Denver native fights gentrification with Buy Back the Block fundraiser

Posted at 12:49 PM, Oct 01, 2020

DENVER — Jazz music, soul food, and black entrepreneurship once flowed through the Five Points neighborhood as fluidly as the light rail now runs up and down Welton Street.

After years of gentrification, Denver native Akiala I said she’s working to restore the neighborhood’s culture by buying back the neighborhood, block by block.

“Buildings being demolished, the cultural history being changed and there aren’t as many community people involved,” said Akiala.

A few months ago, Akiala decided to launch a GoFundMe called Buy Back the Block.

“Buy Back the Block is essentially, trying to maintain the culture and historical significance of Welton Street and to stop gentrification from taking precedence over that,” said Akiala.

The fundraiser has raised more than $25,000 in three weeks.

That’s not quite enough money to buy the first building Akiala wants to take over, but enough to lease it.

“I would like to open a local goods emporium where local artists and makers can feature their products and sell their products,” said Akiala.

Akaila said Five Points was once the only part of town black Denverites could legally live in, but now it’s too expensive for many of those same residents to stay in their homes.

Akiala hopes her fundraiser starts a movement to help keep the neighborhood affordable by welcoming new business and homeowners without pushing longtime residents and culture out.