Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle
The Purpose Built Communities (PBC) Model was pioneered in the mid-1990s after the successful transformation of the East Lake neighborhood in Atlanta. At one point the East Lake neighborhood consisted of 100% extremely low-income residents, distressed public housing, high crime rates, and a under educated community. In order to address some of these problems community groups partnered with one another and other local government entities to focus on health and everything that affects health, giving birth to a new model for community building: Purpose Built Communities. Called as such because its goal is to create healthy and sustainable urban neighborhoods that allow the lowers income families to break the cycle of poverty.
The Purpose Built model is a deep dive into a clearly-defined, narrowly-tailored geographic area. Within that neighborhood, over a ten-year period, distressed low-income rental housing is replaced with high-quality mixed-income housing; a cradle-through-college education pipeline is created to serve the neighborhood; and wellness and health-related facilities and programs are implemented so that everyone in the neighborhood can be healthy, in the fullest sense of the term. These strategies are executed by many partners under the direction of a newly-created nonprofit organization – modeled on the East Lake Foundation – whose sole reason for existence is to make sure that the revitalization model is fully realized at very high standards. The new nonprofit, called a “lead organization” doesn’t necessarily deliver programs itself, but serves as the quarterback of the initiative.
Currently, Purpose Built Communities supports local leaders in eight cities who are already replicating this model, and is in discussions with leaders in 20 additional cities. Its criteria include several key elements to be successful: The opportunity to replace a failed low-income housing development with a large-scale, high quality mixed-income housing community; Federal or state funding for the affordable portion of the mixed-income project; The ability to create a neighborhood charter school (or a traditional public school with some form of local control); The ability to raise significant charitable funds; and the creation of a lead non-profit organization comprised of respected business and civic leaders that takes ownership of the project and manages it with a results orientation.
In addition, the model provides a mixed-income strategy that incorporates high standards for all residents, making sure that new housing is attractive to all income segments of the community, embracing residents of subsidized housing and market-rate renters alike. As a condition to receiving the housing subsidies, 18 to 55 year olds are required to work unless they are in school, in job training or are disabled. A PBC development offers high quality education from preschool through college, realizing that quality schools help break the cycle of poverty and energize the entire community. Finally, the PBC-inspired neighborhood provides excellent family support services such as academically enriching after-school programs, healthy recreation opportunities, and capacity-building adult programs.
Trust for America's Health | "Other Communities Replicating the East Lake Model to Address Health, Education and Violence"
Atlanta Business Chronicle | "Atlanta-born Purpose Built Communities Accelerates Work Revitalizing Neighborhoods"
Purpose Built Communities | History
What Works for America | "It Takes a Neighborhood: Purpose Built Communities and Neighborhood Transformation"