Right to the City Alliance Supports Growth of Community Land Trusts

Posted by Dana Hawkins-Simons on July 31, 2014

Prominent activist group the Right to the City (RTC), an urban justice movement, is broadening its agenda to call for greater funding for Community Land Trusts (CLT’s) and other permanently affordable housing arrangements.

“We were drawn to CLT’s not just as a technical model, but to provide the opportunity for residents—including renters—to actually have control over their homes and communities,” says Tony Romano, the RTC’s organizing director. The collaboration shows how well the activist group understands the social justice roots of CLT’s, and how their goals can align.

The RTC’s recent report: “Rise of the Renter Nation,” (published in partnership with the National Low Income Housing Coalition) includes CLT’s as part of the solution to what it calls the “housing affordability crisis.” The report calls for changing national, state, and local housing policy to “support, resource, and prioritize the development of CLT’s, limited-equity co-ops, and other cooperative land and housing arrangements.”

In order to learn more about the land trust model, the RTC is working one-on-one with several partners, in particular the National Community Land Trust Network, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI), and Burlington Associates. These groups have been instrumental in helping the alliance to train its membership through introductory webinars, says Romano, which will continue in the fall.

The collaboration is already bearing fruit. The Chinese Progressive Association in Boston, a member of the RTC, is working closely with DSNI to become a CLT. “We were interested in Dudley because of their success with low-income people living in the same area for decades, along with their very low foreclosure and displacement rates,” says Romano. “What they’re doing is effective, so we wanted to try and do the same thing.”

Romano says the relationship between the alliance and the CLT community is  mutually beneficial. “They’re helping train us in their model, and we know how to advocate for policies and fight for resources for them. It’s a two-way street. That’s what’s beautiful about it.”

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Dana Hawkins-Simons directs NHI's Opportunity Housing Initiative, a project that supports the expansion of long-term affordable housing programs and policies.

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