When neighborhoods rapidly gentrify and housing values soar, renters are left out of the financial windfall (and in the worst cases, are forced out of their apartments because they can no longer afford the area). A new startup called Nico—the name stands for “neighborhood investment company”—is designed to help many long-term residents earn a financial stake
for the first time.
The company is launching first in Los Angeles’s Echo Park neighborhood, where it now owns three rent-stabilized apartment buildings, one of which includes retail space for four local stores. By registering the properties as a financial trust, Nico can offer shares in the portfolio to people living nearby. This type of real estate investment trust, or REIT, is common, but the fact that it’s targeted at local residents rather than other investors is unique. Investments start at $100.