Steps to build a BIPOC-serving intentional community
- Make sure your founders team has a member of the specific BIPOC group you intend to serve. This ensures that you have intimate and consistent understanding of challenges faced by BIPOC people.
- If you are inspired by the topic of equity for Black, indigenous, and people of color, you can indicate this interest in your profile responses. In the first profile category Community Type, select the item BIPOC culture-focused commune. Further, ICmatch has a Diversity and Inclusion page that covers some difficult topics about groups that have often been marginalized and tries to give you some language that can help you describe what you believe will work for your community.
- Make sure you are capable of staying in compliance with fair housing law in your jurisdiction. You may need to ensure that designating residences for BIPOC is not in violation. Typically, low-income housing is allowed, and if you are serving a specific neighborhood with high percentage of the ethnic group you seek to serve, they are likely to self-select. If your organization has non-profit status with a mission specifically including reparations, cultural affirmation, or language immersion, this may allow you to justify your exclusion of other ethnic groups.
- Plan whether you are going to provide additional services, in addition to housing, that may be needed by the population served.
- If you plan on additional services, you might add to your leadership team or advisory board someone who has worked in a related non-profit and is familiar with the challenges of those serving and served.
- Use ICmatch.org to build up your core leadership team and other values-aligned volunteers who might work on site in exchange for room and board.
- Create your business plan and grant proposals. To be eligible for more grants, you might team up with a non-profit or government office that works with the population you are committed to create culturally affirming housing for.
The following examples focus on student housing, because these are the most prevalent examples of housing focused on an ethnic or language group. The University of Alberta, University of Oregon, and University of Minnesota are examples of offering student housing that specifically serves indigenous students.
Cornell University’s Latino Living Center provides housing, culturally-relevant activities. Similarly Casa Latina at Knox College houses students committed to sharing their culture with others on campus. Considered a cultural center, it presumably offers a location to practice the Spanish language.
Technically, Western Washington University states their Black Affinity Housing “does not discriminate on the basis of race….no student is excluded from joining it. The community welcomes all residents who are interested in exploring and celebrating the diversity of Black and African American people and culture.” Their goal is “fostering a sense of belonging for all residents by creating a safe environment for open, honest, and sometimes challenging dialogue, to assist members of historically marginalized identities in supporting each other.”
Members Interested in BIPOC-serving Intentional Community
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Kheprw Integrated Fund: The Indianapolis Community Land Trust will work to equip Black, brown, and low-income residents to create permanently affordable housing. See also our page on service-based intentional communities.
The BIPOC Intentional Community Council is doing ground-breaking work. Other organizations also recognize that cohousing could potentially “further emphasize already existing American patterns of residential and social segregation” as noted in this article in a section titled “Cohousing in a multicultural U.S.A.”
Exploring the Resilience of Black Intentional Communities: From the Foundation of Intentional Communities, a panel discussion about Black intentional communities and challenges faced by Black founders
See our page on social justice work.