Meet Oscar Perry Abello, Building Capital Fellow

Oscar Perry Abello joined Open House New York as the Building Capital Fellow in February 2023. Oscar is a journalist covering alternative economic models and policies in cities across the country. He is currently senior economic justice correspondent for Next City, an independent, not-for-profit, online publication covering cities from the lens of social, racial and environmental justice. His writing has also appeared in Yes! Magazine, City & State New York, Impact Alpha, Shelterforce, and other outlets. 

Oscar is a child of immigrants descended from the former colonial subjects of the Spanish and U.S. imperial regimes in the Philippines. He was born in New York City, and raised in the inner-ring suburbs of Philadelphia. He has a bachelor’s degree from Villanova University, where he majored in economics and minored in peace and justice studies. He spent several years embedded in the international development industry before transitioning into journalism full-time in 2015. He currently lives in Washington Heights with his domestic partner and the two most photogenic kitties in the world.

What excites you about joining Open House New York as a Building Capital Fellow?

I’m excited to help elevate voices and perspectives that do not get the prominence they’re due when it comes to addressing or eliminating systemic injustices in finance and the economy.

What experiences do you bring to this work?

At the online publication Next City, I’ve been reporting on ideas and approaches for economic justice since 2015 — lifting up voices whom mainstream media typically marginalizes on critical topics such as access to capital and the racial wealth gap. Over the past eight years with Next City I’ve reported more than 500 stories, quoted nearly 1,500 sources, and interviewed thousands more. A majority of the people I’ve quoted are people of color, and a majority are women. Everything it takes to do this work I’ll be bringing to the Building Capital Fellowship — writing and communicating, interviewing, researching, and using my editorial judgement.

What do you hope to accomplish as a Fellow?

I want to document and connect dots that haven’t been connected before. For example it’s often taken for granted that bodegas, barbershops and nail salons or local grocery stores are cultural pillars in every New York neighborhood — but where do they access capital and to what extent do profits from lending to these businesses stay in their neighborhood (rather than line the pockets of shareholders from elsewhere)?

I’m an Open House New Yorker because…

I’m an Open House New Yorker because I believe that the city truly belongs to all of us who choose to live and work here. And that’s not just a fuzzy metaphor to me, because I’ve learned that names on deeds are largely a matter of political and financial expediency — a product of history and culture that persists despite the fact that property ownership is much more fluid than most of us care to recognize..