City of the Future: From Owning to Owning | Episode 16

Cities across the U.S. are suffering from dire housing crises. Housing supply is low, and prices are high — in some cities, sky high. And wages and income aren’t keeping up. Many struggle to make rent, let alone save for a home.

So it’s no wonder that affordable housing programs often focus on getting people into homes — people need help now. But we also need long-term solutions that could help renters generate wealth they could pass on to their families and children. In other words, as essential as affordable housing is, it isn’t enough on its own to close the wealth gap, which in the U.S. is particularly stark between Black and White Americans.

In the first episode of our new season of City of the Future, we talk to the founders of Esusu and Portland’s Community Investment Trust and explore new economic models that could help renters, particularly immigrants and new arrivals, become home or partial building owners — and have the opportunity to access multi-generational wealth as a result.

In this episode:
[00:00 – 04:24] Marc Norman, associate professor in affordable housing, talks about the racial wealth gap and new economic models that could help non-homeowners generate wealth to pass on their families and children.
[04:55 – 15:02] We speak with Abbey Wemimo and Samir Goel, the co-founders of Esusu, which helps renters achieve and improve credit scores by paying their rent on time.
[15:03 – 26:34] Vanessa flies to Portland, Oregon to meet John W. Haines, organizer of Plaza 122, the country’s first Community Investment Trust. We also meet with Yonas Kassie, Hawi Muleta, and Sonya Damtew of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Cultural and Resource Center.

To see images and videos of topics discussed in this episode, read the link-rich transcript on our Sidewalk Talk Medium page at

City of the Future is hosted by Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk, and produced by Guglielmo Mattioli. Story editing by Rough Cut Collective and Benjamin Walker. Mix is by Andrew Callaway. Art is by Tim Kau. Our music is composed by Adaam James Levin-Areddy of Lost Amsterdam. Special thanks to Marc Norman, Abbey Wemimo, Samir Goel, John W. Haines, Yonas Kassie, Hawi Muleta, Sonya Damtew, Annie Koo, Alison Novak, Jesse Shapins, and Chrystal Dean.


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