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The Community Land Trust Pilot Program Illustrates the Power of Community Ownership in the Fight Against Displacement

BusinessThe Community Land Trust Pilot Program Illustrates the Power of Community Ownership in the Fight Against Displacement

A recent study from the Los Angeles Community Land Trust Program — a $14 million pilot programme launched two years ago with the backing of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors — demonstrates the effectiveness of community ownership techniques. The unique cooperation investigates the Community Land Trust (CLT) model to solve long-term housing affordability issues and systematic racial inequalities for immigrant, working class, and communities of colour. It also seeks to reverse the trend of past relocation and disinvestment in these neighbourhoods, which has accelerated since the outbreak’s onset.

A Community Land Trust is a non-profit organisation that ensures land management by the community.

The independent report, commissioned by Liberty Hill Foundation with support from the California Endowment, examines the implementation of this acquisition and rehabilitation programme and argues that CLTs can be an important alternative to traditional affordable housing in addressing the housing and homelessness crisis.

“As the pandemic exposed more vulnerable Angelenos to relocation, a coalition of activists, governmental agencies, community-based groups, and community land trusts (CLTs) united in a manner never before seen,” stated Hilda L. Solis, First District Los Angeles County Supervisor. And we took use of this chance to create a new, forward-thinking model of affordable housing preservation in the area that may serve as a template for other towns.

Five established Community Land Trusts that make up the Los Angeles Community Land Trust Coalition were able to buy, restore, and maintain tax-defaulted properties for long-term affordable housing thanks to the pilot programme.

The original county investment helped protect eight multifamily buildings with a total of 43 residential units throughout all five supervisory districts, allowing 110 people to dwell in stable, affordable housing. The initiative was subsequently extended to obtain unsubsidized multifamily accommodation for tenants at danger of eviction and homelessness as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic repercussions. Currently, 95 percent of the apartments are inhabited by Black, Indigenous, and people of colour families.

Among the primary conclusions of the study is a proposal that the Community Land Trust model become a permanent programme across the City and County, with increased public and private financing to assist the purchase and restoration of additional small-scale, at-risk multifamily buildings. In addition, the report recommends a number of other supportive measures that can be taken to streamline the process and expand the pool of property acquisition opportunities, such as investing in additional legal, real estate, and technical expertise, increasing philanthropic and public investment in CLTs, and pursuing alternative approaches to decommodify housing.

“Measure ULA is a once-in-a-generation chance to support vital, innovative housing policy,” said Shane Murphy Goldsmith, president and chief executive officer of Liberty Hill Foundation. “This research highlights how crucial it is to adopt this bill so we can continue financing initiatives like the CLTs in this report that see housing as a human right rather than a market commodity and allow communities to organise and develop power around their own solutions.”

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