Ryann McMahon, MUD
Advised by Jonathan Klein

Above is an in depth and technical investigation of the Opportunity Zone legislative text and possible recommendations and alternatives. The complexity of this topic and the interdisciplinary nature of the implications necessitate a diverse collection of medias to cover the breadth of the subject.

The Opportunity Zone has been described as “a short, unassuming piece of bipartisan legislation that quietly flew under the radar” and as “an overlooked eight pages of sloppily-written text buried deep within the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” (TCJA). In essence, the Opportunity Zone is a tax incentive mechanism designed to spur capital investment in underinvested communities across the United States and its territories. There has been extensive discussion about the Opportunity Zone, its intention, applicability, implementation, and forecasted impact.

Tracking the history of exploitative urban policies, from the blatant racism of the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) redlining maps, to “good intentioned” urban renewal which set “the goal of a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family” through slum removal, to market undermined public housing systems, to the privatization of housing affordability through tax incentives and subsidies, the Opportunity Zone is the next step in a process which exploits the poor and working class while continuing to benefit the rich.

A deep analysis of the Opportunity Zone exposes invisible systems of oppression, not only through the policy itself, but to whom the policy is accessible and for whom it was written.

This map shows all of the census tracts in the United States (and it’s “possessions” (quoted from the legislation)) that are designated Opportunity Zones.

Explore to your home, or where you live now. What areas are OZs? Are those designations what you expected?

This map overlays a collection of complex urban policies which have impacted many cities in the United States. Looking at them all together at a city level, can be difficult, so you may toggle the layers on and off from the legend in the top left. Zooming into particular neighborhoods though, it is interesting to compare how these policies overlap and interact.

The following zines were created in an effort to begin thinking about how to communicate complicated ideas quickly, efficiently, and in a fun way. Many of the ideas communicated through these zines are intentionally complicated, to remove any possibility of interaction with those not highly educated in the relevant fields.