The Power of Community Land Trusts

A New York Times article explains and, potentially, introduces the community land trust concept, which has proven immensely capable of preventing displacement and foreclosures while advancing homeownership and racial equity.

April 16, 2021, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Michael Friedrich writes about community land trusts as a corrective for skyrocketing housing costs and the displacement of families of color. "By removing land from the speculative market, [community land trusts] keep housing affordable for first-time homeowners — especially low-income people of color," according to Friedrich.

Friedrich exemplifies the potential of land trusts as an avenue to homeownership by examining the Atlanta Land Trust, founded in 2009 during the development of Atlanta BeltLine. "The Atlanta Land Trust focuses on low-income buyers who make between 60 percent and 80 percent of the local median income and can readily support a traditional mortgage," according to Friedrich. "So far, the organization has sold 15 land trust homes; it aims to build 300 by 2025."

According to Friedrich, community land trusts are rooted in the cause of racial equity. "Unlike other types of land trusts, like those formed to conserve land by restricting development, they were devised specifically to prevent the displacement of communities of color," writes Friedrich. In addition to providing a tool for racial equity, community land trusts have been show to lower foreclosure rates and prevent displacement, according to research cited in the article.

The article also describes the scope of the community land trust movement, which can be found in gentrifying neighborhoods around the country in numerous other cities besides Atlanta. The Grounded Solutions Network, for instance, has created a three-city cohort comprising Atlanta, Houston and Portland, Ore. That "shares strategies for acquiring vacant and abandoned land in an effort to scale up the land trust model."

"Encouraged by research on the benefits of community land trusts, Grounded Solutions aims to support the creation of one million new units across the country over the next 10 years," reports Friedrich.

Thursday, April 15, 2021 in The New York Times

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