waste. Hussle and his business partner, David Gross, planned to unveil their “Our Opportunity” fund later this month, their own investment that was set to develop a strip mall and new apartments for the neighborhood’s residents.

Gross, along with other investors, still plans to move forward with the project.

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