Izzy Jackson: Promoting Housing Equity in Philadelphia

Sekinah Brodie By Sekinah Brodie, 07/11/19


Episode #29 of Shades of Success features Izzy Jackson — the ambitious founder of Dwell City LLC. One of the highlights of the recent Philly Tech Week symposium was meeting Izzy Jackson. In our interview, I marveled at her passion for empowering landlords and engaging tenants to resolve the housing crisis in Philadelphia. We also talked about how community effort can create housing equity for everyone and why philanthrocapitalism should mold the businesses of tomorrow. 

 

Izzy Jackson

Izzy Jackson is a current MBA candidate at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. A structure centered on affordable housing through improved landlord-client relationships and technology integration. After graduating, she delved into risk management for six years. Being a landlord herself, she knows the struggles of low- to medium-income earners due to high housing costs in Philadelphia. So Izzy founded Dwell City LLC, an organization that provides both landlords and tenants with innovative solutions, disrupting the real estate industry. 

The wise words of Cornelius Moody, a social activist, “Gentrification is creating refugees out of US citizens,” still ring true today — especially in Philadelphia. Izzy believes that a business model centered on community development will have a long-term positive socio-economic impact. 

Dwell City Solutions is a social impact web-based platform that aims to combat gentrification and provide a safer and more comfortable living for everyone. The organization’s goal is to create 10,000 units of affordable housing by 2030 so every low- to medium-income Philadelphian earner can make the most out of city dwelling. 

Izzy’s zealous outlook on social entrepreneurship has earned Dwell City LLC a Grand Prize award during the Social Entrepreneurship Summit at Temple University. Competing against bright innovators all for addressing societal or economic issues, Dwell City LLC’s mission has proven to be a much-needed solution to a widespread problem. 

 

Dwell City LLC

Dwell City Solutions is modeled around a method called “Reverse Flipping.” By purchasing ready-to-use properties, furnishing community spaces, and offering affordable rental costs, low- to medium-income earners will only have to shell out around 30 percent of their monthly income for housing costs. 

Dwell City LLC not only offers affordable housing to marginalized Philadelphians, but the company also strives on these four goals for improved socioeconomic situations: 

  • Dwell City connects tenants to suitable careers to help them get back up on their feet and avoid getting evicted. Through machine learning and predictive analytics, tenants will get assistance even before hitting rock bottom. 
  • Dwell City improves the landlord-tenant relationship by sending regular surveys to tenants to know how they’re doing. They also send useful data to landlords so they can improve their service for longer tenant retention. 
  • Dwell City believes that a steadfast support system will help tenants bounce back during the most unfortunate time of their lives. So they help them with new skills to get more job opportunities. 
  • Dwell City also partners with non-profit organizations and the city of Philadelphia for paid projects that tenants can take on.

 

Interview Highlights:

00:04:37 What were some of your craziest experiences as a landlord. Like, is there anything you saw that was crazy with tenants or any experiences that were kind of dramatic?

Just dealing with different personalities. I’m a laid back person so I like to give people chances and be very accommodating. And I learned very quickly as a landlord that’s not the way to operate. So, I rolled with the punches and I think it was, for now, three years into living with her as my tenant that she decided that all these things were wrong with the property that she lived in for five years. And so she was going to take me to court and stop paying her rent. So, that was kind of a difficult situation.

00:11:09 How bad is the housing crisis in Philadelphia? So I know you say that you are looking to provide affordable housing solutions. What is the housing crisis like currently?

It’s pretty bad. If you think about the poorest people in the city, not to say, not like they’re an indication. This is an indication of how bad things are: 10-year waiting list for section eight housing. 10,000 people are not able to get section eight housing. Know what that means is, a lot of people think about that statistic.

00:13:51 Are the community leaders in the government doing anything about this? What are some ways that not only the Philadelphia government, but just members of the community
can get involved to help solve this crisis?

So I think one thing is that Mayor Kenny put out a program that is called The Affordable Housing Plan. It’s a comprehensive plan to address everything from homelessness to a 10-year plan to present more units of affordable housing to address the crisis that we’re seeing. And so there are committees that are being formed around this plan, there are going to be access points, there are grants that are going to be written. There are so many parts of this player that it’s amazing to see it in writing, but I think that it needs to be put into action.