Connecting Community Land Trusts and Affordable Housing

A recent post on Rooflines, the blog for the journal of affordable housing and community building published by the National Housing Institute, described the role community land trusts can play in providing and maintaining affordable housing opportunities.

A housing justice alliance called Right to the City has recently begun to advocate for community land trusts as a strategy to create affordable housing, and to keep that housing affordable. Community Land Trusts, or CLTs, also allow residents (including renters) to be involved in making decisions regarding neighborhood development. For example, Dudley Neighborhoods, Inc, in Boston, which is part of the Right to the City alliance, became a corporation and was structured as a CLT in 1988. Becoming a CLT allowed them to combine vacant lots with city-owned plots of land, and to lease them to developers to build according to Dudley Neighborhoods’ wishes. They have used this strategy to revitalize their community, and provide affordable housing and homeownership opportunities for current and future residents. They have built 225 new homes, two community spaces, and have planned more houses, green space, and shopping areas.

Here in Baltimore, Baltimore Green Space manages the community land trusts for green space. However, what if housing could be part of the protected, community owned land? What if neighborhoods could take control of vacants and empty land parcels in order to make decisions that could revitalize their communities? CPHA has covered preserving community space in the past, as well as the capacity for neighborhoods to redevelop historic and deteriorating properties for the good of their community, both socially and economically. Perhaps Baltimore could use similar strategies to address affordable housing. Since 2010, Maryland non-profits and governmental agencies are able to maintain affordable housing prices for low- to moderate-income homebuyers, due to the passage of  Maryland’s Affordable Housing Land Trust Act. Communities throughout Baltimore are starting to consider land trusts as an option, like McElderry Park and Druid Heights.

The National Community Land Trust Network provides resources and support for member or ally organizations which “nurture and sustain healthy and economically diverse communities by providing permanently affordable access to land, homes, and community assets.” If your community association, non-profit, or business is interested in creating a community land trust, or simply learning more, check out their website to take advantage of their tools and resources. Would your community association take advantage of these resources? Would this make sense in Baltimore? Feel free to contact Steve Holt with questions or suggestions.

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Elise Bruner

Elise Bruner

This article was written by Elise Bruner and edited by Steve Holt. Click here to meet our writing team.
Elise Bruner

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