So far, opportunity zones have mostly benefited neighborhoods already on the upswing and middle-class renters. The opportunity zone program has no job guarantees and no mechanism that requires projects to benefit the poor. Nationwide criticism of the program has focused on the tax credit funding luxury apartments, hotels and office towers. And a recent study suggests the zones have actually attracted slightly fewer new jobs than areas that were eligible for the zone program, but not selected for it.
Cleveland—which is home to roughly half of the publicly announced opportunity zone projects in Ohio, according to information from the Economic Innovation Group—is a good place to get past the hype and drill down on the limitations of the program. Interviews with the developers of the projects reveal that opportunity zone funding was not essential to making the projects happen. Some of the developers even say the program could use the