September 27, 2017

Commuity land trusts for fairer development

Nation - In the face of rampant financial deregulation, austerity-driven social disinvestment, and vast income inequality, working-class New York families are often priced out of both the rental and mortgage markets, while gentrification eclipses blighted blocks with empty luxury towers. But now housing-justice activists want to seed the city with a new kind of urban homesteading: Community Land Trusts—a model of collective ownership of housing on community-owned land.

Designed to encourage long-term social stability and foster political self-determination on the urban commons, CLTs develop property through a community-run organization, which is generally run by representatives from the community, sometimes along with the local government, and the private sector, independent of conventional government-based funding streams or commercial financing. The City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development recently launched a major new grant program, with over $1.6 million in seed funding for community-based organizations, to grow

Though CLTs have historically been associated with suburban regions, cities are beginning to adopt the concept as they strain against overcrowded and hyperinflated real-estate markets. By expanding place-based, community-directed development, a democratically governed CLT could pool public resources to enable residents to chart local development as owner-members.

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