This Black and Latino Company Is Using Blockchain To House Homeless Families

EquityCoin team Housing BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of prnewswire.com.

Did you know that at least five million homes are needed in the United States to solve the housing problem?

It is no coincidence that you have seen more than one meme on social media about the impossibility of new generations to buy a home of their own. Anyone looking for a home today knows that the options are almost nonexistent.

According to a 2021 Realtor.com study, the supply of homes for sale in the United States is near an all-time low, and the gap between supply and demand is widening.

The U.S. is short 5.24 million homes, up 1.4 million from the 2019 gap of 3.84 million. The U.S. Census found that 12.3 million U.S. households were formed from January 2012 through June 2021, but only 7 million new single-family homes were built during that time.

Meanwhile, millions of people are homeless or at risk of homelessness across the country.

“On any given night in America, there are over 500,000 people sleeping on the streets even though studies show that increasing access to permanent housing has the potential to reduce homelessness by 50%,” said Vernon J., founder, and CEO of EquityCoin. “This is the crisis of our time, and we need more public and private programs that can directly address this basic necessity.”

Founded as a public benefit corporation, EquityCoin, Inc. created the first digital token on the blockchain-backed by affordable housing. The company provides apartments for those at risk of homelessness while helping community members build generational wealth through fractional real estate ownership.

Vernon, a commercial real estate professional and investor with more than 16 years of experience, and more than $150 million in transactions, launched EquityCoin in January 2021 after renting one of his units in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY, to a mother and son living in a shelter, he explained in a press release.

“I saw tears of joy in her eyes when I handed her the keys to her new unit. Never before that moment had I felt such fulfillment. From that point on, my purpose was clear – to help thousands of families in need of affordable housing,” says Vernon. “When landlords step up to provide housing to the underserved, everyone wins. The tenant receives essential permanent housing, the city keeps families off the streets, and property owners guarantee their cash flow through government rent vouchers.”

For Vernon and his team, the fact that real estate is the only type of investment that has created more wealth than any other asset class stands in stark contrast to the housing crisis experienced by minorities in the United States.

“By marrying blockchain technology and affordable housing, we will revitalize urban areas from coast to coast, building a more healthy, livable, and sustainable society. It’s not only important to do the work, but also to have the cultural empathy to provide a holistic approach to community-building,” states Beatriz Durant, EquityCoin, Inc.’s Director of Property Management.

“It was essential that we build a company with executives and board directors that actually represent the communities we serve,” Vernon declared. 

Other core members of the EquityCoin team include Akil Ash, a Venmo alumnus who has helped develop some of the world’s most popular apps; Beatriz Durant, an Energy and Environmental Design leader with 14 years as a property manager; Michael McConnell, a community developer with 15 years of experience building social networks; and finally, Jey Van Sharp, a corporate strategy veteran, via MyÜberLife Consulting, who has helped grow brands such as Diesel, Cartier, Pepsi, Neuehouse and UNIQLO.

“As an Afro-Nativo Venezuelan who grew up in Brooklyn, I understand the severe disenfranchisement of Black and brown people with regards to investing and homeownership. Ownership and freedom go hand in hand. More specifically, EquityCoin knows we will have no equality without equity. EquityCoin is excited to have an investment vehicle that provides a path for Black and brown people to own and have equity into the most fundamental asset in America: the home,” says board member Jey Van-Sharp.