Baltimore’s Housing Problem: Are Community Land Trusts the Answer?

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There’s an interesting long read at The Nation about some Baltimore groups’ use of the community land trust to fight the city’s housing and homelessness problems, while guarding against gentrification.

In a CLT, “plots are collectively owned, developed and governed by community members; individual residents apply to build or lease on the land under the community’s oversight.” The non-profit model tends to keep housing affordable and, as The Nation puts it, “connect[s] the poorest residents directly with the land,” insofar as the everyone in the community has a say in how these properties are used.

The non-profit Charm City Land Trusts has been turning blighted plots into community gardens for years, and now the group is looking to facilitate residential housing development using that same model. Each home would be privately owned, while the land would be leased from the land trust, which would determine the “non-speculative rate” at which the homes would be bought and sold.

There are many hurdles to getting more of these trusts started, not the least of which is amasing the necessary start-up capital to acquire the land. But the Baltimore City Council is getting an earful from community groups that want to see the land trust model incorporated into the city’s affordable housing projects. And since there is some evidence that CLTs are more effective than other methods of increasing home ownership, so maybe we’ll see something happen with that.

Read the article at The Nation.


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